251 CNO Report 26 DEC 2017

251CNO14DEC2017

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CNO Report # 251

Release Date:  26 DEC 2017

Draft Report Compiled by

Ralph Turchiano

http://www.clinicalnews.org

 

 

 

 

In this issue:

1.       Fish oil component preconditions vision cells to survive future injury or disease

2.       Nutrition may play a key role in early psychosis treatment: New research

3.       UTHealth scientists help explain how dietary fat affects stem cell differentiation

4.       Temple research: Canola oil linked to worsened memory & learning ability in Alzheimer’s

5.       Can diet help reduce disability, symptoms of MS?

6.       Your mood depends on the food you eat, and what you should eat changes as you get older

7.       Soy, cruciferous vegetables associated with fewer common breast cancer treatment side effects

8.       Taurine lends hand to repair cells damaged in multiple sclerosis

9.       Lactic acid bacteria can protect against Influenza A virus, study finds

10.   Drinking hot tea every day linked to lower glaucoma risk

11.   Blueberry vinegar improves memory in mice with amnesia

12.   Diet rich in apples and tomatoes may help repair lungs of ex-smokers, study suggests

 

Public Release: 30-Nov-2017

Fish oil component preconditions vision cells to survive future injury or disease

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

New Orleans, LA – A team of LSU Health New Orleans scientists discovered that a component of fish oil not only protects cells critical to vision from potentially lethal initial insults, but also from those that occur in the future. The study showed that the omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, and its derivatives “precondition” photoreceptor and retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells to survive. The results are published in the November 2017 online issue of the journal Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology.

“Our findings support the proposed concept that DHA and docosanoids (molecules made in the brain at the onset of injury or disease) are responsible for activating sustained cellular mechanisms that elicit long-term preconditioning protection,” says Nicolas Bazan, MD, PhD, Boyd Professor and Director of LSU Health New Orleans Neuroscience Center of Excellence.

According to the authors, a preconditioning (PC) stimulus is a sub-lethal or pharmacologic stressor that activates a counter-regulatory protective response to a future lethal stimulus. Preconditioning takes place when, for example, the blood supply to an organ is interrupted for a short time and then reestablished. The protective response from that first injury would carry over to a subsequent blood supply shortage, much like the immunity a vaccine confers against future exposures to disease.

“This happens in the heart, brain and retina, as well as other organs,” Dr. Bazan says. “To harness the therapeutic potential of preconditioning, it is very important to identify the molecules directly involved.”

Fish oil contains two types of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) — omega-3 (docosahexaenoic acid or DHA) and omega-6 (arachidonic acid or AA). They have distinctly different actions. Omega-3 PUFAs and their enzymatic metabolic derivatives, docosanoids, display potent anti-inflammatory and pro-resolving properties in contrast to the pro-inflammatory actions of omega-6 PUFA derivatives. The researchers found that although they are released concomitantly, DHA can alter the action of AA. When they supplemented DHA prior to the oxidative stress insult, the synthesis of protective DHA derivatives increased while AA synthesis decreased over time.

“Our findings demonstrate that DHA and the induction of docosanoid synthesis is necessary for preconditioning protection, and thus daily survival, of photoreceptor and RPE cells,” adds Bazan. “Since omega-3 impairments are associated with neuroinflammation, which contributes to photoreceptor cell dysfunction and death, enhancing the synthesis of docosanoids may provide an opportunity for halting or ameliorating debilitating retinal degenerative diseases, such as the dry form of age-related macular degeneration,” concludes Bazan.

Public Release: 30-Nov-2017

Nutrition may play a key role in early psychosis treatment: New research

NICM, Western Sydney University

Early psychosis is associated with nutritional deficiencies, new research from Australia has found, potentially presenting new avenues for improving health among the millions of people affected worldwide.

International research led by NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University systematically reviewed evidence examining nutritional deficiencies in people being treated for psychotic disorders for the first time.

Early detection and treatment of psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, is thought to be critical for maximising recovery.

Schizophrenia affects more than 21 million people worldwide and people with the disorder die 15 – 20 years earlier than the general population.1

Previous research has shown a strong correlation between long-term schizophrenia and various nutritional deficiencies including vitamins B, C, D, and E. However, until now, no one has assessed the full range of nutritional deficiencies which may be present during the first episode of psychosis.

