CNO Report # 258
Release Date: 07 OCT 2018
Draft Report Compiled by
In This Issue:
1. Investigators find that bile acids reduce cocaine reward
2. In test with rats, cannabidiol showed sustained effects against depression for 7 days
3. Amazonian fruit prevents obesity in overfed mice
4. How olive oil and sleep could stave off heart attacks and strokes: New study examines plasma protein’s role
5. Antioxidant defender protects against osteoarthritis
6. Is resveratrol an effective add-on to NSAIDS to treat knee osteoarthritis?
7. Household cleaning products may contribute to kids’ overweight by altering their gut microbiota
8. Scientific analysis shows probiotic use is associated with fewer antibiotic prescriptions
9. Dietary fiber reduces brain inflammation during aging
10. Mannose’s unexpected effects on the microbiome and weight gain
11. Weight loss can be boosted fivefold thanks to novel mental imagery technique
12. High gluten diet in pregnancy linked to increased risk of diabetes in children
13. The quality of protein supplements for sportspeople
14. Cocoa: a tasty source of vitamin D?
15. Vitamin B supplements may protect kidney function in children with diabetes
16. Vitamin D supplements may promote weight loss in obese children
17. Drinking more water reduces bladder infections in women
18. More bad news for artificial sweetener users according to Ben-Gurion University researchers
19. A grape constituent protects against cancer
Public Release: 31-Aug-2018
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Bile acids — gut compounds that aid in the digestion of dietary fats — reduce the desire for cocaine, according to a new study by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
The findings, published in the journal PLOS Biology, suggest that targeting bile acid signaling in the brain may be a novel way to treat cocaine abuse.
Vanderbilt investigators Charles (Robb) Flynn, PhD, associate professor of Surgery, and Naji Abumrad, MD, John L. Sawyers Professor of Surgical Sciences, have long studied the metabolic changes associated with bariatric surgery for weight loss. Surgical patients experience dramatic changes in glucose regulation and in taste preferences and food cravings while they are still in the recovery room, Flynn said.
“These surgeries are doing something more than we understand. We wondered if elevated serum bile acids, a hallmark of bariatric surgery, were affecting the reward centers of the brain to blunt the pleasure of eating high-fat foods,” he said.
If the surgery did affect the brain’s reward centers, he added, “how might it impact the rewarding properties of drugs of abuse?”
The most commonly performed bariatric surgery — Roux-en-Y gastric bypass — restricts the size of the stomach and alters the path of food through the digestive tract. It also changes the point where bile acids enter the small intestine, from the usual upper part of the small intestine to a site near the end. The change increases circulating levels of bile acids in the body.
To explore the effects of bariatric surgery and elevated bile acids, Flynn’s group developed a simpler surgical procedure in mice called bile diversion, in which the gall bladder is surgically connected to the end of the small intestine. Bile diversion in an obese mouse produces all of the beneficial effects of bariatric surgery: weight loss, reduced food intake and improved oral glucose tolerance, Flynn said.
With colleague Aurelio Galli, PhD, a former Vanderbilt faculty member who is now at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the investigators found that bile diversion surgery in normal-weight mice reduced cocaine-induced increases in brain dopamine release and reduced cocaine-associated behaviors.
The researchers tested the effects of a synthetic bile acid drug called obeticholic acid (OCA), which is clinically approved to treat the chronic liver disease primary biliary cholangitis. In mice without surgery, OCA administration mimicked the effects of bile diversion surgery in reducing cocaine-associated behaviors. The investigators further demonstrated that the bile acid receptor TGR5 mediates the effects of elevated bile acids and OCA in the nucleus accumbens, a brain region that plays a central role in reward circuitry.
The study is the first to demonstrate a central nervous system role for bile acids in altering reward-related behaviors, and it opens the possibility of treating drug abuse in new ways.
“Will bile acids cure cocaine addiction in humans? We don’t know, but our research certainly suggests that bariatric surgery or consumption of bile acids may have beneficial effects,” Flynn said.
“OCA is already clinically approved, so it might be possible to move quickly to clinical trials of its efficacy in treating addiction.”
Flynn and Galli were awarded a Cutting-Edge Basic Research Award (CEBRA) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to continue their studies of bile acid signaling and brain reward circuitry.
India Reddy, MD, PhD, and Nicholas Smith are co-first authors of the PLOS Biology paper. The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (GM007347, DA038058, DA036940, DC015388, DK105847, DA035263).
