The Impact of Inflammation on Cellular Aging

March 22, 2018

Research Background

Our laboratory aims to investigate the intersection of psychological stress, nutrition, and physical activity to understand how stress gets “under your skin” and contributes to disease, including cardiovascular disease and various types of cancer. To address these questions, we are conducting a number of research projects focused on telomere length, which are a biological marker of cellular age. Specifically, telomeres are located at the ends of your cell’s chromosomes, protecting them against damage. While telomeres shorten naturally across the lifespan, various factors, including high levels of psychological stress, can accelerate this shortening process. Consequently, once telomeres shorten to a critical length, the basic function of immune cells become impaired and their ability to prevent disease is compromised. Physical activity prevents the premature shortening of telomere lengths that occurs with chronic levels of psychological stress. Therefore, by investigating the cellular components attributed to the preservation of telomere length, our laboratory has approached the next frontier of physical activity research that will help to prevent life altering diseases.