CNO Report 229
Release Date 10 MAY 2016
Draft Report Compiled by
In This Issue:
1. Why is visceral fat worse than subcutaneous fat?
2. Gut feeling: ONR research examines link between stomach bacteria, PTSD
3. Nutrient supplements can give antidepressants a boost
4. All hairstyles are not created equal
5. Rosemary aroma can help older adults to remember to do things
6. No time to get fit? Think again — just 1 minute of intense exercise produces health benefits
7. Black raspberry improves cardiovascular risk in metabolic syndrome
8. Gut bacteria may predict risk of life-threatening infections following chemotherapy
9. Peppermint tea can help improve your memory
10. A vitamin that stops the aging process of organs
11. Less body fat for toddlers taking vitamin D
12. Study suggests medical errors now third leading cause of death in the US
13. High-fructose diet during pregnancy may harm placenta, restrict fetal growth
14. Emerging research investigates mango’s health properties
15. High blood pressure lowers significantly after drinking tart Montmorency cherry juice
16. Analysis of more than 1.5 million people finds meat consumption raises mortality rates
17. Could a combined dietary supplement help ward off heart disease?
18. Probiotics protect mice from estrogen deficiency-related bone loss
Public Release: 25-Apr-2016
Why is visceral fat worse than subcutaneous fat?
Researchers have long-known that visceral fat – the kind that wraps around the internal organs – is more dangerous than subcutaneous fat that lies just under the skin around the belly, thighs and rear. But how visceral fat contributes to insulin resistance and inflammation has remained unknown.
A study led by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago points blame at a regulatory molecule in cells called TRIP-Br2 that is produced in response to overeating’s stress on the machinery cells use to produce proteins.
The findings are published in the journal Nature Communications.
All body fat is not created equal in terms of associated health risks. Visceral fat is strongly linked to metabolic disease and insulin resistance, and an increased risk of death, even for people who have a normal body mass index. Subcutaneous fat doesn’t carry the same risks — some subcutaneous fat may even be protective.
In previous studies, Chong Wee Liew, assistant professor of physiology and biophysics in the UIC College of Medicine, and his colleagues found that in obese humans TRIP-Br2 was turned-up in visceral fat but not in subcutaneous fat. When the researchers knocked out TRIP-Br2 in mice and fed them a high-calorie, high-fat diet that would make the average rodent pack on the grams, the knockout mice stayed relatively lean and free from insulin resistance and inflammation.
“TRIP-Br2 appears to block or prevent normal lipolysis,” Liew explained. Lipolysis is the breakdown of fat in fat cells, for use as fuel, and ongoing lipolysis can prevent the buildup of excess fat in those cells, Liew said.
“Without TRIP-Br2, lipolysis and oxidative metabolism take place at an increased rate, so fat is broken down and quickly used as energy and does not have a chance to build up in organs like the liver,” he said.
But Liew and his colleagues still didn’t know why TRIP-Br2 was found in higher amounts in visceral fat than in subcutaneous fat.
Their search for answers led them to a cellular structure called the endoplasmic reticulum, or ER, which is responsible for producing all the proteins in the cell. Nutrients from a meal enter the ER, but an excess due to overeating can significantly stress it. In obesity, a stressed ER in visceral fat cells leads to production of inflammatory molecules called cytokines — but exactly how was unclear.
Liew and coworkers found that in the absence of TRIP-Br2, ER stress could no longer trigger cytokine production and inflammation in obesity. They also found that the up-regulation of TRIP-Br2 in visceral fat depends on an intermediary factor called GATA 3 that turns on TRIP-Br2.
“Together, our findings indicate that these molecular regulators, TRIP-Br2 and GATA3, could be viable targets for small drug molecules that could serve as potential therapeutic agents against obesity,” Liew said.
Co-authors on the study are Guifen Qiang, Hyerim Whang Kong and Maximilian McCann of UIC; Difeng Fand and Jinfang Zhu of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease; Xiuying Yang and Guanhua Du of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College; and Matthias Bluher of the University of Leipzig.
This research was supported in part by the Research Open Access Publishing Fund of UIC; grants K99 DK090210 and R00 DK090210 from the National Institutes of Health; a Novo Nordisk Great Lakes Science Forum Award; a RayBiotech Innovative Research Grant Award; a Center for Society for Clinical and Translational Research Early Career Development Award; UIC startup funds; and grant SFB 1052, B01 from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.
Public Release: 25-Apr-2016
Gut feeling: ONR research examines link between stomach bacteria, PTSD
Office of Naval Research
ARLINGTON, Va.–Could bacteria in your gut be used to cure or prevent neurological conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety or even depression? Two researchers sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) think that’s a strong possibility.
Dr. John Bienenstock and Dr. Paul Forsythe–who work in The Brain-Body Institute at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada–are investigating intestinal bacteria and their effect on the human brain and mood.
“This is extremely important work for U.S. warfighters because it suggests that gut microbes play a strong role in the body’s response to stressful situations, as well as in who might be susceptible to conditions like PTSD,” said Dr. Linda Chrisey, a program officer in ONR’s Warfighter Performance Department, which sponsors the research.
The trillions of microbes in the intestinal tract, collectively known as the gut microbiome, profoundly impact human biology–digesting food, regulating the immune system and even transmitting signals to the brain that alter mood and behavior. ONR is supporting research that’s anticipated to increase warfighters’ mental and physical resilience in situations involving dietary changes, sleep loss or disrupted circadian rhythms from shifting time zones or living in submarines.
Through research on laboratory mice, Bienenstock and Forsythe have shown that gut bacteria seriously affect mood and demeanor. They also were able to control the moods of anxious mice by feeding them healthy microbes from fecal material collected from calm mice.