The researchers assessed 28 studies examining blood levels of six vitamins and 10 minerals across 2612 individuals.

All participants were assessed either immediately after presenting with psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia) for the first time, prior to antipsychotic treatment, or within the early stages of treatment.

The research, published in the world’s leading schizophrenia research journal, Schizophrenia Bulletin, found that early psychosis is associated with large deficits in blood levels of critical nutrients, with particularly low levels of vitamin B9 (folate) and vitamin D.

Furthermore, these nutritional deficiencies were found to be associated with worse mental health in young people with early psychosis.

Although the review found no significant differences for other vitamins and minerals, the researchers said that due to a small number of studies that examined these nutrients, they could not be ruled out and further study was needed to determine their importance.

Lead author, NICM postdoctoral research fellow Joseph Firth said these findings could ultimately contribute to nutritional interventions being added into standard treatment of early psychosis.

“Although just one of many factors, it is important to recognise that nutritional deficiencies could certainly be contributing to the poor physical and mental health outcomes often observed in young people with psychosis,” Firth said.

“Our research has found vitamin D and folate deficiencies, previously observed in long-term schizophrenia, exist right from illness onset, and are associated with worse symptoms among young people with psychosis.

“Since both of these nutrients are vital for physical and psychological wellbeing, this finding emphasises the importance of promoting a healthy diet for young people with psychosis, and potentially suggests adding targeted nutritional supplementation to standard treatment could improve recovery – although this theory has yet to be tested.”

Senior author and deputy director at NICM, Professor Jerome Sarris says, “While the results of our data analysis reveal that nutrient deficiencies are endemic in people suffering from first-episode psychosis, further work is needed to determine whether this is a by-product of the disorder, an effect from psychiatric medications, or whether lifestyle factors are to blame.”

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The study Nutritional Deficiencies and Clinical Correlates in First-Episode Psychosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbx162

1.     World Health Organisation, 2016 (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs397/en/)

 

Public Release: 1-Dec-2017

UTHealth scientists help explain how dietary fat affects stem cell differentiation

University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

You are what you eat when it comes to fat, report scientists from McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) in the journal Science Advances.

Dietary fats are converted into lipids, which make up the membranes that surround all living cells.

The type of fat a person consumes may determine whether stem cells are converted into bone cells or fat cells, said Ilya Levental, Ph.D., the study’s senior author and assistant professor of integrative biology and pharmacology at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.

“The fats that we consume such as cholesterol, unsaturated fats and fish oil become robustly incorporated into the membranes of our cells and dramatically change the composition and function of those membranes,” said Levental, a Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Scholar.

To test their theory, Kandice Levental, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and assistant professor of integrative biology and pharmacology at McGovern Medical School, measured the lipid content of mesenchymal (connective tissue) stem cells as they transformed into bone cells or fat cells.

The Leventals found that bone cell membranes had unique compositions, being particularly high in a type of dietary fat, omega-3 polyunsaturated fat. This fat is also called DHA and is the most abundant component of fish oil, a common dietary supplement. Most importantly, they found that adding such fish oil fats to mesenchymal stem cells pushed them to transform into osteoblasts (bone-forming cells) as opposed to adipocytes (fat-storing cells).

This fundamental research helps explain why fish oil might benefit people with osteoporosis, a bone weakening disorder. More broadly, it may provide insight into the many connections between dietary fats and a variety of clinical outcomes, including healthy aging and heart disease.

“Our investigations suggest a general mechanism by which dietary fats affect cellular physiology through remodeling of membrane lipidomes, biophysical properties and signaling,” the authors wrote.

Public Release: 7-Dec-2017

Temple research: Canola oil linked to worsened memory & learning ability in Alzheimer’s

Temple University Health System

 (Philadelphia, PA) – Canola oil is one of the most widely consumed vegetable oils in the world, yet surprisingly little is known about its effects on health. Now, a new study published online December 7 in the journal Scientific Reports by researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) associates the consumption of canola oil in the diet with worsened memory, worsened learning ability and weight gain in mice which model Alzheimer’s disease. The study is the first to suggest that canola oil is more harmful than healthful for the brain.

