CNO Report # 256
Release Date: 12 JUL 2018
Draft Report Compiled by
In This Issue:
1. How much exercise is needed to help improve thinking skills?
2. New study finds plant protein, fiber, nuts lower cholesterol, improve blood pressure
3. Mangos help promote gut health
4. Customized resistance exercise a factor for success with fibromyalgia
5. Essential oils to fight bacterial infections
6. Scientists identify foods that fight disease
7. Mangoes helped improve cardiovascular and gut health in women
8. Supplemental antioxidants may reduce exacerbations in cystic fibrosis
9. Consumption of fast food linked with asthma and other allergic diseases
10. Possible link found between diabetes and common white pigment
11. Coconut oil prolongs life in peroxisomal disorders
12. Probiotics can protect the skeletons of older women
13. Study finds significant proportion of older adults are deficient in vitamin B12 and folate
14. Substance found in grapes prevents agglomeration of a mutant protein that leads to cancer
15. Dietary supplement increases muscle force by 50% percent in the Duchenne muscular dystrophy mouse model
Public Release: 30-May-2018
How much exercise is needed to help improve thinking skills?
American Academy of Neurology
MINNEAPOLIS – We know that exercise may help improve thinking skills. But how much exercise? And for how long? To find the answers, researchers reviewed all of the studies where older adults were asked to exercise for at least four weeks and their tests of thinking and memory skills were compared to those of people who did not start a new exercise routine. The review is published in the May 30, 2018, online issue of Neurology® Clinical Practice, an official journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
They found that people who exercised an average of at least 52 hours over about six months for about an hour each session may improve their thinking skills. In contrast, people who exercised for an average of 34 hours over the same time period did not show any improvement in their thinking skills.
The review did not find a relationship between a weekly amount of exercise and improved thinking skills.
“These results suggest that a longer-term exercise program may be necessary to gain the benefits in thinking skills,” said study author Joyce Gomes-Osman, PT, PhD, of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida. “We were excited to see that even people who participated in lower intensity exercise programs showed a benefit to their thinking skills. Not everyone has the endurance or motivation to start a moderately intense exercise program, but everyone can benefit even from a less intense plan.”
The review included 98 randomized, controlled trials with a total of 11,061 participants with an average age of 73. Of the total participants, 59 percent were categorized as healthy adults, 26 percent had mild cognitive impairment and 15 percent had dementia. A total of 58 percent did not regularly exercise before being enrolled in a study.
Researchers collected data on exercise session length, intensity, weekly frequency and amount of exercise over time. Aerobic exercise was the most common type of exercise, with walking the most common aerobic exercise and others including biking and dancing. Some studies used a combination of aerobic exercise along with strength, or resistance training and some used strength training alone. A small number of studies used mind-body exercises such as yoga or Tai chi.
After evaluating all of the data, researchers found that in both healthy people and people with cognitive impairment longer term exposure to exercise, at least 52 hours of exercise conducted over an average of about six months, improved the brain’s processing speed, the amount of time it takes to complete a mental task. In healthy people, that same amount of exercise also improved executive function, a person’s ability to manage time, pay attention and achieve goals. However, researchers found no link between the amount of exercise and improved memory skills. Aerobic exercise, strength training, mind-body exercise and combinations of these were all found to be beneficial to thinking skills.
“Only the total length of time exercising could be linked to improved thinking skills,” said Gomes-Osman. “But our results may also provide further insight. With a majority of participants being sedentary when they first enrolled in a study, our research suggests that using exercise to combat sedentary behavior may be a reason why thinking skills improved.”
Future studies could further investigate which thinking abilities experience the greatest improvement with exercise. They could also look at the short-term and long-term effects of exercise in both sedentary and physically fit individuals.
Public Release: 4-Jun-2018
New study finds plant protein, fiber, nuts lower cholesterol, improve blood pressure
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
WASHINGTON – A new meta-analysis published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases finds that a diet that includes plant protein, fiber, nuts, and plant sterols lowers cholesterol, improves blood pressure, and improves other markers for cardiovascular disease risk.
The diet is based on the “Portfolio Diet,” which is a plant-based dietary pattern that emphasizes a portfolio of four proven cholesterol-lowering foods:
- 42 grams of nuts (tree nuts or peanuts) per day
- 50 grams of plant protein per day from soy products or dietary pulses (beans, peas, chickpeas, or lentils) per day
- 20 grams of viscous soluble fiber per day from oats, barley, psyllium, eggplant, okra, apples, oranges, or berries
- 2 grams of plant sterols per day from supplements or plant-sterol enriched products
The meta-analysis found that following the dietary pattern reduced LDL-cholesterol by 17 percent, while also reducing total cholesterol, triglycerides, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and C-reactive protein. It also helped reduce 10-year coronary heart disease risk by 13 percent.
“Previous clinical trials and observational studies have found strong evidence that a plant-based diet can improve heart health,” says study author Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., director of clinical research for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “This study demonstrates that certain plant foods are especially effective for lowering cholesterol and boosting our overall cardiovascular health.”
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for 1 in every 4 deaths.
Journalists: For a copy of the study or an interview with the study authors, please reach out to Laura Anderson at landerson@PCRM.org or 202-527-7396.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research and medical training.