Bienenstock and Forsythe used a “social defeat” scenario in which smaller mice were exposed to larger, more aggressive ones for a couple of minutes daily for 10 consecutive days. The smaller mice showed signs of heightened anxiety and stress–nervous shaking, diminished appetite and less social interaction with other mice. The researchers then collected fecal samples from the stressed mice and compared them to those from calm mice.
“What we found was an imbalance in the gut microbiota of the stressed mice,” said Forsythe. “There was less diversity in the types of bacteria present. The gut and bowels are a very complex ecology. The less diversity, the greater disruption to the body.”
Bienenstock and Forsythe then fed the stressed mice the same probiotics (live bacteria) found in the calm mice and examined the new fecal samples. Through magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), a non-invasive analytical technique using powerful MRI technology, they also studied changes in brain chemistry.
“Not only did the behavior of the mice improve dramatically with the probiotic treatment,” said Bienenstock, “but it continued to get better for several weeks afterward. Also, the MRS technology enabled us to see certain chemical biomarkers in the brain when the mice were stressed and when they were taking the probiotics.”
Both researchers said stress biomarkers could potentially indicate if someone is suffering from PTSD or risks developing it, allowing for treatment or prevention with probiotics and antibiotics.
Later this year, Bienenstock and Forsythe will perform experiments involving fecal transplants from calm mice to stressed mice. They also hope to secure funding to conduct clinical trials to administer probiotics to human volunteers and use MRS to monitor brain reactions to different stress levels.
Gut microbiology is part of ONR’s program in warfighter performance. ONR also is looking at the use of synthetic biology to enhance the gut microbiome. Synthetic biology creates or re-engineers microbes or other organisms to perform specific tasks like improving health and physical performance. The field was identified as a top ONR priority because of its potential far-ranging impact on warfighter performance and fleet capabilities.
Public Release: 26-Apr-2016
Nutrient supplements can give antidepressants a boost
International evidence review gives thumbs up to omega-3s
University of Melbourne
An international evidence review has found that certain nutritional supplements can increase the effectiveness of antidepressants for people with clinical depression.
Omega 3 fish oils, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe)*, methylfolate (bioactive form of folate) and Vitamin D, were all found to boost the effects of medication.
University of Melbourne and Harvard researchers examined 40 clinical trials worldwide, alongside a systematic review of the evidence for using nutrient supplements (known as nutraceuticals) to treat clinical depression in tandem with antidepressants such as SSRIs**, SNRIs^ and tricyclics^^.
Head of the ARCADIA Mental Health Research Group at the University of Melbourne, Dr Jerome Sarris, led the meta-analysis, published today in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
“The strongest finding from our review was that Omega 3 fish oil – in combination with antidepressants – had a statistically significant effect over a placebo,” Dr Sarris said.
“Many studies have shown Omega 3s are very good for general brain health and improving mood, but this is the first analysis of studies that looks at using them in combination with antidepressant medication.
“The difference for patients taking both antidepressants and Omega 3, compared to a placebo, was highly significant. This is an exciting finding because here we have a safe, evidence-based approach that could be considered a mainstream treatment.”
The University of Melbourne research team also found good evidence for methylfolate, Vitamin D, and SAMe as a mood enhancing therapy when taken with antidepressants. They reported mixed results for zinc, vitamin C and tryptophan (an amino acid). Folic acid didn’t work particularly well, nor did inositol.
“A large proportion of people who have depression do not reach remission after one or two courses of antidepressant medication,” Dr Sarris said.
“Millions of people in Australia and hundreds of millions worldwide currently take antidepressants. There’s real potential here to improve the mental health of people who have an inadequate response to them.”
Dr Sarris said medical professionals may be hesitant to prescribe nutraceuticals alongside pharmaceuticals, simply because there has been a lack of scientific evidence around their efficacy.
“Medical practitioners are aware of the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids, but are probably unaware that one can combine them with antidepressant medication for a potentially better outcome,” he said.
The researchers found no major safety concerns in combining the two therapies, but stressed that people on antidepressants should always consult with their health professional before taking nutraceuticals and should be aware these supplements can differ in quality.
“We’re not telling people to rush out and buy buckets of supplements. Always speak to your medical professional before changing or initiating a treatment,” Dr Sarris said.
The researchers are currently conducting a National Health and Medical Research Council study using a combination of these nutraceuticals for depression.
Public Release: 27-Apr-2016
All hairstyles are not created equal
What dermatologists need to know about African-American hairstyling practices and the risk of traction alopecia
Johns Hopkins Medicine
In a review of 19 studies, researchers at Johns Hopkins say they can confirm a “strong association” between certain scalp-pulling hairstyles — many common among African-Americans — and the development of traction alopecia, gradual hair loss caused by damage to the hair follicle from prolonged or repeated tension on the hair root. An estimated one-third of African-American women suffer from traction alopecia, making it the most common form of hair loss among that group.
In a report on their analysis, published ahead of print in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, the investigators urge dermatologists to better educate themselves about the damaging hairstyles — which include tight ponytails, braids, knots and buns — and advise patients of risks and alternatives.
“Hair is a cornerstone of self-esteem and identity for many people,” says Crystal Aguh, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, “but ironically, some hairstyles meant to improve our self-confidence actually lead to hair and scalp damage.” Traction alopecia, she adds, is entirely preventable, and early intervention can stop or reverse it. “We have to do better as care providers to offer our patients proper guidance to keep them healthy from head to toe,” she says.
In their research review, Aguh and her colleagues categorize hair practices into low-, moderate- and high-risk styles based on the degree to which follicles are exposed to tension, weight, heat and hair-altering chemicals, such as straighteners.