Public Release: 30-Aug-2018
First results appeared 24 hours after one single dose of the marijuana component; scientists concluded that CBD activate mechanisms which repair neuronal circuitry in patients’ prefrontal cortex and hippocampus
Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo
Commercial antidepressants typically take two to four weeks to have a significant effect on a depressed patient. They are also inneffective in approximately 40% of the cases. Finding new drugs for depression that are fast-acting and have more lasting effects is the goal of research conducted by Brazilian scientists in São Paulo State in collaboration with Danish colleagues.
Their study found that a single dose of cannabidiol in rats with symptoms of depression was highly effective, eliminating the symptoms on the same day and maintaining the beneficial effects for a week.
The findings reinforce those of prior research showing that cannabidiol, a component of Cannabis sativa, the plant most commonly used to make marijuana, has promising therapeutic potential in the treatment of broad-spectrum depression in preclinical and human models.
The results have been published in an article in the journal Molecular Neurobiology by researchers of the group led by Sâmia Regiane Lourenço Joca, a professor in the University of São Paulo’s Ribeirão Preto School of Pharmaceutical Sciences (FCFRP-USP) in Brazil.
The first author is Amanda Juliana Sales, who has a PhD scholarship from the São Paulo Research Foundation – FAPESP. The research itself was supported by FAPESP via a Thematic Project, by Brazil’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), and by Denmark’s Aarhus University Research Foundation.
FAPESP Thematic Project coordinator Francisco Silveira Guimarães, who is also a professor at the University of São Paulo’s Ribeirão Preto Medical School (FMRP-USP), stresses that cannabidiol produces neither dependence nor psychotropic effects, despite being extracted from marijuana plant. “The main psychoactive component of marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC. Cannabidiol, on the contrary, blocks some of the effects of THC,” he said.
The researchers performed tests using rat and mouse lines selected by cross-breeding to develop symptoms of depression. The tests and behavioral analysis involved a total of 367 animals.
Five tests were performed altogether. “We submitted the animals to situations of stress such as the forced swimming test,” said Joca, who is also a visiting professor at Aarhus University.
Before the test, some of the animals were given an injection of cannabidiol with doses of 7, 10 and 30 mg/kg in saline solution, and the rest, which were the control group, received only saline.
After 30 minutes, the animals were placed for five minutes in cylinders with a height of 25 cm and a diameter of 17 cm, containing 10 cm of water for mice and 30 cm of water for rats.
“The water depth is calculated to force them to swim by preventing them from touching the bottom with their feet or tails. They learn to float after swimming for a short time. They remain practically immobile while floating, merely keeping their heads above water to avoid drowning. This floating behavior, when they stop swimming, is classified as immobility,” said the FAPESP-supported researcher.
“The forced swim test is used to measure the effect of antidepressant drugs because all known antidepressants shorten the duration of immobility and hence lengthen swim time. A reduction in immobility time in this test is interpreted as ‘antidepressant-like’ behavior.”
The researchers found that cannabidiol induced acute and sustained antidepressant-like effects in mice submitted to the forced swim test.
“However, to make sure this result isn’t due to the increase in movement caused by a psychostimulant effect leading the animals to swim more vigorously, for example, we performed a separate test to control for locomotor activity,” Joca explained.
“To do this we used the open-field test, which consists of putting the animal in a novel arena and letting it explore the new environment freely while its locomotor and exploratory activity is recorded. A drug is said to have potential antidepressant effects if it reduces immobility time and increases swim time in the forced swim test without increasing locomotor activity in the open-field test, showing that the effects observed in the forced swim test aren’t secondary to nonspecific alterations in locomotor activity.”
Restoration of neuronal circuitry
The conclusion was that the effects of treatment with cannabidiol were fast-acting and sustained, persisting for up to seven days after a single dose was administered to animals belonging to different models of depression (including a stress model and a genetic susceptibility model).
Seven days after treatment, the researchers observed a rise in the number of synaptic proteins in the prefrontal cortex, which is closely linked to depression in humans. “In light of this finding, we believe cannabidiol rapidly triggers neuroplastic mechanisms that help repair the neuronal circuitry that gets damaged in depression,” Joca said.
“When we studied the mechanisms involved in these effects, we found that treatment with cannabidiol induces a rapid rise in levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, a neurotrophin that plays a key role in neuronal survival and neurogenesis, the formation of new neurons in the brain,” Joca said. “We also observed an increase in synaptogenesis in the prefrontal cortex of these animals.” Synaptogenesis is the formation of synapses between neurons in the central nervous system.