Public Release: 6-Jun-2018
Mangos help promote gut health
Eating mangos found to be more effective in relieving constipation and reducing intestinal inflammation than comparable amount of fiber
Weber Shandwick Chicago
ORLANDO, FL (June 6, 2018) — Next time you suffer from constipation, you may want to consider grabbing a mango instead of reaching for a fiber supplement, suggests a new Texas A & M University pilot study published in the peer-reviewed journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. The researchers found that mango, which contains a combination of polyphenols and fiber, was more effective than an equivalent amount of fiber powder in relieving constipation – a chronic digestive condition that affects an estimated 20 percent of Americans.
“Our findings suggest that mango offers an advantage over fiber supplements because of the bioactive polyphenols contained in mangos that helped reduce markers of inflammation and change the make-up of the microbiome, which includes trillions of bacteria and other microbes living in our digestive track,” said corresponding author Susanne U. Mertens-Talcott, an associate professor in the department of nutrition and food science at Texas A & M University. “Fiber supplements and laxatives may aid in the treatment of constipation, but they may not fully address all symptoms, such as intestinal inflammation.”
For the four-week study, 36 adult men and women with chronic constipation were randomly divided into two groups: the mango group ate about 300 grams of mango a day (equivalent to about 2 cups or 1 mango), while the fiber group consumed the equivalent amount of fiber powder into their daily diet (1 teaspoon or 5 grams of dietary psyllium fiber supplement).
Throughout the study, the participants’ food intake was assessed by a food questionnaire to ensure that their eating habits did not change. The food intake analysis revealed that the mango and fiber groups consumed equivalent amounts of calories, carbohydrates, fiber, protein and fat.
Measures of constipation severity were taken at the beginning and end of four weeks, and both the mango and fiber groups improved over the course of the study. However, mangos were found to be more effective in reducing the symptoms of constipation in the participants than fiber alone. Mango supplementation significantly improved constipation status (stool frequency, consistency and shape) and increased short chain fatty acids levels, which indicate improvement of intestinal microbial composition. Mango consumption also helped to reduce certain biomarkers of inflammation.
The researchers conclude that more research is needed to determine the mechanism of action involved in the mango protective effect in constipation and which role mango polyphenols may play in supporting the beneficial effects of fiber.
Public Release: 7-Jun-2018
Customized resistance exercise a factor for success with fibromyalgia
University of Gothenburg
Fibromyalgia and resistance exercise have often been considered an impossible combination. But with proper support and individually adjusted exercises, female patients achieved considerable health improvements, according to research carried out at Sahlgrenska Academy, Sweden.
“If the goal for these women is to improve their strength, then they shouldn’t be afraid to exercise, but they need to exercise the right way. It has long been said that they will only experience more pain as a result of resistance exercise, that it doesn’t work. But in fact, it does,” says Anette Larsson, whose dissertation was in physical therapy and who is an active physical therapist.
As part of her dissertation, she studied 130 women aged between 20-65 years with fibromyalgia, a disease in which nine of ten cases are women. It is characterized by widespread muscle pain and increased pain sensitivity, often combined with fatigue, reduced physical capacity and limitation of activities in daily life.
About half of the women in the study (67) were selected at random to undergo a program of person-centered, progressive resistance exercise led by a physical therapist. The other 63 women comprised the control group and underwent a more traditional therapy program with relaxation exercises. The training and exercises lasted for fifteen weeks and were held twice a week.
“The women who did resistance exercise began at very light weights, which were determined individually for each participant because they have highly varying levels of strength. We began at 40 percent of the max and then remained that level for three to four weeks before increasing to 60 percent,” explains Anette Larsson.
More than six of ten women were able to reach a level of exercise at 80 percent of their maximum strength. One of the ten was at 60 percent; the others were below that figure. Five individuals chose to stop the training due to increased pain. The group as a whole had 71 percent attendance at the exercise sessions.
“On a group level, the improvements were significant for essentially everything we measured. The women felt better, gained muscle strength, had less pain, better pain tolerance, better health-related quality of life and less limitation of activities. Some of the women did not manage the exercise and became worse, which is also an important part of the findings,” says Anette Larsson.
In the control group, the improvements were not as significant, but even there, hand and arm strength improved. The relaxation exercises probably led to reduced muscle tension in the arms and shoulders, which in turn allowed the participants to develop more strength.
The findings for the women in the resistance exercise group are affected by several factors, including the degree of pain and fear of movement before and during the exercise period. Progress for the group as a whole can largely be attributed to the person-centered approach, with individually adjusted exercises and loads and support of a physical therapist, according to Anette Larsson.
“An interview study we conducted shows clearly that the women need support to be able to choose the right exercises and the right loads; they also need help when pain increases. This requires, quite simply, support from someone who knows their disease, preferably a physical therapist.”
Public Release: 7-Jun-2018
Essential oils to fight bacterial infections
James Cook University
James Cook University scientists have discovered a technique to apply natural plant extracts such as Tea Tree Oil as a coating for medical devices, a process which could prevent millions of infections every year.
Professor Mohan Jacob, Head of Electrical and Electronics Engineering at JCU, leads a team investigating the problem. He said an increasing number of unplanned surgeries are being performed to fight infections – mostly caused by bacterial activity on medical devices and a subsequent ‘biofilm’ forming on them.
“Just in the US, about 17 million new biofilm-related infections are reported annually, leading to approximately 550,000 fatalities each year. It’s thought about 80% of worldwide surgery-associated infections may relate to biofilm formation,” he said.