Moderate-risk styles, the authors say, include some of the same styles noted to be high risk, but because they are performed on natural, unprocessed hair, they are less likely to result in hair loss. Low-risk styles generally included low-tension styles, such as loose buns, and loose-hanging styles, such as wearing the hair down, as well as practices that decrease the amount of friction on the hair and scalp and avoid chemical relaxers. Aguh and her colleagues say the highest-risk styles include braids, dreadlocks, weaves and extensions, especially when applied to chemically straightened hair. These styles are popular among African-Americans, she says, because they are low maintenance and chemical-free, but the constant pulling of the hair in one direction, the tight-locking patterns and added weight can result in significant breakage and eventually traction alopecia.
Damage can also be done if extensions are affixed with adhesive glue put directly on the scalp, especially when the glued-on hair is removed. Chemical straightening weakens the hair shaft, causing breakage.
In the more moderate risk category are thermal straightening, permanent waving and use of wigs. Temporary thermal or heat-related straightening of the hair, such as the use of flat irons and blow drying the hair — while not by itself significantly associated with traction alopecia — can weaken shafts, leading to “significant” hair loss when traction is applied, the researchers conclude. Permanent waves made with ammonium thioglycolate to create or alter curl pattern, together with added tension from chemical treatment, do the same. And wigs attached with clips and adhesives to keep them in place can cause significant breakage.
Aguh also noted that cotton and nylon wig caps that rub the hairline may also weaken hair shafts, while satin ones are less likely to do so. Observations among clinic patients reported in the reviewed studies, Aguh says, found that loose, low-hanging styles or even updos are low risk for traction alopecia. So are natural styles that avoid chemicals and the use of frequent moisturization with conditioning agents.
Untreated and unprocessed hair, she says, can withstand greater traction, pulling and brushing, and overall decreases the risk of traction alopecia, regardless of styling.
In their review, the investigators also offered guidelines for dermatologists and other care providers to prevent and manage hair loss from traction alopecia. The first line of therapy, they say, is to loosen braids and other high-tension styles, as well as weight on the follicle permanently or periodically. Braided hairstyles should be in place no longer than two to three months, they say, and weaves and extensions should also be removed for a period of time after six to eight weeks.
The investigators also recommend people alternate styles, mainly reducing or avoiding updos, to allow follicles to recover from stress.
“Dermatologists need to be conscious of the fact that many high- and moderate-risk hairstyles greatly improve hair manageability, and simply telling patients to abandon them won’t work for everyone,” says Aguh. “Instead, physicians can educate themselves to speak with patients about making the best hairstyling choices to minimize preventable hair loss.”
Public Release: 27-Apr-2016
Rosemary aroma can help older adults to remember to do things
British Psychological Society
The aroma of rosemary essential oil may improve ability of people over 65 to remember events and to remember to complete tasks at particular times in the future.
This is the finding of a study by post-graduate student Lauren Bussey, Lucy Moss and Dr Mark Moss of Northumbria University who will present their research today, Wednesday 27 April 2016, at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference in Nottingham.
Lauren Bussey said: “In this study we focused on prospective memory. This involves the ability to remember events that will occur in the future and to remember to complete tasks at particular times. It’s critical for everyday functioning. For example: when someone needs to remember to post a letter or to take medication at a particular time.”
Rosemary and lavender essential oil were diffused in a testing room by placing four drops on an aroma stream fan diffuser and switching this on five minutes before the participants entered the room. A total of 150 people aged over 65 took part in the study and were randomly allocated to either the rosemary/lavender-scented room or another room with no scent.
Once in the room they undertook tests designed to assess their prospective memory functions. These included remembering to pass on a message at a given time during the procedure, and switching tasks when a specific event occurred. These tasks represent the two components of prospective memory: time-based (remembering to do something at a specific time such as watch a TV show) and event-based (remembering to do something due to an environmental cue such as posting a letter after seeing a post box).
Participants also completed mood assessment before and after undertaking tests in the scented or non-scented rooms.
Analysis of the results showed that the rosemary aroma significantly enhanced prospective memory compared to the room with no aroma. In terms of mood, rosemary significantly increased alertness and lavender significantly increased calmness and contentedness compared to the no aroma control condition
Lauren Bussey said: “These findings support previous research indicating that the aroma of rosemary essential oil can enhance cognitive functioning in healthy adults. This is the first time that similar effects have been demonstrated in the healthy over 65’s. Further investigation is required to understand the potential beneifts of these aromas throughout the life span.”
Public Release: 27-Apr-2016
No time to get fit? Think again — just 1 minute of intense exercise produces health benefits
Researchers at McMaster University have found that a single minute of very intense exercise produces health benefits similar to longer, traditional endurance training.
The findings put to rest the common excuse for not getting in shape: there is not enough time.
“This is a very time-efficient workout strategy,” says Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster and lead author on the study. “Brief bursts of intense exercise are remarkably effective.”
Scientists set out to determine how sprint interval training (SIT) compared to moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT), as recommended in public health guidelines. They examined key health indicators including cardiorespiratory fitness and insulin sensitivity, a measure of how the body regulates blood sugar.
A total of 27 sedentary men were recruited and assigned to perform three weekly sessions of either intense or moderate training for 12 weeks, or to a control group that did not exercise).
The McMaster team has previously shown that the SIT protocol, which involved three 20-second ‘all-out’ cycle sprints, was effective for boosting fitness. The workout totaled just 10 minutes, including a 2-minute warm-up and 3-minute cool down, and two minutes of easy cycling for recovery between the hard sprints.
The new study compared the SIT protocol with a group who performed 45 minutes of continuous cycling at a moderate pace, plus the same warm-up and cool down. After 12 weeks of training, the results were remarkably similar, even though the MICT protocol involved five times as much exercise and a five-fold greater time commitment.
“Most people cite ‘lack of time’ as the main reason for not being active”, according to Gibala. “Our study shows that an interval-based approach can be more efficient — you can get health and fitness benefits comparable to the traditional approach, in less time.”