The beneficial action of cannabidiol is not limited to the prefrontal cortex, however. “In a separate study, we showed that the effects of cannabidiol also involve neuroplastic mechanisms in the hippocampus, another structure involved in the neurobiology of depression,” noted the FAPESP-funded researcher.
According to Joca, if studies in humans also find cannabidiol to be beneficial in treating depression, given that cannabidiol is already used in humans to treat other diseases or disorders, “they could result in an important advance in the treatment of depression, potentially helping patients who suffer for weeks, often with a risk of suicide, until the treatment starts working.”
Studies in humans
The researchers are currently investigating other mechanisms involved in the effects of cannabidiol, as well as its efficacy in animal models of resistance to conventional treatment.
“For example, we’re studying whether cannabidiol would also be effective in patients who don’t respond to conventional therapy and whether combining it with antidepressants would improve their symptoms. Indeed, we’ve just published another paper in the journal Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, showing that treatment with cannabidiol facilitates serotonergic neurotransmission in the central nervous system and that combining it with low doses of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant drugs, or SSRIs, such as fluoxetine induces a significant antidepressant effect,” Joca said.
“So there’s a possibility that combining cannabidiol with SSRIs might allow the latter to be used in lower doses, perhaps reducing their adverse side-effects while maintaining the therapeutic effect of higher doses.”
According to the authors, therefore, cannabidiol may not only be a faster-acting antidepressant than conventional drugs but also improve the response to such drugs when taken in combination with them.
“Our evidence suggests these effects occur by inducing neuroplastic alterations in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, which are brain structures involved in the development of depression. Because cannabidiol is used in humans to treat other conditions, we believe it can also be studied in humans for the treatment of depression in the near future,” Joca said.
Public Release: 30-Aug-2018
Quebec City, August 30, 2018–An extract of camu camu–a fruit native to the Amazon–prevents obesity in mice fed a diet rich in sugar and fat, say researchers at Université Laval and the Quebec Heart and Lung Institute Research Centre. The discovery, which was recently published in the scientific journal Gut, suggests that camu camu phytochemicals could play a leading role in the fight against obesity and metabolic disease.
The chemical composition of camu camu is unique in that it contains 20 to 30 times more vitamin C than kiwis and 5 times more polyphenols than blackberries. “We demonstrated the beneficial health effects of polyphenol-rich berries in previous studies,” explains André Marette, a professor at Université Laval’s Faculty of Medicine and principal investigator for the study. “That’s what gave us the idea to test the effects of camu camu on obesity and metabolic disease.”
The researchers fed two groups of mice a diet rich in sugar and fat for eight weeks. Half the mice were given camu camu extract each day. At the end of the experiment, weight gain in camu camu-treated mice was 50% lower than that observed in control mice and was similar to the weight gain of mice consuming a low-sugar, low-fat diet. The researchers believe the anti-obesity effect of camu camu could be explained by an increase in resting metabolism in the mice that received the extract.
The researchers also found that camu camu improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity and reduced the concentration of blood endotoxins and metabolic inflammation. “All these changes were accompanied by a reshaping of the intestinal microbiota, including a blooming of A. muciniphila and a significant reduction in Lactobacillus bacteria,” explains Dr. Marette. Transplantation of intestinal microbiota from the camu camu group to germ-free mice lacking an intestinal microbiota temporarily reproduced similar metabolic effects. “Camu camu thus exerts its positive metabolic effects at least in part through the modulation of the gut microbiota,” concludes the researcher.
André Marette now wants to examine whether camu camu produces the same metabolic effects in humans. The toxicity of the fruit extract should not pose a problem since it is already commercialized to combat fatigue and stress and stimulate the immune system.
In addition to André Marette, the study’s co-authors are Fernando Anhê, Renato Nachbar, Thibault Varin, Jocelyn Trottier, Stéphanie Dudonné, Mélanie Le Barz, Perrine Feutry, Geneviève Pilon, Olivier Barbier, Yves Desjardins, and Denis Roy.
Public Release: 6-Sep-2018
Apolipoprotein A-IV linked with thrombosis in new study
St. Michael’s Hospital
TORONTO, September 6, 2018 – Foods high in unsaturated fats may protect against cardiovascular disease, and new research published today in Nature Communications has uncovered why.
Apolipoprotein A-IV, known as ApoA-IV, is a plasma protein. Levels of ApoA-IV increase after the digestion of foods, particularly foods high in unsaturated fats, such as olive oil. Higher levels of ApoA-IV in the blood have been reported to be associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease.