Professor Jacob said the team converted plant-based products – known as Plant Secondary Metabolites (PSMs) – into polymer coatings for medical devices, including implants.
“They’re derived from such things as essential oils and herb extracts and they have relatively powerful broad-spectrum antibacterial activities. PSMs are a low-cost renewable resource available in commercial quantities, with limited toxicity, and potentially, different mechanisms for fighting bacteria than synthetic antibiotics.”
Professor Jacob said the group’s research tackled the persistent problem of how to convert the plant extracts from a liquid to a solid state as a coating for medical devices, without a significant loss of effectiveness.
Dr Katia Bazaka is an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow and team member. “We used plasma-enhanced techniques within a reactor containing the essential oil vapours. When the vapours are exposed to a glow discharge, they are transformed and settle on the surface of an implant as a solid biologically-active coating. These have shown good antibacterial properties,” she said.
“The main advantage of this approach is that we are not using other chemicals, such as solvents, during the fabrication process. As such, there is no threat of potentially harmful chemicals being retained in the coating or them damaging the surface of the material onto which the coating is applied. It also makes the fabrication process more environmentally friendly,” said Dr Bazaka.
Professor Jacob said the JCU group are currently the global pioneers in the development of plant-derived polymer thin films – publishing over 70 research articles and six PhD theses in the field.
Professor Ian Atkinson, Director of JCU’s eResearch unit and a collaborator on the project, said the work had recently been extended to target marine organisms, to prevent the growth of biofilms on aquatic sensors and their subsequent failure.
“Another attractive feature of these coatings is their optical transparency, which may be quite important if you are using them to coat contact lenses, or optical windows in aquatic sensors,” he said.
Professor Jacob and his PhD students are now collaborating with the Dr Peter Mulvey and Associate Professor Jeff Warner at the JCU-based Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine to study the activity of different types of bacteria on the plant- based coatings.
Even though synthetic antibiotics have been the best weapon for eradicating microbial infections since the arrival of penicillin, the overuse of these medications is gradually rendering them ineffective. Scientists think that if new strategies are not developed soon, medical treatments could retreat to the era where slight injuries and common infections develop into serious medical problems.
Most plants produce organic molecules as antimicrobial agents to combat harmful microorganisms. In the past few decades, progress in the synthesis of nanoscale materials, in particular plasma-assisted fabrication, has provided the means to retain the antimicrobial activities of plant secondary metabolites within bioactive coatings.
Though the JCU team investigated many natural precursors, their main focus was on the Australian based essential oil, Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) and its components. As part of a PhD project, Dr Katia Bazaka developed antibacterial coatings from terpene-4-ol, which is a major component of Tea Tree Oil.
Public Release: 10-Jun-2018
Scientists identify foods that fight disease
New research demonstrates benefits of foods, from eggs to coffee, for lowering risk of diabetes, cancer and other diseases
Boston (June 10, 2018) – The foods we eat play a significant role in our health. Scientists are discovering how eggs, nuts, dairy products, vegetables and even coffee can help protect against health problems. Nutrition 2018 will feature the latest research into how adding certain foods to our diet might help lower risk for diabetes, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and other health issues.
Nutrition 2018 is the inaugural flagship meeting of the American Society for Nutrition held June 9-12, 2018 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. Contact the media team for abstracts, images and interviews, or to obtain a free press pass to attend the meeting.
Improving diabetes risk factors
Eggs may reduce diabetes risk factors
Findings from a 12-week randomized study of overweight or obese individuals with pre- or type 2 diabetes suggests that eggs may help reduce risk factors associated with diabetes. Participants who ate an egg each day showed greater improvements in fasting blood sugar levels and insulin resistance than those who ate an egg substitute. Furthermore, eating eggs did not significantly change cholesterol levels. Shirin Pourafshar, University of Virginia, will present this research on Sunday, June 10, from 1-3 p.m. in the Hynes Convention Center, Auditorium (poster 102) (abstract).
Daily pecans might lower cardiometabolic risk factors
After four weeks of eating a small handful (about 1.5 ounces) of whole pecans daily, overweight adults age 45 or older who were otherwise healthy showed favorable changes in cardiometabolic risk factors including blood sugar levels, insulin resistance and insulin-producing cell function, compared to when study participants consumed a diet similar in total fat and fiber but without daily pecans. Additional research is required to determine if a small daily portion of pecans would help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes for middle-aged and older adults who are overweight or obese. Diane L. McKay, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, will present this research on Monday, June 11 from 3-5 p.m. in the Hynes Convention Center, Room 309 (abstract).
Combating cancer and loss of motor function
Homing in on dairy products that lower colorectal cancer risk
Researchers studying 101,677 people, ages 54 to 83 years, found that not all dairy products are equal when it comes to reducing colorectal cancer risk. Study participants who consumed low-fat or fermented dairy products such as yogurt showed the lowest risk for developing colorectal cancer. Yumie Takata, Oregon State University, will present this research on Monday, June 11, from 1-3 p.m. in the Hynes Convention Center, Hall D (poster 831) (abstract).
