How is stress hormone related to chronic inflammation?

Scientists from the University of Saarland have discovered mechanisms in the immune system that contribute to the development of chronic inflammation. According to scientists, low levels of the hormone cortisol and protein, known as GILZ, can cause chronic inflammatory reactions in the body that are known to be unhealthy, reports Medical Express.

According to scientists, the inflammatory process itself is associated with an age-related decrease in cortisol production. Cortisol and its inactive form of cortisone, commonly called stress hormones, are secreted by the adrenal glands. Cortisol acts as a biochemical signaling molecule and is involved in numerous metabolic processes. As it turned out, cortisol deficiency leads to an inflammatory reaction.

Scientists have proven that the level of serum cortisol in the body is lower in the elderly. In addition, macrophages, an important type of immune cell, can convert inactive cortisone to active cortisol, but this ability weakens with age. Scientists dubbed this phenomenon macro-aging.

Macrophages play a very important role in the immune system: they use signaling molecules to control other immune cells and play a crucial role in determining the degree of inflammatory response in our body.

However, with aging, the function of macrophages is impaired, which can lead to an increase in the number of pro-inflammatory signaling molecules.

The GILZ protein is involved in turning off the inflammatory response of macrophages, and cortisol is partially involved in regulating its levels. Lower cortisol levels cause macrophages to produce less GILZ. This means that macrophages simply continue to secrete inflammatory signaling molecules.

A team of scientists found that GILZ levels are indeed lower in older people, and their levels of chronic inflammation are higher.