“Canola oil is appealing because it is less expensive than other vegetable oils, and it is advertised as being healthy,” explained Domenico Praticò, MD, Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Microbiology and Director of the Alzheimer’s Center at LKSOM, as well as senior investigator on the study. “Very few studies, however, have examined that claim, especially in terms of the brain.”

Curious about how canola oil affects brain function, Dr. Praticò and Elisabetta Lauretti, a graduate student in Dr. Pratico’s laboratory at LKSOM and co-author on the new study, focused their work on memory impairment and the formation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model. Amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau, which is responsible for the formation of tau neurofibrillary tangles, contribute to neuronal dysfunction and degeneration and memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease. The animal model was designed to recapitulate Alzheimer’s in humans, progressing from an asymptomatic phase in early life to full-blown disease in aged animals.

Dr. Praticò and Lauretti had previously used the same mouse model in an investigation of olive oil, the results of which were published earlier in 2017. In that study, they found that Alzheimer mice fed a diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil had reduced levels of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau and experienced memory improvement. For their latest work, they wanted to determine whether canola oil is similarly beneficial for the brain.

The researchers started by dividing the mice into two groups at six months of age, before the animals developed signs of Alzheimer’s disease. One group was fed a normal diet, while the other was fed a diet supplemented with the equivalent of about two tablespoons of canola oil daily.

The researchers then assessed the animals at 12 months. One of the first differences observed was in body weight – animals on the canola oil-enriched diet weighed significantly more than mice on the regular diet. Maze tests to assess working memory, short-term memory, and learning ability uncovered additional differences. Most significantly, mice that had consumed canola oil over a period of six months suffered impairments in working memory.

Examination of brain tissue from the two groups of mice revealed that canola oil-treated animals had greatly reduced levels of amyloid beta 1-40. Amyloid beta 1-40 is the more soluble form of the amyloid beta proteins. It generally is considered to serve a beneficial role in the brain and acts as a buffer for the more harmful insoluble form, amyloid beta 1-42.

As a result of decreased amyloid beta 1-40, animals on the canola oil diet further showed increased formation of amyloid plaques in the brain, with neurons engulfed in amyloid beta 1-42. The damage was accompanied by a significant decrease in the number of contacts between neurons, indicative of extensive synapse injury. Synapses, the areas where neurons come into contact with one another, play a central role in memory formation and retrieval.

“Amyloid beta 1-40 neutralizes the actions of amyloid 1-42, which means that a decrease in 1-40, like the one observed in our study, leaves 1-42 unchecked,” Dr. Praticò explained. “In our model, this change in ratio resulted in considerable neuronal damage, decreased neural contacts, and memory impairment.”

The findings suggest that long-term consumption of canola oil is not beneficial to brain health. “Even though canola oil is a vegetable oil, we need to be careful before we say that it is healthy,” Dr. Praticò said. “Based on the evidence from this study, canola oil should not be thought of as being equivalent to oils with proven health benefits.”

The next step is to carry out a study of shorter duration to determine the minimum extent of exposure necessary to produce observable changes in the ratio of amyloid beta 1-42 to 1-40 in the brain and alter synapse connections. A longer study may be warranted in order to determine whether canola oil also eventually impacts tau phosphorylation, since no effects on tau were observed over the six-month exposure period.

“We also want to know whether the negative effects of canola oil are specific for Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Praticò added. “There is a chance that the consumption of canola oil could also affect the onset and course of other neurodegenerative diseases or other forms of dementia.”

Public Release: 6-Dec-2017

Can diet help reduce disability, symptoms of MS?

American Academy of Neurology

MINNEAPOLIS – For people with multiple sclerosis (MS), eating a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains may be linked to having less disability and fewer symptoms than people whose diet is less healthy, according to a study published in the December 6, 2017, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“People with MS often ask if there is anything they can do to delay or avoid disability, and many people want to know if their diet can play a role, but there have been few studies investigating this,” said study author Kathryn C. Fitzgerald, ScD, of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md., and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “While this study does not determine whether a healthy lifestyle reduces MS symptoms or whether having severe symptoms makes it harder for people to engage in a healthy lifestyle, it provides evidence for the link between the two.”

The study involved 6,989 people with all types of MS who completed questionnaires about their diet as part of the North American Research Committee (NARCOMS) registry. The definition of a healthy diet focused on eating more fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains and less sugar from desserts and sweetened beverages and less red meat and processed meat. The participants were divided into five groups based on how healthy their diet was.