Vegetables and berries help reduce Parkinsonism risk
As a follow-up to a study that linked a healthy diet with a reduced risk of Parkinsonism (a group of neurological disorders that cause movement problems similar to those seen in Parkinson’s disease), researchers followed 706 people for an average of 4.6 years to find out if consuming fruits and vegetables may be specifically associated with lowered risk. Their analysis revealed that eating more vegetables (especially green leafy vegetables) and berries, but not other fruits, may reduce the risk of Parkinsonism and slow its progression in older adults. Puja Agarwal, Rush University Medical Center will present this research on Sunday, June 10, from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. in the Hynes Convention Center, Auditorium (poster 22) (abstract).
Components of edible mushrooms fight inflammation
An analysis of PPEP-1 and PPEP-2 polysaccharides from the edible mushroom Pleurotus eryngii reveals that these complex carbohydrates can inhibit induced inflammatory responses. The new results are the first to demonstrate these anti-inflammatory properties and highlight the potential of PPEP-1 and PPEP-2 as dietary supplements to reduce inflammatory responses. Gaoxing Ma, Nanjing Agricultural University; University of Massachusetts, Amherst; will present this research on Tuesday, June 12, from 11:15-11:30 a.m. in the Hynes Convention Center, Room 309 (abstract).
Coffee could be good for the liver
A study of more than 14,000 people, ages 45 to 64, finds that people who drink three or more cups of coffee a day have a lower risk of liver-related hospitalizations than those who never drink coffee. The new findings provide evidence that coffee drinkers may have a lower risk for liver disease. Emily Hu, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, will present this research on Sunday, June 10, from 1-3 p.m. in the Hynes Convention Center, Auditorium (poster 55) (abstract).
Please note that abstracts presented at Nutrition 2018 were selected by a committee of experts but have not generally undergone a rigorous peer review process such as that required for publication in a scientific journal. As such, the findings presented should be considered preliminary until a peer-reviewed publication is available.
Public Release: 11-Jun-2018
Mangoes helped improve cardiovascular and gut health in women
First human trial to demonstrate the favorable vascular effects of mango consumption
Weber Shandwick Chicago
BOSTON (June 11, 2018) — A new study conducted at the University of California, Davis found that two cups of mangos a day had beneficial effects on systolic blood pressure among healthy postmenopausal women. Mango consumption helped relax blood vessels in as little as two hours after intake. Additionally, some of the participants showed favorable changes in the production of breath methane, an indication of the potential influence on gut fermentation.
“This is the first study to demonstrate positive vascular effects of mango intake in humans,” said lead researcher Robert Hackman, with the UC Davis Department of Nutrition. He presented the findings today at the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting, Nutrition 2018, in Boston. “Our results build on previous animal and cell studies that point to the potential benefits of mangos to promote health.”
Mangos contain a mix of polyphenols, including mangiferin, quercetin, gallotannins, and gallic acid, that have been the focus of previous investigations exploring the potential health-protecting properties of mangos. Li and colleagues believe the concentration of these bioactive compounds in mangos may be responsible for the favorable response.
Methodology and Results
In the study, 24 healthy postmenopausal women consumed 330 grams (2 cups) of mango daily for 14 days. The honey mango (also referred to as Ataulfo) was chosen for the study due to the high concentration of polyphenols in this popular variety.
Following the 14 days of mango consumption, the study participants resumed their normal daily diet but eliminated mango intake for 13 days. Measurements were taken during each visit, including heart rate and blood pressure, blood samples and breath samples, which are increasingly used in nutrition studies to evaluate gut health status.
At the start of the study, blood pressure was not significantly different between the study visits. Yet once mango was consumed, systolic blood pressure was significantly lower two hours after mango intake compared to baseline values. Pulse pressure was also significantly reduced two hours after eating mango.
Systolic blood pressure (the upper number in blood pressure readings) indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats. Pulse pressure is the difference between systolic and diastolic (bottom number) in blood pressure readings. Pulse pressure can be used as an indicator of heart health.
Breath levels of hydrogen and methane were measured, which reflect the amount of these gases that were produced due to microbial fermentation in the intestinal tract. Some study participants produced hydrogen, some produced methane, and others produced both gases or neither of them. Six of the 24 participants produced methane, and of these six, three shown significant reduction after consuming mango, which is considered a favorable outcome for gut health.
The researchers conclude that mangos may be a heart-healthy fruit that may help play a role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Longer-term studies involving other population groups are warranted.
PUBLIC RELEASE: 2-JUL-2018
Supplemental antioxidants may reduce exacerbations in cystic fibrosis
AMERICAN THORACIC SOCIETY
July 2, 2018–An antioxidant-enriched vitamin may decrease respiratory exacerbations in people with cystic fibrosis(CF), according to new research published online in April in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
In “Effects of an Antioxidant-Enriched Multivitamin in Cystic Fibrosis: Randomized, Controlled, Multicenter Trial,” Scott D. Sagel, MD, PhD, a professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Colorado and director of the University of Colorado Cystic Fibrosis Center, and coauthors report a 50 percent reduced risk of time to the first exacerbation requiring antibiotics in those receiving the supplemental antioxidants.
During the 16-week study of 73 patients (36 received supplemental antioxidants), 53 percent of the antioxidant-treated group experienced 28 exacerbations, compared to 68 percent of the control group who experienced 39 exacerbations.
