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Clinical Trials & Research

Research Spotlight

Montefiore is the University Hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine. This unique partnership brings together expertise across disciplines and yields an extensive portfolio of biomedical research, with an emphasis on translating basic science in the lab to pioneering treatments and therapies. Montefiore physicians are discovering novel solutions that advance the future of healthcare and treatments:

Low Growth Hormone Levels May be Responsible for Exceptional Longevity

When it comes to human growth hormone (hGH), the old adage, “less is more” may apply for many older adults.  Indeed, a study conducted by Montefiore endocrinologists Nir Barzilai, MD, Sofiya Milman, MD and other colleagues reveal that lower levels of hGH  predicts enhanced longevity for  older adults.

Beginning in middle age, the pituitary gland slows down production of a naturally occurring growth hormone called IGF-1. It’s hGH that prompts the liver and other organs to make IGF-1, which affects tissues and organs throughout the body.  

The study—conducted at Einstein and published in the official journal of the Anatomical Society Aging Cellshow for the first time that low levels of IGF-1 may be linked to exceptional longevity in women, particularly those with a history of cancer.
The Montefiore-Einstein researchers tested whether IGF-1 levels in men and women between the ages of 90-99 years old could predict how much longer each had to live. Women with IGF-1 levels below the median survived significantly longer than women with levels above the median. In addition, in both men and women with a history of cancer, lower IGF-1 levels predicted longer survival.

A similar paperpublished in the March 2014 issue of the journal Cellalsoproposed a benefit to lower IGF-1 levels before age 65. However, our researchers reveal that this benefit extends well into old age.Our results suggest that growth hormone for healthy aging might not be a good idea,” Dr. Barzilai, says. “The same hormones may have a different effect across the life span and the outcome may be different.”

Dr. Barzilai is Attending Physician, Medicine; Professor, Medicine (Endocrinology); Director, Institute for Aging Research; Director, Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging; and the Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Chair of Aging Research, Einstein.

Dr. Milman is Attending Physician, Medicine; and Assistant Professor, Medicine (Endocrinology and Geriatrics), Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Exploring the Link Between Chronic Kidney Disease and Muscle Wasting

Kidney dialysis eliminates waste and unwanted water from the blood, but it may also promote inflammation and induce muscle breakdown; increased inflammation after dialysis initiation may promote muscle wasting and decline.
Muscle wasting, a condition often associated with chronic kidney disease, drastically reduces patients’ quality of life and increases their mortality risk.  Complicating matters for many of those who come to us for care is that there is no known treatment for this loss of lean body mass.  But answers may not be too far off.
Montefiore Einstein researcher, Matthew K. Abramowitz, MD, is currently investigating how inflammation affects changes in patients’ skeletal muscle structure and function as they begin kidney dialysis.
Dr. Abramowitz’s study of 100 patients over a five-year period—one of the first research studies to follow patients as they transition into dialysis—will:

  • Examine muscle wasting at biochemical, physiologic, and clinical levels;
  • Define how inflammation relates to changes in skeletal muscle physiology, lean body mass, and physical function in patients who have not yet begun dialysis; and
  • Determine how transitioning to dialysis affects these parameters.

Dr. Abramowitz notes that it is often difficult to predict whether starting dialysis will improve muscle wasting and functional impairment in a particular patient, especially those who are older. However, by focusing on the role of inflammation in this process, his research hopes to identify parameters that will help develop better prognostic tools and, ultimately, new treatment options for geriatric patients.