Researchers also assessed whether participants had an overall healthy lifestyle, which was defined as having a healthy weight, getting regular physical activity, eating a better than average diet and not smoking.

The participants were also asked whether they had a relapse of MS symptoms or a gradual worsening of symptoms in the past six months and reported their level of disability and how severe their symptoms were in areas such as fatigue, mobility, pain and depression.

People in the group with the healthiest diet were 20 percent less likely to have more severe physical disability than people in the group with the least healthy diet. The results were true even after researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect disability, such as age and how long they had MS. Individuals with the healthiest diets also were also around 20 percent less likely to have more severe depression than individuals with the least healthy diet.

Those with the best diet ate an average of 1.7 servings of whole grains per day, compared to 0.3 servings per day for those with the least healthy diet. For fruits, vegetables, and legumes (not including French fries), the top group had 3.3 servings per day while the bottom group had 1.7 servings per day.

People with an overall healthy lifestyle were nearly 50 percent less likely to have depression, 30 percent less likely to have severe fatigue and more than 40 percent less likely to have pain than people who did not have a healthy lifestyle.

The study also looked at whether people followed a specific diet, including popular diets such as Paleo, weight-loss plans or diets that have been touted in self-help books and websites as beneficial for people with MS, such as the Wahls’ diet. The researchers found that overall, past or current use of these diets was associated with modestly reduced risk of increased disability.

Fitzgerald said one limitation of the study is that due to study design, it cannot be known if healthy diets predict changes to MS symptoms in the future. Another limitation was that the participants mostly tended to be older, mainly white and had been diagnosed with MS for an average of nearly 20 years, so the results may not be applicable to everyone with MS.

Public Release: 11-Dec-2017

Your mood depends on the food you eat, and what you should eat changes as you get older

Young adults and mature adults require different food to improve their mental health

Binghamton University

BINGHAMTON, NY- Diet and dietary practices differentially affect mental health in young adults versus older adults, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Lina Begdache, assistant professor of health and wellness studies at Binghamton University, along with fellow Binghamton researchers, conducted an anonymous internet survey, asking people around the world to complete the Food-Mood Questionnaire (FMQ), which includes questions on food groups that have been associated with neurochemistry and neurobiology. Analyzing the data, Begdache and Assistant Professor of Systems Science and Industrial Engineering Nasim Sabounchi found that mood in young adults (18-29) seems to be dependent on food that increases availability of neurotransmitter precursors and concentrations in the brain (meat). However, mood in mature adults (over 30 years) may be more reliant on food that increases availability of antioxidants (fruits) and abstinence of food that inappropriately activates the sympathetic nervous system (coffee, high glycemic index and skipping breakfast).

“One of the major findings of this paper is that diet and dietary practices differentially affect mental health in young adults versus mature adults,” said Begdache. “Another noteworthy finding is that young adult mood appears to be sensitive to build-up of brain chemicals. Regular consumption of meat leads to build-up of two brain chemicals (serotonin and dopamine) known to promote mood. Regular exercise leads to build-up of these and other neurotransmitters as well. In other words, young adults who ate meat (red or white) less than three times a week and exercised less than three times week showed a significant mental distress.”

“Conversely, mature adult mood seems to be more sensitive to regular consumption of sources of antioxidants and abstinence of food that inappropriately activates the innate fight-or-flight response (commonly known as the stress response),” added Begdache. “With aging, there is an increase in free radical formation (oxidants), so our need for antioxidants increases. Free radicals cause disturbances in the brain, which increases the risk for mental distress. Also, our ability to regulate stress decreases, so if we consume food that activates the stress response (such as coffee and too much carbohydrates), we are more likely to experience mental distress.”

Begdache and her team are interested in comparing dietary intake between men and women in relation to mental distress. There is a gender difference in brain morphology which may be also sensitive to dietary components, and may potentially explain some the documented gender-specific mental distress risk, said Begdache.

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The paper, “Assessment of Dietary Factors, Dietary Practices and Exercise on Mental Distress in Young Adults versus Matured Adults: A Cross-Sectional Study,” was published in Nutritional Neuroscience.