New research from the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science (KRCBS) of St. Michael’s Hospital demonstrates that ApoA-IV is an inhibitory factor for platelets, which are small blood cells that play a key role in multiple diseases, particularly in bleeding and cardiovascular diseases.
These new findings suggest that ApoA-IV is a blocker of platelet surface glycoproteins GPIIbIIIa (also named integrin αIIβ3). Integrin αIIβ3 is a platelet receptor that is necessary for platelets to clump together in the blood (called platelet aggregation). Platelet aggregation can cause vessel occlusion that blocks blood flow, leading to thrombosis, which is the most common cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide.
“Platelet aggregation can save lives, because it can stop bleeding in damaged vessels,” said Dr. Heyu Ni, Platform Director for Hematology, Cancer and Immunological Diseases at the KRCBS, who is the principal investigator of this study. “But we usually don’t want platelets to block blood flow in the vessels. This is thrombosis, and if vessel occlusion occurs in the heart or brain, it can cause heart attack, stroke or death.”
Platelets bind together with a series of connectors. For one platelet to bond to another, the platelet receptor integrin αIIβ3 first binds to fibrinogen – an abundant protein that bridges platelets in blood – and fibrinogen molecules then bind another integrin αIIβ3 on a second platelet. Then fibrinogen and likely also other proteins allow many platelets to bind one another, leading to platelet aggregation.
Examining both lab models and humans, Dr. Ni, who is also a scientist at Canadian Blood Services Centre for Innovation, and his team have shown that ApoA-IV can link to the integrin αIIβ3 and block fibrinogen binding, decreasing platelet aggregation in a vessel. The ApoA-IV protein can also change its shape to accommodate increased blood flow, and become more effective to protect vessels from complete blockage.
“This is the first study to link ApoA-IV with platelets and thrombosis,” Dr. Ni said. “With this work, we have also explained why higher levels of ApoA-IV can slow down plaque build-up in blood vessels, known as atherosclerosis, because this process is also related to platelet function.”
The researchers also examined ApoA-IV’s interaction with food. After every meal, platelets are stimulated, which makes it easier for them to bond together or bond to white blood cells. ApoA-IV increases in circulating blood almost immediately after meals containing unsaturated fats and decreases platelet hyperactivity and bonding, thus reducing the inflammation after meals and the risk of heart attack and stroke.
The study also found that ApoA-IV has its own circadian rhythm. It is most active overnight and least active in the morning.
“Mother Nature wants us to sleep well,” Dr. Ni said. “So we are protected by this protein while we sleep, and most likely to experience a cardiovascular event after waking up in the morning.”
Dr. Ni and his team are excited about these findings because they show that foods with high unsaturated fats, along with appropriate sleep patterns, create the perfect combination for the protein ApoA-IV to play a positive role in reducing the chances of cardiovascular disease in the form of atherosclerosis, heart attack, or stroke.
This new knowledge has many potential applications, Dr. Ni explained. Future studies will focus on better understanding this protein and how to harness its protective potential to build therapies targeted at cardiovascular disease and other diseases that arise from platelet activation and aggregation.
About St. Michael’s Hospital
St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 29 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.
St. Michael’s Hospital with Providence Healthcare and St. Joseph’s Health Centre now operate under one corporate entity as of August 1, 2017. United, the three organizations serve patients, residents and clients across the full spectrum of care, spanning primary care, secondary community care, tertiary and quaternary care services to post-acute through rehabilitation, palliative care and long-term care, while investing in world-class research and education.
Public Release: 12-Sep-2018
American Association for the Advancement of Science
A protein involved in multiple cellular processes called ANP32A protects cartilage in the joints against degradation by damaging oxidation, preventing the development and progression of osteoarthritis, according to a new study by Frederique Cornelis and colleagues. Their findings suggest that some antioxidant treatments could be useful in preventing further cartilage damage and reducing the severity of osteoarthritis, and potentially other bone and brain disorders. Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder in the world, affecting more than 25% of the global adult population, and the pain and loss of mobility from the disease have made it a leading cause of chronic disability in an increasingly aging and overweight population. The molecular mechanisms behind cartilage degradation are unclear, making it difficult to find treatments to restore joint function and delay or halt disease progression. Cornelis et al. found that ANP32A levels are decreased in osteoarthritis tissue samples from humans and mice, leading them to ask what function the protein might play in normal tissues. Gene expression profiling revealed that ANP32A increases the levels of an enzyme called ATM as part of the response against oxidative stress in joint cartilage cells. Interestingly, doses of the antioxidant N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) in drinking water reduced osteoarthritis symptoms and cartilage damage in mice deficient in ANP32A. The researchers also discovered that ANP32A deficiency was linked to osteopenia (bone loss) and a neurological disease similar to ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) in mice, and that these disorders could also be treated with NAC antioxidant therapy.
