Scientists may have uncovered a way to reverse this trend, using experiments in mice to demonstrate how targeting inflammation in the belly could offer a way of not just restoring a balanced immune system, but addressing an age-related decline in physical fitness.
The research was carried out by an international team led by scientists at Switzerland's University of Bern, who began by investigating the function of specialized white blood cells called eosinophils, which curb infection and boost inflammation. These circulate through the bloodstream but can also be found in belly fat, where they work to maintain proper immune function in healthy humans.
As our age increases, however, the distribution and concentration of the eosinophil cells decrease. Meanwhile, the concentration of pro-inflammatory macrophages in the belly fat rises, creating in imbalance that increases with age and drives inflammation, which incidentally accelerates the aging process. The scientists observed this in both mice and humans, and wondered whether addressing this imbalance could offer a way to turn the whole thing around.