Public Release: 11-Dec-2017

Soy, cruciferous vegetables associated with fewer common breast cancer treatment side effects

Georgetown University Medical Center

WASHINGTON — Consuming soy foods (such as soy milk, tofu and edamame) and cruciferous vegetables (such as cabbages, kale, collard greens, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli) may be associated with a reduction in common side effects of breast cancer treatment in breast cancer survivors, say a team of scientists led by Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

In the study, published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, higher intake of cruciferous vegetables and soy foods were associated with fewer reports of menopausal symptoms. Higher soy intake was also associated with less reported fatigue. The breast cancer survivors studied included 173 non-Hispanic white and 192 Chinese Americans including US-born Chinese and Chinese immigrants.

Researchers say breast cancer survivors often experience side effects from cancer treatments that can persist months or years after completion of treatment. For example, because many treatments designed to prevent breast cancer recurrence inhibit the body’s production or use of estrogen, the hormone that can fuel breast cancer growth, breast cancer patients often experience hot flashes and night sweats, among other side effects.

The lead author on the study, Sarah Oppeneer Nomura, PhD, of Georgetown Lombardi, said that while further research is needed in larger study populations and with more detailed dietary data, this project addresses an important gap in research on the possible role of lifestyle factors, such as dietary habits, in relation to side effects of treatments.

“These symptoms can adversely impact survivors’ quality of life and can lead them to stopping ongoing treatments, she says. “Understanding the role of life style factors is important because diet can serve as a modifiable target for possibly reducing symptoms among breast cancer survivors.”

When study participants were evaluated separately by race/ethnicity, associations were significant among white breast cancer survivors; however; while a trend was seen in the benefit for Chinese women, results were not statically significant. Researchers explain Chinese women typically report fewer menopausal symptoms. Most of them also consume cruciferous vegetables and soy foods, making it difficult to see a significant effect in this subgroup. Indeed, in this study, Chinese breast cancer survivors ate more than twice as much soy and cruciferous vegetables.

Whether the reduction in symptoms accounts for longtime use of soy and cruciferous vegetables needs further investigation, says the study’s senior author, Judy Huei-yu Wang, PhD, of Georgetown Lombardi’s Cancer Prevention and Control Program.

Results obtained in preclinical studies in animals show that biologically active compounds present in both soy and cruciferous vegetables cause breast cancer cells to grow, but have opposite effects in animals that consume these compounds well before cancer is diagnosed and continue consuming them during and after cancer treatments.

Until more research is conducted, breast cancer patients should not suddenly start eating soy, if they have not consumed it before, says Leena Hilakivi-Clarke, PhD, a professor of oncology at Georgetown Lombardi and a co-author of the study.

Researchers also found suggestive associations with lower reporting of other symptoms, including joint problems, hair thinning/loss and memory less in women who consumed more soy foods, but these associations did not reach statistical significance.

Phytochemicals, or bioactive food components, such as isoflavones in soy foods and glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables may be the source of the benefit, researchers say. Isoflavones bind to estrogen receptors and exert weak estrogenic effects, among other effects. Glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables influence levels of metabolizing enzymes that can modulate inflammation and levels of estrogen, possibly attenuating treatment-related symptoms.

Public Release: 8-Dec-2017

Taurine lends hand to repair cells damaged in multiple sclerosis

Scripps Research Institute

LA JOLLA, Calif. – Dec. 7, 2017 – New research suggests that administering taurine, a molecule naturally produced by human cells, could boost the effectiveness of current multiple sclerosis (MS) therapies. Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) found that taurine helps spark a process called remyelination, which is crucial to repairing the nerve cells damaged in multiple sclerosis.

“Remission of MS symptoms is dependent on the process of remyelination, so using taurine in combination with an existing MS drug and a future remyelination-inducing treatment may help patients by improving overall efficacy,” says Luke Lairson, PhD, assistant professor of chemistry at TSRI and co-senior author of the study. “This could be something to add to an MS therapeutic regime.”

The discovery also highlights the potential for a technique called “metabolomic profiling,” which can identify useful endogenous metabolites the body already makes in small quantities, such as taurine, for new applications in drug therapies.

“Metabolomic profiling can offer unique insight into many different diseases, both mechanistically and therapeutically,” says study co-senior author Gary Siuzdak, PhD, senior director of TSRI’s Scripps Center for Metabolomics and professor of chemistry, molecular and computational biology.