Gibala, who has studied has been studying interval training for more than a decade. O, was the first researcher to show that a few minutes per week of intense exercise produced benefits similar to longer, continouous workouts. Over time, his team has experimented with different protocols in an effort to identify the most time-efficient exercise strategies.
“The basic principles apply to many forms of exercise,” he says. “Climbing a few flights of stairs on your lunch hour can provide a quick and effective workout. The health benefits are significant.”
The findings are published online in the journal PLOS ONE.
Public Release: 28-Apr-2016
Black raspberry improves cardiovascular risk in metabolic syndrome
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News
New Rochelle, NY, April 28, 2016–A new study shows that black raspberry extract can significantly lower a key measure of arterial stiffness-an indicator of cardiovascular disease. Black raspberry intake was also associated with increased levels of circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), which help repair and regenerate damaged arteries, according to the study published in Journal of Medicinal Food, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Journal of Medicinal Food website until May 28, 2016.
Han Saem Jeong, Sohyeon Kim, and coauthors from Korea University Anam Hospital (Seoul) and Gochang Black Raspberry Research Institute (Korea), describe the results of a randomized controlled trial in which they compared two groups of patients with metabolic syndrome. One group received 750 mg/day of black raspberry extract, and the other received a placebo for 12 weeks.
In the article “Black Raspberry Extract Increased Circulating Endothelial Progenitor Cells and Improved Arterial Stiffness in Patients with Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” the researchers present the changes recorded in the radial augmentation index (a measure of arterial stiffness), blood pressure, circulating EPCs, and various markers of inflammation for the two groups of patients.
Public Release: 28-Apr-2016
Gut bacteria may predict risk of life-threatening infections following chemotherapy
Study could help physicians choose care path for some cancer patients
University of Minnesota
A new study led by researchers at the University of Minnesota and Nantes University Hospital in France shows that the bacteria in people’s gut may predict their risk of life-threatening blood infections following high-dose chemotherapy.
The study was published today in Genome Medicine, a peer-reviewed open access journal.
About 20,000 cancer patients receive high-dose chemotherapy each year in preparation for bone marrow or stem cell transplants. Typically about 20 to 40 percent develop blood infections following the chemotherapy. Sadly, about 15-30 percent of those patients die as a result of the infections.
Bacteria are thought to enter the bloodstream through intestinal lesions due to chemotherapy-induced inflammation of the membrane lining the digestive tract. Once the infection begins, patients’ own immune systems are depleted and are often unable to fight off the pathogens and antibiotics often don’t work.
There are currently no good ways to predict which patients will acquire a bloodstream infection. Antibiotic regimens vary widely between clinics. In some clinics, all patients are given preventative antibiotics throughout their chemotherapy. In other clinics, few patients are given preventative antibiotics because the antibiotics can lead to increased antibiotic resistance in the patients.
In this study, the researchers set out to understand how the starting configuration of the gut bacteria, before the patient begins treatment, relates to risk of bloodstream infection. They collected fecal samples from 28 patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma before the patients began chemotherapy. The researchers sequenced the bacterial DNA to measure the health of the bacterial ecosystem in each patient’s gut.
Eleven of the 28 subjects acquired a bloodstream infection following their chemotherapy, but interestingly the researchers found that those patients may have had more than bad luck going against them. They had significantly different mixtures of gut bacteria than the patients who did not get infections.
Using computational tools, the researchers then created an algorithm that can learn which bacteria are good and bad from studying one set of patients, and can then predict whether a new patient it has not seen before will get an infection, with around 85 percent accuracy.
“This method worked even better than we expected because we found a consistent difference between the gut bacteria in those who developed infections and those who did not,” said the study’s co-author Dan Knights, an assistant professor in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the Biotechnology Institute.
“This research is an early demonstration that we may be able to use the bugs in our gut to predict infections and possibly develop new prognostic models in other diseases,” Knights added.
While the predictive model used in this study was robust, the researchers caution that their findings are still based on a limited number of patients with a single type of chemotherapy at a single clinic. They say the next step is to validate their approach in a much larger cohort including patients with different cancer types, different treatment types, and from multiple treatment centers.
“We still need to determine if these bacteria are playing any kind of causal role in the infections, or if they are simply acting as biomarkers for some other predisposing condition in the patient,” said study co-author Emmanuel Montassier, a researcher at the Nantes University Hospital and former researcher at the University of Minnesota.
The study was supported by Nantes University Hospital Grant (BRD/10/04-Q and the Robert Tournut award of the French National Society of Gastroenterology.
To read the full research study entitled “Pretreatment gut microbiome predicts chemotherapy-related bloodstream infection,” visit the Genome Medicine website.
Public Release: 28-Apr-2016
Peppermint tea can help improve your memory
Peppermint tea can improve long-term and working memory and in healthy adults
British Psychological Society
Peppermint tea can improve long-term and working memory and in healthy adults.
This is the finding of a study by Dr Mark Moss, Robert Jones and Lucy Moss of Northumbria University who presented their research thist at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference in Nottingham.
A total of 180 participants were randomly allocated to receive a drink of peppermint tea, chamomile tea or hot water. Before they consumed their drink they completed questionnaires relating to their mood. After a twenty minute rest the participants completed tests that assessed their memory and a range of other cognitive functions. Following the tests participants completed another mood questionnaire.
Analysis of the results showed that peppermint tea significantly improved long term memory, working memory and alertness compared to both chamomile and hot water. Chamomile tea significantly slowed memory and attention speed compared to both peppermint and hot water.
Dr Mark Moss said: “It’s interesting to see the contrasting effects on mood and cognition of the two different herbal teas. The enhancing and arousing effects of peppermint and the calming/sedative effects of chamomile observed in this study are in keeping with the claimed properties of these herbs and suggest beneficial effects can be drawn from their use.”