The researchers also found that supplemental antioxidants increased circulating antioxidant concentrations of beta-carotene, coenzyme Q10, gamma-tocopherol (a form of vitamin E) and lutein and transiently decreased inflammation (at 4 weeks, but not 16 weeks) as measured by two blood-based biomarkers of inflammation, calprotectin and myeloperoxidase (MPO).
People with CF typically experience chronic bacterial infections, which lead to inflammation and the release of “vast amounts of reactive oxygen species in the airways,” the authors wrote.
Normally, they added, the body would marshal an antioxidant defense to neutralize this oxidant stress, but CF is characterized by dietary antioxidant deficiencies. This contributes to an oxidant-antioxidant imbalance and more inflammation, which leads to lung damage and a progressive loss of lung function.
“Improving antioxidant status in CF is an important clinical goal and may have a positive effect on health,” Dr. Sagel said. “Oral antioxidant formulations had been tested in CF with mixed results. However, there had not been a well-designed randomized controlled trial of an antioxidant ‘cocktail’ that included multiple antioxidants in a single formulation.”
This phase 2 trial, conducted at 15 CF centers affiliated with the CF Foundation Therapeutics Development Network, enrolled patients who were 10 years and older (average age 22 years), with pancreatic insufficiency, which causes malabsorption of antioxidants. Participants had an FEV1, the measure of how much air can be forcefully exhaled in one second, between 40 and 100 percent of what would be predicted, based on age, gender, height and a range of other characteristics.
Patients in the control group received a multivitamin without antioxidant enrichment. The two groups tolerated their vitamins equally well, and there were no differences in adverse events between the two groups.
The study did not meet its primary endpoint: change in sputum MPO concentration over 16 weeks. The authors chose sputum MPO “rather than another marker of airway inflammation such as neutrophil elastase because MPO generates reactive oxidant species as part of its function in innate host defense mechanisms, and is considered by many a marker of oxidative stress.”
“While the antioxidant supplement did not appear to exert sustained anti-inflammatory effects, we believe its effect on time to first pulmonary exacerbation was significant and clinically meaningful,” Dr. Sagel said, adding that the improvement in antioxidant status alone may justify its use. “Developing safe and effective anti-inflammatory treatments remains a key priority of the CF community.”
This study was funded by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics and by the National Institutes of Health.
Public Release: 5-Jul-2018
Consumption of fast food linked with asthma and other allergic diseases
A new Respirology review and analysis of published studies reveals a link between fast food consumption and an increased likelihood of having asthma, wheeze, and several other allergic diseases such as pollen fever, eczema, and rhino-conjunctivitis.
The analysis included 16 studies. In terms of different types of fast food consumption, hamburger intake was most prominently associated with allergic diseases in a dose-dependent manner, irrespective of consumers’ income.
The authors note that poor quality diet is likely to contribute to the development and progression of asthma and wheeze via multiple mechanisms. “Additional studies are needed to confirm the relationships seen in this analysis, however, and to identify potential causal associations between the consumption of fast food and allergic diseases,” said senior author Dr. Gang Wang, of West China Hospital, Sichuan University.
Public Release: 20-Jun-2018
Possible link found between diabetes and common white pigment
University of Texas at Austin
In a pilot study by a team of researchers at The University of Texas at Austin, crystalline particles of titanium dioxide — the most common white pigment in everyday products ranging from paint to candies — were found in pancreas specimens with Type 2 diabetes, suggesting that exposure to the white pigment is associated with the disease.
Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is not a known constituent of any normal human tissue. Our body normally has plenty of salts and compounds of metallic elements such as sodium, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium, as well as lesser amounts of other metallic elements like cobalt or molybdenum but not of titanium.
The team examined 11 pancreas specimens, eight of which were from donors who had Type 2 diabetes (T2D) and three from donors who did not. Whereas the three non-diabetic pancreatic tissue specimens contained no detectable TiO2 crystals, the crystals were detected in all of the eight T2D pancreatic tissue specimens. The UT Austin researchers found more than 200 million TiO2 crystallites per gram of TiO2 particles in the specimens from T2D donors but not in the three specimens from non-diabetic donors. They published their findings last month in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.
The UT study was led by Adam Heller, professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering, a 2007 recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation and a lifelong champion for diabetes research. Heller was a leading member of the teams that designed FreeStyle, the first painless blood-glucose-monitoring system used by millions of people with diabetes worldwide; and the glucose-sensing technology of the FreeStyle Libre system, developed by Abbott Diabetes Care.
“Our initial findings raise the possibility that Type 2 diabetes could be a chronic crystal-associated inflammatory disease of the pancreas, similar to chronic crystal-caused inflammatory diseases of the lung such as silicosis and asbestosis,” Heller said.
In the mid-20th century, titanium dioxide pigment replaced highly toxic lead-based pigments. It became the most commonly used white pigment in paints and in foods, medications, toothpaste, cosmetics, plastics and paper. As a result, annual production of titanium dioxide has increased by 4 million tons since the 1960s.
According to the World Health Organization, the number of people with diabetes has quadrupled during the past four decades, affecting approximately 425 million people, with T2D comprising the majority of recorded cases. Although obesity and an aging population are still considered major factors leading to a rise in T2D cases worldwide, Heller’s study suggests that increased use of titanium dioxide may also be linked to the rapid rise in the number of people suffering from the disease.
