Sunday, January 15, 2006

pituitary removal

One theory of aging proposes that the pituitary gland, the main gland in the endocrine system, releases what are called "death hormones." The theory proposes that these hormones play a significant role in aging. To test the theory, scientists removed the pituitary glands of rats and gave them hormone supplements to keep them alive. If the pituitary gland is removed early in the life of the rat, the rat lives substantially longer. The treated rats show retarded aging of collagen (a main supportive protein in skin, tendon, bone, cartilage, and connective tissue) and better kidney and immune systems. However, many of the rat strains that were studied were atypical because they tend to develop pituitary tumors late in life. Also, the rats whose pituitary glands were removed weighed less than the untreated rats, which may explain their longevity. This has not been used in humans.
Kurz, M. A. "Theories of Aging and Popular Claims for Extending Life," in Aging, Goldstein, E. C., ed. Vol. 2, Art. 1. Boca Raton, Fl.: Social Issues Resource Series, Inc., 1981.


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