The research was published recently in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

Taurine helps drive cell maturation

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that develops when the body begins attacking the protective myelin sheaths on nerve cells. Without healthy myelin sheaths, nerve cells cannot communicate properly, and patients experience symptoms such as numbness, difficulty walking, slurred speech and vision loss.

Although there is no cure for MS, some current drug therapies can reduce MS relapses by encouraging re-myelination. In a 2013 Nature study, Lairson and colleagues showed that the drug benztropine, approved for Parkinson’s disease, may also help MS patients by inducing cells called oligodendrocyte precursor cells to mature into myelin-producing oligodendrocytes and repair damaged nerves.

Lairson’s next step was to find molecules that could make remyelination-inducing drugs even more effective, so he teamed up with Siuzdak to test the potential of molecules called endogenous metabolites to influence oligodendrocyte precursor cells. Endogenous (meaning “originating from within”) metabolites are molecules naturally made by cells and include sugars, fatty acids and amino acids.

The new analysis and follow-up tests in cells showed that while the endogenous metabolite taurine cannot induce oligodendrocyte precursor cell maturation on its own, it can lend a helping hand when combined with the drugs benztropine or miconazole. The researchers described taurine as a “feedstock.”

“Combining taurine with drugs that induce differentiation significantly enhances the process,” says Lairson. “You get more myelin.”

Lairson says this discovery is exciting because taurine has already been shown to be safe at certain doses and is readily used by the brain. “We still need to do tests in rodent models, but this is a good starting point,” he said.

Advances at TSRI have big implications for medicine

With this study’s finding that administering a particular endogenous metabolite can influence a cell’s fate and function, researchers have a new path for developing novel therapies for many diseases.

Metabolomic profiling takes advantage of technical developments, led by Siuzdak at TSRI, which scientists can use to analyze metabolic perturbations in disease and then apply that information to decipher mechanistic details. Ultimately, researchers hope to identify active endogenous metabolites with potential to reverse pathology-related phenotypes.

Siuzdak is encouraged by the nearly 21,000 scientists who currently use his lab’s cloud-based XCMS/METLIN metabolomic profiling platform for these types of studies–and the interesting active roles metabolites are exhibiting.

“Unlike other omic technologies, the beauty of metabolomics and activity testing is that metabolites are readily commercially accessible, generally inexpensive, and can directly impact phenotype quickly,” says Siuzdak. “We are no longer passive observers but instead active participants.”

Public Release: 13-Dec-2017

Lactic acid bacteria can protect against Influenza A virus, study finds

Georgia State University

Credit: Georgia State University

ATLANTA — Lactic acid bacteria, commonly used as probiotics to improve digestive health, can offer protection against different subtypes of influenza A virus, resulting in reduced weight loss after virus infection and lower amounts of virus replication in the lungs, according to a study led by Georgia State University.

Influenza virus can cause severe respiratory disease in humans. Although vaccines for seasonal influenza viruses are readily available, influenza virus infections cause three to five million life-threatening illnesses and 250,000 to 500,000 deaths worldwide during epidemics. Pandemic outbreaks and air transmission can rapidly cause severe disease and claim many more human lives worldwide. This occurs because current vaccines are effective only when vaccine strains and circulating influenza viruses are well matched.

Influenza A virus, which infects humans, birds and pigs, has many different subtypes based on hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) proteins on the surface of the virus. There are 18 different HA and 11 different NA subtype molecules identified, which indicates numerous HA and NA influenza virus combinations. As a result, it’s important to find ways to provide broad protection against influenza viruses, regardless of the virus strain.

Fermented vegetables and dairy products contain a variety of lactic acid bacteria, which have a number of health benefits in addition to being used as probiotics. Studies have found some lactic acid bacteria strains provide partial protection against bacterial infectious diseases, such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, as well as cold and influenza viruses.

This study investigated the antiviral protective effects of a heat-killed strain of lactic acid bacteria, Lactobacillus casei DK128 (DK128), a promising probiotic isolated from fermented vegetables, on influenza viruses.

Mice pretreated with DK128 intranasally and infected with influenza A virus showed a variety of immune responses that are correlated with protection against influenza virus, including an increase in the alveolar macrophage cells in the lungs and airways, early induction of virus specific antibodies and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and innate immune cells. The mice also developed immunity against secondary influenza virus infection by other virus subtypes. The findings are published in the journal Scientific Reports.