Public Release: 28-Apr-2016
A vitamin that stops the aging process of organs
Nicotinamide riboside rejuvenates stem cells, allowing better regeneration processes in aged mice
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Nicotinamide riboside (NR) is pretty amazing. It has already been shown in several studies to be effective in boosting metabolism. And now a team of researchers at EPFL’s Laboratory of Integrated Systems Physiology (LISP), headed by Johan Auwerx, has unveiled even more of its secrets. An article written by Hongbo Zhang, a PhD student on the team, was published today in Science and describes the positive effects of NR on the functioning of stem cells. These effects can only be described as restorative.
As mice, like all mammals, age, the regenerative capacity of certain organs (such as the liver and kidneys) and muscles (including the heart) diminishes. Their ability to repair them following an injury is also affected. This leads to many of the disorders typical of aging.
Mitochondria: also useful in stem cells
Hongbo Zhang wanted to understand how the regeneration process deteriorated with age. To do so, he teamed up with colleagues from ETH Zurich, the University of Zurich and universities in Canada and Brazil. Through the use of several markers, he was able to identify the molecular chain that regulates how mitochondria – the “powerhouse” of the cell – function and how they change with age. The role that mitochondria play in metabolism has already been amply demonstrated, “but we were able to show for the first time that their ability to function properly was important for stem cells,” said Auwerx.
Under normal conditions, these stem cells, reacting to signals sent by the body, regenerate damaged organs by producing new specific cells. At least in young bodies. “We demonstrated that fatigue in stem cells was one of the main causes of poor regeneration or even degeneration in certain tissues or organs,” said Hongbo Zhang.
This is why the researchers wanted to “revitalize” stem cells in the muscles of elderly mice. And they did so by precisely targeting the molecules that help the mitochondria to function properly. “We gave nicotinamide riboside to 2-year-old mice, which is an advanced age for them,” said the researcher. “This substance, which is close to vitamin B3, is a precursor of NAD+, a molecule that plays a key role in mitochondrial activity. And our results are extremely promising: muscular regeneration is much better in mice that received NR, and they lived longer than the mice that didn’t get it.”
A breakthrough for regenerative medicine
Parallel studies have revealed a comparable effect on stem cells of the brain and skin. “This work could have very important implications in the field of regenerative medicine,” said Auwerx. “We are not talking about introducing foreign substances into the body but rather restoring the body’s ability to repair itself with a product that can be taken with food.” This work on the aging process also has potential for treating diseases that can affect – and be fatal – in young people, like muscular dystrophy (myopathy).
So far, no negative side effects have been observed following the use of NR, even at high doses. But caution remains the byword when it comes to this elixir of youth: it appears to boost the functioning of all cells, which could include pathological ones. Further in-depth studies are required.
This paper will be published online by the journal Science on Thursday, 28 April, 2016. It is titled: “NAD+ repletion improves mitochondrial and stem cell function and enhances lifespan in mice”
Public Release: 2-May-2016
Less body fat for toddlers taking vitamin D
Supplement given during first year of life critical for muscle-mass development
A healthy intake of vitamin D in the first year of life appears to set children up to have more muscle mass and less body fat as toddlers, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatric Obesity.
The findings emerged from research initially aimed at confirming the importance of vitamin D for bone density. The additional benefit in terms of body composition came as a surprise for the research team.
“We were very intrigued by the higher lean mass, the possibility that vitamin D can help infants to not only grow healthy skeletons but also healthy amounts of muscle and less fat,” said Hope Weiler, one of the study’s authors and Director of the Mary Emily Clinical Nutrition Research Unit at McGill University.
For the first time, a connection was made between the benefits of achieving healthy vitamin D status during a baby’s first 12 to 36 months and how muscle mass develops. The researchers achieved this by following up on a 2013 study in which 132 infants in Montréal, Québec, were given a vitamin D3 supplement at one of four different dosages between the ages of 1 month and 12 months.
The new study confirmed the importance for the development of strong bones of a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU/day during a baby’s first year. This amount is in line with current Canadian health guidelines. The researchers found that higher doses did not provide any additional benefit — at least not in terms of bone development.
But the body scans used to assess bone density also allowed the team to measure the children’s muscle and fat mass. While there were no significant differences in body composition across the different dosage groups, the researchers found children who had vitamin D stores above the threshold recommended by the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) averaged around 450 grams less body fat at 3 years of age.
Supplements important in long winters
Vitamin D supplementation is routinely recommended for babies until they can get an adequate amount through their diet. The skin synthesizes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, making supplementation all the more important where long winters reduce the opportunity for this to happen. In addition, Health Canada advises parents and caregivers to avoid direct sunlight and avoid use of sun block creams in young infants.
Physical activity also reduces body fat
Further analysis also indicated a correlation between lean muscle mass and the average level of vitamin D in the body over the first three years of a child’s life. The only other factor found to make a significant difference to the children’s amount of body fat was their level of physical activity.
“Vitamin D supplementation trial in infancy: body composition effects at 3years of age in a prospective follow-up study from Montréal”, by T. J. Hazell, S. Gallo, C. A. Vanstone, S. Agellon, C. Rodd, and H. A. Weiler, Pediatric Obesity doi:10.1111/ijpo.12105
Public Release: 3-May-2016
Study suggests medical errors now third leading cause of death in the US
Physicians advocate for changes in how deaths are reported to better reflect reality
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Analyzing medical death rate data over an eight-year period, Johns Hopkins patient safety experts have calculated that more than 250,000 deaths per year are due to medical error in the U.S. Their figure, published May 3 in the BMJ, surpasses the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) third leading cause of death — respiratory disease, which kills close to 150,000 people per year.