“The increased use of titanium dioxide over the last five decades could be a factor in the Type 2 diabetes epidemic,” Heller said. “The dominant T2D-associated pancreatic particles consist of TiO2 crystals, which are used as a colorant in foods, medications and indoor wall paint, and they are transported to the pancreas in the bloodstream. The study raises the possibility that humanity’s increasing use of TiO2 pigment accounts for part of the global increase in the incidence of T2D.”
Given the wide-reaching implications of his findings, Heller is keen to repeat the study, but this time using a larger sample. “We have already begun a broader study,” he said. “Our work isn’t over yet.”
PUBLIC RELEASE: 20-JUN-2018
Coconut oil prolongs life in peroxisomal disorders
A team of researchers led by the University of Bonn proves surprising effect on fruit flies
UNIVERSITY OF BONN
“Lorenzo’s Oil” was to help a seriously ill boy suffering from a peroxisomal disorder (adrenoleukodystrophy/ALD). The true story was turned into a film which made the rare disease well known. Scientists from the University of Bonn, the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases and the German Cancer Research Center investigated such peroxisomal diseases on fruit flies. They were able to prove that a coconut oil diet significantly increases the vitality and lifespan of the flies. The results will now be presented in the journal “PLOS Biology“.
The 1992 film drama tells the true story of Lorenzo Odone, who suffered from the rare disease adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), which results in damage to the nervous system. The parents’ desperate search for treatment eventually leads to “Lorenzo’s Oil”. The rare hereditary disease arises from the dysfunction of so-called “peroxisomes”. These are tiny bubbles surrounded by a membrane that are mainly responsible for detoxifying the cells. In addition to harmful hydrogen peroxide, very-long-chain fatty acids in particular are also metabolized there.
If the peroxisomes are damaged or absent, a toxic accumulation of very-long-chain fatty acids occurs. While science has so far primarily focused on these very-long-chain fatty acids as the cause of the disease, a research team around Dr. Margret Bülow at the LIMES Institute at the University of Bonn investigated the importance of medium-chain fatty acids. “These fatty acids are much more frequent than the very long-chain ones,” says Bülow. “Their importance has been underestimated so far.”
The research team used fruit flies as a classical model organism. The flies lacked a gene that encodes an important building block for the peroxisomes, which prevented the detoxification factories from working properly. The disease resembled peroxisome dysfunction in humans: Brain cells in the flies had died, so they could neither fly nor crawl. “What was striking about these animals was that they showed a medium-chain fatty deficiency,” reports lead author Dr. Julia Sellin. “It is precisely these fatty acids that serve as fuel for energy production in the cell power plants – the mitochondria.” It was therefore reasonable to assume that additional feeding with the deficient fatty acids could compensate for the damage.
Flies on a coconut oil diet
The scientists therefore put some of the flies with the missing gene on a diet of coconut oil, which is rich in medium-chain fatty acids. A control group was fed conventionally. It was found that only about 20 percent of the fruit flies larvae raised on standard food developed further into adult specimens. Most of these died within 24 hours, while the normal life expectancy is around 40 to 50 days. In contrast, about 55 percent of the larvae fed with coconut oil produced adult fruit flies that survived for several weeks. “With the diet, the fruit flies suffering from the peroxisome disorder are able to survive, which is not possible on a conventional diet,” summarizes Dr. Christian Wingen, the second lead author.
The damaged fly larvae showed symptoms of hunger stress. In the search for the causes, the team of researchers discovered lipase 3. This is an enzyme that mobilizes fatty acids from the storage fat as fuel when there is a lack of food. Lipase 3 was upregulated to provide more energy. However, in peroxisome diseases the mitochondria are affected, which is why the fatty acids could not be completely processed and accumulated to a toxic amount. Bülow: “This is probably the cause of death of the flies.” Another important role is played by “ceramide synthase Schlank”, which was discovered several years earlier at the LIMES Institute. If the synthase is outside the cell nucleus, lipase 3 is upregulated, which leads to the described damage. The coconut oil diet however dampened the increased activity of lipase 3, thereby reducing cell damage. A team of researchers led by Dr. Reinhard Bauer was recently able to show that Schlank is involved in the regulation of lipase 3.
Can the fruit fly findings be transferred to humans? The researchers also investigated human cell lines derived from patients with peroxisomal biogenesis disease. These too showed that without a coconut oil diet, the mitochondria swell and free fatty acids accumulate in toxic concentrations. “We were able to transfer some aspects that we observed on flies to human cells,” summarizes Bülow. This is an important indication for a possible therapy approach in humans. “But there is still a lot of research to be done.”
PUBLIC RELEASE: 21-JUN-2018
Probiotics can protect the skeletons of older women
UNIVERSITY OF GOTHENBURG
For the first time in the world, researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have demonstrated that probiotics, dietary supplements with health-promoting bacteria, can be used to affect the human skeleton. Among older women who received probiotics, bone loss was halved compared to women who received only a placebo. The research opens the door to a new way to prevent fractures among the elderly.
Brittleness of the bones, or osteoporosis, is characterized by porous and weak bones, which can cause them to break even when subjected to low loads, such as a fall from standing height. The proportion of the population with osteoporosis increases with age, and a majority of women over 80 years of age have the disease.
“Today there are effective medications administered to treat osteoporosis, but because bone fragility is rarely detected before the first fracture, there is a pressing need for preventive treatments,” says Mattias Lorentzon, who is a chief physician and professor of geriatrics at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.