Public Release: 17-Sep-2018
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News
New Rochelle, NY, September 17, 2018–In what researchers state is the first pilot clinical trial to assess the effects of resveratrol on pain severity and levels of inflammatory biomarkers in patients with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis, the scientists compared treatment with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) combined with either resveratrol or placebo over 90 days. Pain severity decreased significantly with resveratrol and blood levels of several inflammatory biomarkers were significantly reduced, accorded to the results published in Journal of Medicinal Food, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. Click here to read the full-text article free on the Journal of Medicinal Food website through October 17, 2018.
The article entitled “Resveratrol Supplementation Reduces Pain and Inflammation in Knee Osteoarthritis Patients Treated with Meloxicam: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Study” was coauthored by Saad Abdulrahman Hussain, Al-Rafidain University College (Baghdad, Iraq), Bushra Hassan Marouf, University of Sulaimani (Kurdistan Region, Iraq), and Ziyad Serdar Ali and Runj Simko Ahmmad, Shar Teaching Hospital (Kurdistan Region, Iraq).
Resveratrol, a polyphenol extracted from grape seeds has proven anti-inflammatory properties. The orally administered resveratrol, given as an adjuvant with meloxicam, led to a significant reduction in the total pain score and to significantly lower levels of serum biomarkers of inflammation common in knee osteoarthritis including TNF-α, interleukin IL-1ß, and IL-6.
Public Release: 17-Sep-2018
Canadian Medical Association Journal
Commonly used household cleaners could be making children overweight by altering their gut microbiota, suggests a Canadian study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
The study analyzed the gut flora of 757 infants from the general population at age 3-4 months and weight at ages 1 and 3 years, looking at exposure to disinfectants, detergents and eco-friendly products used in the home.
Researchers from across Canada looked at data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) birth cohort on microbes in infant fecal matter. They used World Health Organization growth charts for body mass index (BMI) scores.
Associations with altered gut flora in babies 3-4 months old were strongest for frequent use of household disinfectants such as multisurface cleaners, which showed lower levels of Haemophilus and Clostridium bacteria but higher levels of Lachnospiraceae. The researchers also observed an increase in Lachnospiraceae bacteria with more frequent cleaning with disinfectants. They did not find the same association with detergents or eco-friendly cleaners. Studies of piglets have found similar changes in the gut microbiome when exposed to aerosol disinfectants.
“We found that infants living in households with disinfectants being used at least weekly were twice as likely to have higher levels of the gut microbes Lachnospiraceae at age 3-4 months; when they were 3 years old, their body mass index was higher than children not exposed to heavy home use of disinfectants as an infant,” said Anita Kozyrskyj, a University of Alberta pediatrics professor, and principal investigator on the SyMBIOTA project, an investigation into how alteration of the infant gut microbiome impacts health.
Babies living in households that used eco-friendly cleaners had different microbiota and were less likely to be overweight as toddlers.
“Those infants growing up in households with heavy use of eco cleaners had much lower levels of the gut microbes Enterobacteriaceae. However, we found no evidence that these gut microbiome changes caused the reduced obesity risk,” she said.
She suggests that the use of eco-friendly products may be linked to healthier overall maternal lifestyles and eating habits, contributing in turn to the healthier gut microbiomes and weight of their infants.
“Antibacterial cleaning products have the capacity to change the environmental microbiome and alter risk for child overweight,” write the authors. “Our study provides novel information regarding the impact of these products on infant gut microbial composition and outcomes of overweight in the same population.”
A related commentary provides perspective on the interesting findings.
“There is biologic plausibility to the finding that early-life exposure to disinfectants may increase risk of childhood obesity through the alterations in bacteria within the Lachnospiraceae family,” write epidemiologists Dr. Noel Mueller and Moira Differding, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a related commentary http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.181134.
They call for further studies “to explore the intriguing possibility that use of household disinfectants might contribute to the complex causes of obesity through microbially mediated mechanisms.”
Dr. Kozyrskyj agrees and points to the need for studies that classify cleaning products by their actual ingredients. “The inability to do this was a limitation of our study.”
Public Release: 14-Sep-2018
Healthy infants and children who take probiotics as a preventative measure receive fewer antibiotic prescriptions
International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics
Global demand exists for new ways to reduce antibiotic use, given the urgent public health threat of antibiotic resistance. A scientific paper published [today] in European Journal of Public Health reports that those who take probiotics as a preventative measure are less likely to receive antibiotic prescriptions.