The Johns Hopkins team says the CDC’s way of collecting national health statistics fails to classify medical errors separately on the death certificate. The researchers are advocating for updated criteria for classifying deaths on death certificates.
“Incidence rates for deaths directly attributable to medical care gone awry haven’t been recognized in any standardized method for collecting national statistics,” says Martin Makary, M.D., M.P.H., professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and an authority on health reform. “The medical coding system was designed to maximize billing for physician services, not to collect national health statistics, as it is currently being used.”
In 1949, Makary says, the U.S. adopted an international form that used International Classification of Diseases (ICD) billing codes to tally causes of death.
“At that time, it was under-recognized that diagnostic errors, medical mistakes and the absence of safety nets could result in someone’s death, and because of that, medical errors were unintentionally excluded from national health statistics,” says Makary.
The researchers say that since that time, national mortality statistics have been tabulated using billing codes, which don’t have a built-in way to recognize incidence rates of mortality due to medical care gone wrong.
In their study, the researchers examined four separate studies that analyzed medical death rate data from 2000 to 2008, including one by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Then, using hospital admission rates from 2013, they extrapolated that based on a total of 35,416,020 hospitalizations, 251,454 deaths stemmed from a medical error, which the researchers say now translates to 9.5 percent of all deaths each year in the U.S.
According to the CDC, in 2013, 611,105 people died of heart disease, 584,881 died of cancer and 149,205 died of chronic respiratory disease — the top three causes of death in the U.S. The newly calculated figure for medical errors puts this cause of death behind cancer but ahead of respiratory disease.
“Top-ranked causes of death as reported by the CDC inform our country’s research funding and public health priorities,” says Makary. “Right now, cancer and heart disease get a ton of attention, but since medical errors don’t appear on the list, the problem doesn’t get the funding and attention it deserves.”
The researchers caution that most of medical errors aren’t due to inherently bad doctors, and that reporting these errors shouldn’t be addressed by punishment or legal action. Rather, they say, most errors represent systemic problems, including poorly coordinated care, fragmented insurance networks, the absence or underuse of safety nets, and other protocols, in addition to unwarranted variation in physician practice patterns that lack accountability.
“Unwarranted variation is endemic in health care. Developing consensus protocols that streamline the delivery of medicine and reduce variability can improve quality and lower costs in health care. More research on preventing medical errors from occurring is needed to address the problem,” says Makary.
Michael Daniel of Johns Hopkins is a co-author on the study.
Public Release: 4-May-2016
High-fructose diet during pregnancy may harm placenta, restrict fetal growth
Drug prescribed to treat gout, kidney stones may negate the sugar’s ill effects
Washington University in St. Louis
Consuming a high-fructose diet during pregnancy may cause defects in the placenta and restrict fetal growth, potentially increasing a baby’s risk for metabolic health problems later in life, according to research in mice and people by a team at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
However, giving the mice allopurinol, a generic drug frequently prescribed to treat gout and kidney stones, appears to mitigate the negative maternal and fetal effects. The findings suggest it may be possible to devise a prenatal screening test and treatment plan for pregnant women with high fructose levels.
The study is available online in Scientific Reports, a journal affiliated with Nature Publishing Group.
Fructose, a sugar occurring naturally in fruits and honey, has been popular for decades among food manufacturers who process it into high-fructose corn syrup used to sweeten food and beverages. In fact, researchers have reported that the refined sugar accounts for more than half of all sweeteners used in the U.S. food-supply chain. And in recent years, there’s growing concern that fructose in processed foods and sugary drinks may be linked to diabetes and obesity.
“Since the early 1970s, we’ve been eating more fructose than we should,” said Kelle H. Moley, MD, the School of Medicine’s James P. Crane Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the study’s senior author. “It is becoming increasingly critical to understand how fructose consumption is impacting human health. This study shows potentially negative effects of a high-fructose diet during pregnancy.”
Fructose is processed differently than other sugars such as glucose, which the body converts into energy. Instead, fructose is broken down by liver cells that turn the sugar into a form of fat known as triglycerides while also driving high levels of uric acid, a normal waste product found in urine and stool. Too much uric acid can create metabolic mayhem resulting in obesity, type 2 diabetes and other health conditions.
Studying mice, the researchers found elevated uric acid and triglycerides in otherwise healthy mice who were fed a high-fructose diet during pregnancy. Additionally, the mice developed smaller fetuses and larger placentas than those fed standard rodent chow.
Genetically, Moley said, a small fetus may become wired to grow more after birth than a normal-sized fetus. “The body tries to compensate for the small growth in utero,” Moley said. “These babies can become kids and then adults struggling with obesity and other health problems.”
Maternal health also may suffer. Metabolic problems caused by high levels of uric acid and fat increase a woman’s risk of developing pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia — a potentially serious condition in pregnancy often marked by high blood pressure, swelling and high protein levels in the urine — and gestational diabetes, Moley said.
To assess the relevance of the mouse data in pregnant women, the researchers examined the association between fructose and placental uric acid levels in a small controlled group of 18 women who underwent scheduled cesarean sections. The women had no disorders that would have caused elevated uric acid. “We found a correlation suggesting similar maternal and fetal effects occur in humans,” Moley said.
In the mouse model, researchers found that giving mice with high-fructose levels the common drug allopurinol – a prescription medication that reduces uric acid — reversed the refined sugar’s negative maternal and fetal effects by reducing the levels of uric acid in the placenta.
“The negative effect of excess fructose in humans is likely to lead to an exacerbation of the problems seen in the mice,” said Moley, who believes additional research may lead to a prenatal screening test for measuring fructose levels. This can be determined by simple blood work.
Besides advising pregnant women to limit fructose in their diets, treatment for those with high-fructose levels may include administering allopurinol, which crosses the placenta and generally is considered safe to take late in the second trimester or third trimester during pregnancy, Moley said.