This is the first time that researchers have shown that it is possible to cut age-related bone loss in elderly women in half if they receive health-promoting bacteria, known as probiotics.
Double-blind, randomized study
The study was conducted at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Mölndal, Sweden, and its results of the study are now being published by the Journal of Internal Medicine. Ninety elderly women, 76 years old on average, ingested a powder that contained either health-promoting bacteria or a placebo every day for a whole year. A random method determined which women received the active treatment with the Lactobacillus reuteri 6475 bacteria and which received powder without bacteria. Neither the researchers nor the women knew who received the active powder during the study.
“When we finished the study after a year, we measured the women’s bone loss in their lower legs with a CT scan and compared it with the measurements we made when the study began. The women who received the powder with active bacteria had lost only half as much bone in the skeleton compared with those who received inactive powders,” says Anna Nilsson, a chief physician and associate professor at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg. “Another positive outcome from the study was that the treatment was well tolerated and did not produce more side effects than those experienced by women who received the placebo.”
A paradigm shift
Research has shown that intestinal bacteria affect the skeleton in mice, but this is the first study in which probiotics were used to reduce bone loss in older people. The discovery could have important implications in the future: “Older women are the group in society most at risk of osteoporosis and fractures. The fact that we have been able to show that treatment with probiotics can affect bone loss represents a paradigm shift. Treatment with probiotics can be an effective and safe way to prevent the onset of osteoporosis in many older people in the future,” says Mattias Lorentzon.
Lactobacillus reuteri 6475 is a bacterium believed to have multiple health-promoting properties, and similar bacteria are already used in a variety of supplements on the market. The bacterium is naturally found in the human gastrointestinal tract. Bacteria in the stomach and intestine have received considerable attention in recent years because there is evidence that the composition of our bacterial flora is associated with diseases such as diabetes and obesity. The mechanisms, that is, the ways that the bacteria produce different effects in the body, are not yet clearly understood.
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Study finds significant proportion of older adults are deficient in vitamin B12 and folate
Trinity College Dublin
A new study by researchers from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, has shown for the first time that a substantial number of adults over 50 are at risk of deficiency in vitamin B12 and folate (the natural vitamin linked to the dietary supplement, folic acid).
The researchers found that one in eight adults in Ireland are deficient in vitamin B12; one in seven are deficient in folate; and there are variations in deficiency across different provinces in Ireland, in addition to variations dependent on health, lifestyle and the time of year measured. The findings form part of the largest representative study of its kind conducted among older persons in Ireland and have just been published in the prestigious journal, British Journal of Nutrition.
Both vitamin B12 and folate are essential for nerve function, brain health and the production of red blood cells and DNA. Numerous studies have shown that low nutritional status of folate and B12 are linked to poor long-term health, especially among older people.
In Ireland, fortification of food products is voluntary and some foods (such as ready-to-eat cereals) are enriched with micronutrients such as folic acid, though this is inconsistent between products fortified and over time, resulting in haphazard exposure. There have been repeated calls for an official policy of mandatory fortification of staple foods such as bread, with folic acid, to reduce the occurrence of neural tube defects in babies. Such a policy would also reduce the prevalence of folate deficiency in older adults who are most at risk. Before this can occur, however, comprehensive information is needed on the prevalence and determinates of deficiency.
Our study suggests that the current custom of voluntary food fortification is ineffective in preventing deficiency or low status of these vitamins among older people. The results are of relevance not just for Ireland but for all countries that do not have mandatory fortification.
- One in eight adults over 50 were low to deficient in vitamin B12 while one in seven were low to deficient in folate
- The prevalence of low or deficient folate increased with age, from 14% among those aged 50-60 years to 23% among people over 80 years old. Low folate status was also more common in smokers, the obese, and those who lived alone
- Low or deficient vitamin B12 was more common in smokers (14%), people who lived alone (14.3%) and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds (13%)
- Use of both vitamin B12 and folic acid supplementation was low, with higher rates among women than men but less than 4% overall taking supplements of either vitamin
Commenting on the significance of the research, lead author of the study and Research Fellow at TILDA, Dr Eamon Laird, said:
“This is the largest representative and most comprehensive study of vitamin B12 and folate status in older adults ever conducted in Ireland. There are striking differences in the prevalence of deficiency across different lifestyle factors such as obesity and smoking – both of which are modifiable risk factors. Our findings will provide useful data to help inform public health policy -particularly regarding the proposition of mandatory folic acid and/or vitamin B12 fortification. To place our findings in context, in a country such as the United States where mandatory folic acid fortification occurs, rates of low folate status are around 1.2% in older adults compared with 15% in Ireland.”
Professor Anne Molloy, senior author of the study noted:
“This study shows a surprising level of inadequate folate among older persons, despite many years of voluntary folic acid fortification of certain foods on the Irish market. Concerns relating to excessive folic acid intake, particularly in older people, have been at the heart of current debates regarding the risks of population-wide folic acid fortification. However, in countries such as the US, mandatory folic acid food fortification for the past 20 years has prevented millions of cases of folate deficiency without any proven adverse effects. Irish public health authorities need to act on the facts from studies such as ours.”