The systematic review, which was authored by an international group of ten scientists, reviewed studies that administered Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium to healthy people to determine the impact of probiotics on incidence or duration of common infectious diseases. In all studies that also tracked antibiotic use, the study found that healthy infants and children who consumed probiotics rather than a placebo were at least 29% less likely to receive or consume antibiotics. No studies in adults were included because these studies did not track antibiotic prescriptions.
Author Andi Shane MD MPH, Emory University School of Medicine, says, “Taken together, the studies we included in this analysis demonstrated that probiotic supplementation is more effective than placebo for reducing the incidence or duration of certain illnesses: acute respiratory tract infections, acute digestive infections, and acute ear infections. This analysis shows that, in addition to those advantages, probiotic supplementation may reduce the use of antibiotics.”
This reduced antibiotic prescribing may occur because probiotics reduce incidence and duration of infections. If people stay healthy or get healthy sooner, antibiotics may not be prescribed. Alternatively, probiotics may serve as a tool physicians use as a replacement for antibiotics for self-limited illnesses that don’t require antibiotics.
The authors emphasize that follow-up studies are needed in all age groups, investigating the probiotic formulation and dose that may be the most effective.
Previous analyses show a high prevalence of unnecessary or inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions–contributing to the critical public health threat of antimicrobial resistance and inciting hospitals worldwide to implement antibiotic stewardship programs. Furthermore, antibiotics may have implications for children’s long-term health, given the emerging links between increased use of the drugs in childhood and chronic diseases later in life.
“This publication is proof-of-concept that taking probiotics on a regular basis deserves consideration as a way to reduce the over-prescription of antibiotics,” says Prof. Daniel Merenstein MD, Georgetown University School of Medicine. “Given the potential public health risks of widespread antibiotic misuse, innovative strategies for addressing this problem are urgently needed.”
The analysis was initiated by a working group that met at a 2016 meeting of the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP).
Dietary fiber reduces brain inflammation during aging
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
URBANA, Ill. – As mammals age, immune cells in the brain known as microglia become chronically inflamed. In this state, they produce chemicals known to impair cognitive and motor function. That’s one explanation for why memory fades and other brain functions decline during old age. But, according to a new study from the University of Illinois, there may be a remedy to delay the inevitable: dietary fiber.
Dietary fiber promotes the growth of good bacteria in the gut. When these bacteria digest fiber, they produce short-chain-fatty-acids (SCFAs), including butyrate, as byproducts.
“Butyrate is of interest because it has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties on microglia and improve memory in mice when administered pharmacologically,” says Rodney Johnson, professor and head of the Department of Animal Sciences at U of I, and corresponding author on the Frontiers in Immunology study.
Although positive outcomes of sodium butyrate – the drug form – were seen in previous studies, the mechanism wasn’t clear. The new study reveals, in old mice, that butyrate inhibits production of damaging chemicals by inflamed microglia. One of those chemicals is interleukin-1β, which has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease in humans.
Understanding how sodium butyrate works is a step forward, but the researchers were more interested in knowing whether the same effects could be obtained simply by feeding the mice more fiber.
“People are not likely to consume sodium butyrate directly, due to its noxious odor,” Johnson says. “A practical way to get elevated butyrate is to consume a diet high in soluble fiber.”
The concept takes advantage of the fact that gut bacteria convert fiber into butyrate naturally.
“We know that diet has a major influence on the composition and function of microbes in the gut and that diets high in fiber benefit good microbes, while diets high in fat and protein can have a negative influence on microbial composition and function. Diet, through altering gut microbes, is one way in which it affects disease,” says Jeff Woods, professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health at U of I, and co-author on the study.
Butyrate derived from dietary fiber should have the same benefits in the brain as the drug form, but no one had tested it before. The researchers fed low- and high-fiber diets to groups of young and old mice, then measured the levels of butyrate and other SCFAs in the blood, as well as inflammatory chemicals in the intestine.
“The high-fiber diet elevated butyrate and other SCFAs in the blood both for young and old mice. But only the old mice showed intestinal inflammation on the low-fiber diet,” Johnson says. “It’s interesting that young adults didn’t have that inflammatory response on the same diet. It clearly highlights the vulnerability of being old.”
On the other hand, when old mice consumed the high-fiber diet, their intestinal inflammation was reduced dramatically, showing no difference between the age groups. Johnson concludes, “Dietary fiber can really manipulate the inflammatory environment in the gut.”