“We found that pretreating the mice with heat-killed Lactobacillus casei DK128 bacteria made them resistant to lethal primary and secondary influenza A virus infection and protected them against weight loss and mortality,” said Dr. Sang-Moo Kang, lead author of the study and professor in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State. “Our results are highly significant because mice pretreated with DK128 had 100 percent survival and prevention of weight loss. This strain of lactic acid bacteria also equipped mice with cross-protective immunity against secondary lethal infection with influenza virus. Protection against influenza virus infection was not specific to a particular strain of influenza.

“Our study provides evidence that heat-killed lactic acid bacteria could potentially be administered via a nasal spray as a prophylactic drug against non-specific influenza virus infections.”

The researchers pretreated mice intranasally with heat-killed DK128 and then infected them with a lethal dose of influenza A virus, subtype H3N2 or H1N1. Mice pretreated with a low dose of DK128 showed 10 to 12 percent weight loss, but survived the lethal infection of H3N2 or H1N1 virus. In contrast, mice pretreated with a higher dose of heat-killed DK128 did not show weight loss. Control mice, which were not pretreated with DK128, showed severe weight loss by days eight and nine of the infection and all of these mice died.

Mice that received heat-killed lactic acid bacteria (DK128) prior to infection had about 18 times less influenza virus in their lungs compared to control mice.

Next, the researchers tested protection against secondary influenza virus infection by infecting pretreated mice with a different influenza A subtype from their primary virus infection. For the secondary virus infection, mice were exposed to H1N1 or rgH5N1.

The study’s results suggest that pretreatment with lactic acid bacteria, specifically DK128, equips mice with the capacity to have protective immunity against a broad range of primary and secondary influenza A virus infections.

Public Release: 14-Dec-2017

Drinking hot tea every day linked to lower glaucoma risk

But hot coffee, iced tea, and soft drinks don’t seem to make any difference, say researchers

BMJ

Drinking a cup of hot tea at least once a day may be linked to a significantly lower risk of developing the serious eye condition, glaucoma, finds a small study published online in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

But drinking decaffeinated and caffeinated coffee, decaffeinated tea, iced tea and soft drinks doesn’t seem to make any difference to glaucoma risk, the findings show.

Glaucoma causes fluid pressure to build up inside the eye (intraocular pressure), damaging the optic nerve. It is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide, and currently affects 57.5 million people, and is expected to increase to 65.5 million by 2020.

Previous research suggests that caffeine can alter intraocular pressure, but no study so far has compared the potential impact of decaffeinated and caffeinated drinks on glaucoma risk.

So the researchers looked at data from the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in the US. This is a nationally representative annual survey of around 10, 000 people that includes interviews, physical examinations, and blood samples, designed to gauge the health and nutritional status of US adults and children.

In this particular year, it also included eye tests for glaucoma. Among the 1678 participants who had full eye test results, including photos, 84 (5%) adults had developed the condition.

They were asked how often and how much they had drunk of caffeinated and decaffeinated drinks, including soft drinks and iced tea, over the preceding 12 months, using a validated questionnaire (Food Frequency).

Compared with those who didn’t drink hot tea every day, those who did, had a lower glaucoma risk, the data showed.

After taking account of potentially influential factors, such as diabetes and smoking, hot tea-drinkers were 74 per cent less likely to have glaucoma.

But no such associations were found for coffee–caffeinated or decaffeinated–decaffeinated tea, iced tea or soft drinks.

This is an observational study so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, and the absolute numbers of those with glaucoma were small. Information on when glaucoma had been diagnosed was also unavailable.

Nor did the survey ask about factors like cup size, tea type, or the length of brewing time, all of which might have been influential.

But tea contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective chemicals, which have been associated with a lowered risk of serious conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, say the researchers.

And previous research has suggested that oxidation and neurodegeneration may be involved in the development of glaucoma, they add, concluding: “Further research is needed to establish the importance of these findings and whether hot tea consumption may play a role in the prevention of glaucoma.”

Public Release: 20-Dec-2017

Blueberry vinegar improves memory in mice with amnesia

American Chemical Society

 

Dementia affects millions of people worldwide, robbing them of their ability to think, remember and live as they once did. In the search for new ways to fight cognitive decline, scientists report in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that blueberry vinegar might offer some help. They found that the fermented product could restore cognitive function in mice.