Professor Rose Anne Kenny, Principal Investigator of TILDA, said:
“The high rates of B-vitamin deficiency seen in the older adult population are of concern and, given that this can be easily treated with fortification, this has significant policy and practice implications for Government and health services. TILDA has consistently assisted policy makers by providing strong evidence based data on which to make recommendations but also by assisting with information of most vulnerable people and therefore those who should be targeted.”
Public Release: 26-Jun-2018
Substance found in grapes prevents agglomeration of a mutant protein that leads to cancer
Brazilian study shows the action of resveratrol on the inhibition of amyloid aggregates of mutant p53 protein, a mutation found in more than half of malignant tumors
Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia de Biologia Estrutural e Bioimagem (INBEB)
Researchers at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) have made a discovery that may lead to the development of a treatment capable of acting against more than half the cases of breast cancer. Using resveratrol, a bioactive compound found in grapes and red wine, scientists were able for the first time to inhibit the agglomeration of mutant versions of the p53 protein, a structure present in about 60% of tumors, and to prevent migration and proliferation of breast cancer cells.
The potential anti-cancer effects of resveratrol have been known for years, but to date no study has been able to show that the substance can act to reduce tumors caused by the aggregation of the mutant form of tumor suppressor p53. The Brazilians are the first to obtain this result in the laboratory.
Because they are found in more than half of malignant tumors, amyloid aggregates of mutant p53 are considered novel strategic targets in the fight against cancer. In its normal, unmutated version, the protein is responsible for the suppression of tumor cells, and for this reason is often referred to as “guardian of the genome”. A mutant p53, however, can lose that function and gain others, sequestering its normal counterparts and contributing to the formation of amyloid aggregates, structures of difficult degradation and rapid growth. Some p53 mutations are extremely pathogenic, while others are harmless.
The laboratory of Jerson Lima Silva, professor of the Institute of Medical Biochemistry Leopoldo de Meis (IBqM) and the National Center for Structural Biology and Bioimaging (CENABIO) of UFRJ and coordinator of the National Institute of Science and Technology of the same name (INBEB), has been investigating the amyloid aggregation of p53 for two decades. The main goal of this group is to understand the mechanisms that allow aggregates of mutant p53 to contribute to cancer and to find an effective way to prevent it from forming.
“The findings bring scientists closer to the development of a drug capable of acting directly on the amyloid aggregation of the mutant p53”, states Danielly C. Ferraz da Costa, a co-author of the study, from the Institute of Nutrition of UERJ and a member of the INBEB. She began studying the properties of resveratrol for her doctoral thesis, and by 2012 had already investigated the anticancer protection by resveratrol in lung tumor cells.
The researchers applied fluorescence spectroscopy techniques in vitro to test the antitumor potential of resveratrol in aggregations of wild and mutant p53. In addition, they used immunofluorescence co-localization assays to test the action of the substance on breast cancer cells with different p53 mutants (MDA-MB-231 and HCC-70) and normal p53 (MCF-7). Decreased aggregation of mutated p53 was observed in tumors implanted in mice. The group is now studying various molecules derived from resveratrol that can be used in therapy against tumors containing mutated p53.
The paper entitled “Resveratrol prevents p53 aggregation in vitro and in breast cancer cells” is published online in Oncotarget.
Public Release: 28-Jun-2018
Dietary supplement increases muscle force by 50% percent in the Duchenne muscular dystrophy mouse model
Québec City, June 28, 2018?A dietary supplement derived from glucose increases muscle-force production in the Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) mouse model by 50% in ten days, according to a study conducted by researchers from Université Laval’s Faculty of Medicine and Centre hospitalier universitaire (CHU) de Québec Research Centre-Université Laval. The results, which were recently published in the scientific periodical The FASEB Journal, pave the way for a clinical study to test the treatment’s effectiveness on humans.
DMD is a hereditary disease characterized by progressive muscle degeneration. The disease puts affected people in a wheelchair by their teens. It also affects the heart and respiratory muscles, reducing the life expectancy of patients to less than 40 years. DMD affects roughly 1 out of 3,500 boys, making it the most common form of muscular dystrophy. There is no known cure for the disease. A steroid-based treatment can slow down muscle degeneration, but it causes serious side effects.
“People have a lot of hope for gene therapy, but it will still take years of research before we find an effective treatment,” explains lead author Professor Sachiko Sato. “That’s why it’s important to find other treatments to help preserve the muscular strength of patients as long as possible.”
Professor Sato and her collaborators tested N-acetylglucosamine, a glucose derivative used as a dietary supplement, on mice showing the main symptoms of DMD. “It’s a simple sugar whose structure differs from that of glucosamine, which is sold to treat joint problems,” specifies Professor Sato.
After ten days of treatment, researchers found that mice given N-acetylglucosamine had 50% increased muscular strength compared to mice from the control group. “We don’t know yet whether the molecule increases the production of muscular fibre or improves its survival rate, but we found that the mice’s muscular strength was better preserved,” summarized Professor Sato.
Even though the study was conducted on laboratory animals, Professor Sato feels encouraged by the results. “N-acetylglucosamine is an inexpensive product that can be synthesized in a lab or extracted from crustacean shells. It is found in human milk as the sugar with the second highest concentration after lactose,” she explained. “Everything indicates that it is worth testing its effectiveness in improving the quality of life of DMD patients. We now need to conduct clinical trials in order to confirm the substance’s effectiveness on humans and determine the treatment’s duration and dosage,” Professor Sato concluded.