The next step was looking at signs of inflammation in the brain. The researchers examined about 50 unique genes in microglia and found the high-fiber diet reduced the inflammatory profile in aged animals.
The researchers did not examine the effects of the diets on cognition and behavior or the precise mechanisms in the gut-brain axis, but they plan to tackle that work in the future as part of a new, almost-$2 million grant from the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health.
Although the study was conducted in mice, Johnson is comfortable extending his findings to humans, if only in a general sense. “What you eat matters. We know that older adults consume 40 percent less dietary fiber than is recommended. Not getting enough fiber could have negative consequences for things you don’t even think about, such as connections to brain health and inflammation in general.”
Public Release: 18-Sep-2018
Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute
LA JOLLA, CALIF. – Sept. 18, 2018 – Scientists continue to unravel links between body weight and the gut microbiome. Now, researchers from Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) report an unexpected finding: mice fed a fatty diet and mannose, a sugar, were protected from weight gain, leaner, and more fit–and this effect tracked with changes in the gut microbiome. The study published today in Cell Reports.
“Obesity and related diseases, such as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), are on the rise–and scientists are on the hunt for new treatments, particularly for individuals who are unable to exercise,” says Hudson Freeze, Ph.D., senior author of the paper and director and professor of the Human Genetics Program at SBP. “Better understanding of mannose’s effects on the gut microbiome may lead to new therapies for treating obesity.”
Freeze and his team were studying mannose in the context of a rare disease called a congenital disorder of glycosylation (CDG). People with a specific form of the disease can be treated with mannose. While conducting their research, the scientists observed the anti-obesity effects of mannose feeding.
A closer look revealed the mice were also protected from typical negative effects of a fatty diet. They had less body fat, reduced fat in their liver, stable blood sugar–and even improved fitness. Surprisingly, these benefits were only seen when the mice received mannose early in life–older mice didn’t benefit from mannose.
“The gut microbiome is very dynamic in early life,” says Vandana Sharma, Ph.D., lead author of the paper and staff scientist in Freeze’s laboratory. “Because only young mice that received mannose exhibited leaness, we thought the microbiome might be involved.”
Despite eating the same amount of fatty food, mannose-fed mice absorbed fewer nutrients-and instead excreted them. Further work showed the gut microbial composition mirrored that of lean mice fed a regular diet. When mannose was removed, the mice on the fatty diet regained weight, and their gut microbiome composition shifted to resemble that of the obese mice that ate fatty food but didn’t receive mannose. The scientists also found that the gut microbes of the mannose-fed mice were less efficient at processing carbohydrates–an energy source.
“These findings further confirm the important role of the gut microbiome in metabolism,” says Freeze. “The microbiome partially explains the beneficial effects of mannose, but how exactly it affects the body’s metabolism remains a mystery.”
Public Release: 24-Sep-2018
A new study has shown how overweight people lost an average of five times more weight using Functional Imagery Training (FIT)
University of Plymouth
Overweight people who used a new motivational intervention called Functional Imagery Training (FIT) lost an average of five times more weight than those using talking therapy alone, shows new research published today by the University of Plymouth and Queensland University.
In addition, users of FIT lost 4.3cm more around their waist circumference in six months – and continued to lose weight after the intervention had finished.
Led by Dr Linda Solbrig from the School of Psychology, the research involved 141 participants, who were allocated either to FIT or Motivational Interviewing (MI) – a technique that sees a counsellor support someone to develop, highlight and verbalise their need or motivation for change, and their reasons for wanting to change.
FIT goes one step further than MI, as it makes use of multisensory imagery to explore these changes by teaching clients how to elicit and practice motivational imagery themselves. Everyday behaviours and optional app support are used to cue imagery practice until it becomes a cognitive habit.
Maximum contact time was four hours of individual consultation, and neither group received any additional dietary advice or information.
Dr Solbrig, who completed the work as part of a PhD funded by The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) South West Peninsula, said: “It’s fantastic that people lost significantly more weight on this intervention, as, unlike most studies, it provided no diet/physical activity advice or education. People were completely free in their choices and supported in what they wanted to do, not what a regimen prescribed.”
The study showed how after six months people who used the FIT intervention lost an average of 4.11kg, compared with an average of 0.74kg among the MI group.
After 12 months – six months after the intervention had finished – the FIT group continued to lose weight, with an average of 6.44kg lost compared with 0.67kg in the MI group.