Recent studies have shown that the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, have lower levels of the signaling compound acetylcholine and its receptors. Research has also demonstrated that blocking acetylcholine receptors disrupts learning and memory. Drugs to stop the breakdown of acetylcholine have been developed to fight dementia, but they often don’t last long in the body and can be toxic to the liver. Natural extracts could be a safer treatment option, and some animal studies suggest that these extracts can improve cognition. Additionally, fermentation can boost the bioactivity of some natural products. So Beong-Ou Lim and colleagues wanted to test whether vinegar made from blueberries, which are packed with a wide range of active compounds, might help prevent cognitive decline.

To carry out their experiment, the researchers administered blueberry vinegar to mice with induced amnesia. Measurements of molecules in their brains showed that the vinegar reduced the breakdown of acetylcholine and boosted levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein associated with maintaining and creating healthy neurons. To test how the treatment affected cognition, the researchers analyzed the animals’ performance in mazes and an avoidance test, in which the mice would receive a low-intensity shock in one of two chambers. The treated rodents showed improved performance in both of these tests, suggesting that the fermented product improved short-term memory. Thus, although further testing is needed, the researchers say that blueberry vinegar could potentially be a promising food to help treat amnesia and cognitive decline related to aging.

Public Release: 21-Dec-2017

Diet rich in apples and tomatoes may help repair lungs of ex-smokers, study suggests

Study also found that regular intake of tomatoes may also help slow the natural decline in lung function among all adults

Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

A study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found the natural decline in lung function over a 10-year period was slower among former smokers with a diet high in tomatoes and fruits, especially apples, suggesting certain components in these foods might help restore lung damage caused by smoking.

The researchers found that adults who on average ate more than two tomatoes or more than three portions of fresh fruit a day had a slower decline in lung function compared to those who ate less than one tomato or less than one portion of fruit a day, respectively. The researchers inquired about other dietary sources such as dishes and processed foods containing fruits and vegetables (e.g. tomato sauce) but the protective effect was only observed in fresh fruit and vegetables.

The paper, which is part of the Ageing Lungs in European Cohorts (ALEC) Study, funded by the European Commission and led by Imperial College London, also found a slower decline in lung function among all adults, including those who had never or had stopped smoking, with the highest tomato consumption. Poor lung function has been linked with mortality risks from all diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, and lung cancer.

The findings appear in the December issue of the European Respiratory Journal.

“This study shows that diet might help repair lung damage in people who have stopped smoking. It also suggests that a diet rich in fruits can slow down the lung’s natural aging process even if you have never smoked,” says Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health and the study’s lead author. “The findings support the need for dietary recommendations, especially for people at risk of developing respiratory diseases such as COPD.”

For the study, the research team assessed diet and lung function of more than 650 adults in 2002, and then repeated lung function tests on the same group of participants 10 years later. Participants from three European countries — Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom — completed questionnaires assessing their diets and overall nutritional intake. They also underwent spirometry, a procedure that measures the capacity of lungs to take in oxygen.

The test collects two standard measurements of lung function: Forced Exhaled Volume in 1 second (FEV1), which measures how much air a person can expel from their lungs in one second; and Forced Vital Capacity (FVC), the total amount of air a person can inhale in 6 seconds. The study controlled for factors such as age, height, sex, body mass index (an indicator of obesity), socio-economic status, physical activity and total energy intake.

Among former smokers, the diet-lung-function connection was even more striking. Ex-smokers who ate a diet high in tomatoes and fruits had around 80 ml slower decline over the ten-year period. This suggests that nutrients in their diets are helping to repair damage done by smoking.

“Lung function starts to decline at around age 30 at variable speed depending on the general and specific health of individuals,” explains Garcia-Larsen “Our study suggests that eating more fruits on a regular basis can help attenuate the decline as people age, and might even help repair damage caused by smoking. Diet could become one way of combating rising diagnosis of COPD around the world.”

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“Dietary antioxidants and ten-year lung function decline in adults from the ECRHS survey” was written by Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, James F Potts, Ernst Omenaas, Joachim Heinrich, Cecilie Svanes, Judith Garcia-Aymerich, Peter G Burney, and Deborah L Jarvis

The ALEC Study is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under grant agreement No. 633212.