“One of the best ways to ensure healthy maternal and fetal outcomes is by eating natural foods,” she said. Future studies will test the effectiveness of giving allopurinol to pregnant women when there is concern about fetal growth, Moley added.
Public Release: 5-May-2016
Emerging research investigates mango’s health properties
Studies explore this superfruit’s anti-obesity, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and intestinal health roles
ORLANDO, FL – May 5, 2016 – Four new studies surrounding the effects of mango consumption suggest this superfruit has the potential to help combat adverse effects associated with high fat diets and obesity (animal study), as well inhibit growth of fat cells (anti-lipogenic properties in an in-vivo study), slow advancement of breast cancer tumors (animal study), as well as improve regularity and decrease inflammation associated with constipation (human subject study). The research was presented at the 2016 Experimental Biology conference in San Diego.
“While more research is needed, especially in humans, there is a growing body of studies that suggest mango consumption may contribute to some protective effects in relation to obesity, certain cancers, gut health, and inflammation,” said Leonardo Ortega, Director of Research at the National Mango Board.
* Nutrition science researcher, Babajide Ojo at Oklahoma State University, was selected by the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) as one of five finalists to present his research at the 2016 ASN Young Minority Investigator Oral Competition. Ojo’s study investigated the effects of supplementing mangos (in the form of freeze-dried mango pulp) in mice fed a high fat diet on body composition, glucose homeostasis and gut inflammatory markers.
* Ojo, B., et. al., Mango Supplementation Prevents Gut Microbial Dysbiosis and Modulates Short Chain Fatty Acid Production Independent of Body Weight Reduction in C57BL/6 Mice Fed a High Fat Diet. The FASEB Journal, April 2016, vol. 30 no. 1 Supplement 1166.6 http://tinyurl.com/zyz6dpc
* Chuo Fang, PhD, of the department of Nutrition and Food Science at Texas A&M University investigated the potential role of mango and its microbial metabolites in regulating lipid metabolism and adipogenesis via the activation of AMPK in differentiated 3T3-L1 adipocytes.
* Fang, C., et. al, Mango polyphenols (Mangifera Indica L.) and their microbial metabolites suppress adipogenesis and fat accumulation by mediating AMPK signaling pathways in 3T3L-1 adipocytes. The FASEB Journal vol. 30 no. 1 Supplement 691.10 http://tinyurl.com/zwe78kq
* Researcher Matt Nemec, of the Interdisciplinary Program of Toxicology at Texas A&M University, studied the anti-proliferative activities of pyrogallol, an intestinal microbial metabolite of gallotannin, a mango polyphenol, on mice with ductal carcinoma in situ breast cancer (DCIS).
* Nemec, M., et. al., Pyrogallol, a microbial metabolites from mango tannins (Mangifera Indica L.) suppresses breast cancer ductal carcinoma in situ proliferation in both in vitro and in vivo. The FASEB Journal, April 2016, vol. 30 no. 1 Supplement 688.7 http://tinyurl.com/ze3y5kx
* Vinicius Paula Venancio, of the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at Texas A&M University, studied the consumption of 300 grams of mango compared to an equivalent amount of fiber (1 teaspoon of a fiber supplement) and its effect on abdominal distention and constipation in otherwise healthy human volunteers.
* Venancio, V.P., et. al., Mango (Mangifera Indica L.) in the promotion of intestinal regularity and decreases inflammation in human subjects with constipation. The FASEB Journal, April 2016, vol. 30 no. 1 Supplement 420.7 http://tinyurl.com/h6pvwnn
Public Release: 5-May-2016
High blood pressure lowers significantly after drinking tart Montmorency cherry juice
Drinking tart Montmorency cherry juice significantly reduces high blood pressure at a level comparable to that achieved by medication, according to new research from Northumbria University, Newcastle.
The findings, which are published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition today (Wednesday 4 May), found that men with early signs of hypertension – more commonly known as high blood pressure – saw a 7% reduction in blood pressure after drinking Montmorency cherry concentrate when compared to drinking a fruit-flavoured cordial.
This reduction is comparable to the level achieved by anti-hypertensive medication.
High blood pressure affects over five million people in England and, if left untreated, increases risk of heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, stroke or dementia. Normal blood pressure is around 120/80 mmHg.
Researchers from Northumbria University’s Department of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation worked with fifteen participants who were displaying early hypertension with blood pressure readings of at least 130/90 mmHg, meaning they were at higher risk of experiencing cardiovascular related problems.
They were told that the study was to investigate the effect of a fruit juice on vascular function and were given either 60ml of a Montmorency cherry concentrate or the same amount of a commercially available fruit-flavoured cordial.
Blood pressure and blood samples were taken before the cherry concentrate was consumed and blood pressure was measured on an hourly basis thereafter. Blood samples and a series of other cardiovascular screening tests were taken again on a regular basis over the following eight hours.
The researchers found that the participants who were given the cherry concentrate saw a peak reduction in their blood pressure of 7 mmHg in the three hours after consuming the drink.
Past studies have shown that a reduction of between 5-6 mmHg over a sustained period has been associated with a 38% reduced risk of stroke and 23% reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
Interestingly, those participants with blood pressure levels at the higher end of the scale saw the most benefit.
The greatest improvement in systolic blood pressure occurred when the phenolic acids, protocatechuic and vanillic, within the cherry concentrate reached their peak levels in the plasma. The researchers believe that these particular compounds are, at least in part, responsible for the reduction.
Lead author and Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Nutrition, Karen Keane, explained: “The majority of cardiovascular disease is caused by risk factors that can be controlled, treated or modified, such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, tobacco use, lack of physical activity and diabetes. Raised blood pressure is the leading cause of deaths from cardiovascular disease, yet relatively small reductions in blood pressure can have a large impact on mortality rates.
“The magnitude of the blood pressure lowering effects we observed was comparable to those achieved by a single anti-hypertensive drug and highlights the potential importance that Montmorency cherries could have in the effective management of high blood pressure.”
Prof. Glyn Howatson, research leader and Professor in Human and Applied Physiology, added: “This is the first study to investigate the acute effects of Montmorency tart cherry consumption on blood pressure, arterial stiffness and microvascular vasodilation in males with early hypertension. This exciting set of data complements a growing body of research to show that eating the right sorts of foods can provide potential health benefits.
“We believe these benefits might be linked to the combined actions of some of the plant compounds within the Montmorency concentrate and the positive impact they exert on vascular function.”
In recent years Northumbria University has undertaken a number of studies into the health benefits of tart Montmorency cherry concentrate. Northumbria researchers have found that drinking the concentrate improves the quality and quantity of sleep. It also significantly reduces the symptoms associated with the painful condition of gout and enhances the recovery of muscle function after intense exercise, probably thanks to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties.
Northumbria University had the biggest increase in research power of any university in the UK, according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, with research judged to be ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in all areas submitted.
ublic Release: 5-May-2016
Analysis of more than 1.5 million people finds meat consumption raises mortality rates
Death rates higher when red and processed meats are eaten daily, according to Mayo Clinic reviewers
American Osteopathic Association
A review of large-scale studies involving more than 1.5 million people found all-cause mortality is higher for those who eat meat, particularly red or processed meat, on a daily basis. Conducted by physicians from Mayo Clinic in Arizona, “Is Meat Killing Us?” was published today in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.
The authors analyzed six studies that evaluated the effects of meat and vegetarian diets on mortality with a goal of giving primary care physicians evidence-based guidance about whether they should discourage patients from eating meat. Their recommendation: physicians should advise patients to limit animal products when possible and consume more plants than meat.
“This data reinforces what we have known for so long – your diet has great potential to harm or heal,” said Brookshield Laurent, DO, assistant professor of family medicine and clinical sciences at New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine. “This clinical-based evidence can assist physicians in counseling patients about the important role diet plays, leading to improved preventive care, a key consideration in the osteopathic philosophy of medicine.”
While findings for U.S. and European populations differed somewhat, the data found the steepest rise in mortality at the smallest increases of intake of total red meat. That 2014 study followed more than one million people over 5.5 to 28 years and considered the association of processed meat (such as bacon, sausage, salami, hot dogs and ham), as well as unprocessed red meat (including uncured, unsalted beef, pork, lamb or game).
A 2014 meta-analysis examined associations with mortality from cardiovascular disease and ischemic heart disease. In that study of more than 1.5 million people, researchers found only processed meat significantly increase the risk for all-cause mortality.
Combined, the findings of these studies are statistically significant in their similarity, the reviewers noted. Further, a 2003 review of more than 500,000 participants found a decreased risk of 25 percent to nearly 50 percent of all-cause mortality for very low meat intake compared with higher meat intake.
They also found a 3.6-year increase in life expectancy for those on a vegetarian diet for more than 17 years, as compared to short-term vegetarians.
Public Release: 25-Apr-2016
Could a combined dietary supplement help ward off heart disease?
Combining marine fish oil, cocoa extract and phytosterols into a dietary supplement could offer new hope in the fight against heart disease, a new study suggests.
A collaborative study between Cardiff University scientists and South Wales-based nutritional supplement manufacturer, Cultech Ltd, examined the potential of combining the three ingredients as a means of preventing atherosclerosis or ‘furring’ of the arteries.
Using a series of cell-based experimental models, the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, found combining the three ingredients helped inhibit key processes associated with the progression of atherosclerosis.
Dr Dipak Ramji from Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences who co-authored the study said: “A variety of active food ingredients have been shown to impart beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease although little is known regarding their actions when taken in combination.
“Therefore we set out to examine what happens when you combine omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in marine fish oil), flavanols (found in cocoa) and phytosterols.
“The study found, in cell-based models, that combining the three ingredients could, potentially, help halt the progression of atherosclerosis. The challenge now is to take our findings and examine whether they translate into humans.
“Ultimately, our common goal is to help prevent people from developing atherosclerosis, and this collaborative work opens up new avenues for further research on the use of nutritional products in the prevention and treatment of the condition.”
Atherosclerosis is the major cause of heart disease, killing approximately one individual every 34 seconds and responsible for around a third of all deaths worldwide.
Current therapies against atherosclerosis are not fully effective and there have been numerous recent disappointments on promising agents that have been identified through various drug discovery programs.
Dr Daryn Michael, Senior Research Scientist at Cultech Limited, added: “Dr Ramji and his team have been instrumental in facilitating innovative research in this field and we are hopeful that continued collaboration will give rise to further successful projects in the future.”
Public Release: 25-Apr-2016
Probiotics protect mice from estrogen deficiency-related bone loss
Journal of Clinical Investigation
After menopause, a decline in estrogen levels is linked to increases in inflammation that can cause osteoporosis. Intestinal bacteria have been shown to influence inflammation by modulating immune responses, and a new study suggests that differences in gut microbial populations may determine the extent of post-menopausal bone loss. In this month’s issue of the JCI, a research team led by Roberto Pacifici at Emory University demonstrates a link between gut bacteria and the bone loss induced by estrogen deficiency. Mice lacking gut bacteria were protected against the estrogen deficiency-induced inflammation, gut permeability, and bone loss that occurred in mice with normal gut bacteria. Further, treatment of normal mice with probiotics attenuated inflammation and bone loss induced by estrogen deficiency. Treatment with non-probiotic strains of bacteria did not prevent estrogen deficiency-induced bone loss. These results indicate that gut bacteria drive responses to inflammation and point to therapeutic potential for probiotics in osteoporosis.