Dr Solbrig continued: “Most people agree that in order to lose weight, you need to eat less and exercise more, but in many cases, people simply aren’t motivated enough to heed this advice – however much they might agree with it. So FIT comes in with the key aim of encouraging someone to come up with their own imagery of what change might look and feel like to them, how it might be achieved and kept up, even when challenges arise.
“We started with taking people through an exercise about a lemon. We asked them to imagine seeing it, touching it, juicing it, drinking the juice and juice accidently squirting in their eye, to emphasise how emotional and tight to our physical sensations imagery is. From there we are able to encourage them to fully imagine and embrace their own goals. Not just ‘imagine how good it would be to lose weight’ but, for example, ‘what would losing weight enable you to do that you can’t do now? What would that look / sound / smell like?’, and encourage them to use all of their senses.
“As well as being delighted by the success of the study in the short term, there are very few studies that document weight loss past the end of treatment, so to see that people continued to lose weight despite not having any support shows the sustainability and effectiveness of this intervention.”
Trisha Bradbury was one of the participants allocated to the FIT study, and she explains: “I lost my mum at 60, and being 59 myself with a variety of health problems, my motivation was to be there for my daughter. I kept thinking about wearing the dress I’d bought for my daughter’s graduation, and on days I really didn’t feel like exercising, kept picturing how I’d feel.
“I’ve gone from 14 stone to 12 stone 2 and have managed to lower the dosage I need for my blood pressure tablets. I’d still like to lose a touch more, but I’m so delighted with the mind-set shift.”
Professor Jackie Andrade, Professor in Psychology at the University of Plymouth, is one of the co-creators of FIT, and she explains: “FIT is based on two decades of research showing that mental imagery is more strongly emotionally charged than other types of thought. It uses imagery to strengthen people’s motivation and confidence to achieve their goals, and teaches people how to do this for themselves, so they can stay motivated even when faced with challenges. We were very excited to see that our intervention achieved exactly what we had hoped for and that it helped our participants achieve their goals and most importantly to maintain them.”
Public Release: 19-Sep-2018
Further studies needed to confirm or rule out findings, and to explore possible underlying mechanism
A high gluten intake by mothers during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of their child developing type 1 diabetes, suggests a study published by The BMJ today.
However, the researchers say that further studies are needed to confirm or rule out these findings before any changes to dietary recommendations could be justified.
Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley and is suggested to affect the development of type 1 diabetes. In animal studies, a gluten free diet during pregnancy almost completely prevented type 1 diabetes in offspring, but no intervention study has been undertaken in pregnant women.
To better understand the nature of this association, researchers led by Julie Antvorskov at the Bartholin Institute in Denmark in collaboration with researchers at Denmark’s Statens Serum Institut, set out to examine whether gluten intake during pregnancy is associated with subsequent risk of type 1 diabetes in children.
They analysed data for 63,529 pregnant women enrolled into the Danish National Birth Cohort between January 1996 and October 2002.
Women reported their diet using a food frequency questionnaire at week 25 of pregnancy and information on type 1 diabetes in their children was obtained through the Danish Registry of Childhood and Adolescent Diabetes.
Average gluten intake was 13 g/day, ranging from less than 7 g/day to more than 20 g/day, and the researchers identified 247 cases of type 1 diabetes (a rate of 0.37%) among the participants’ children.
After taking account of potentially influential factors, such as mother’s age, weight (BMI), total energy intake, and smoking during pregnancy,they found that the child’s risk of type 1 diabetes increased proportionally with the mother’s gluten intake during pregnancy (per 10 g/day increase).
For example, children of women with the highest gluten intake (20 g/day or more) versus those with the lowest gluten intake (less than 7 g/day) had double the risk of developing type 1 diabetes over a mean follow-up period of 15.6 years.
This is an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect. However, the researchers say this was a high quality study with a large sample size, and they were able to adjust for a number of factors that could have affected the results.
The mechanisms that might explain this association are not known, but could include increased inflammation or increased gut permeability (so-called leakiness of the gut), they write. However, more evidence is needed before changes to dietary recommendations could be justified, they conclude.
In a linked editorial, researchers at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland, say further studies are needed “to identify whether the proposed association really is driven by gluten, or by something else in the grains or the diet.”
The authors agree that it is too early to change dietary recommendations on gluten intake in pregnancy, but say doctors, researchers, and the public “should be aware of the possibility that consuming large amounts of gluten might be associated with an increased risk for the child to develop type 1 diabetes, and that further studies are needed to confirm or rule out these findings, and to explore possible underlying mechanisms.”
Public Release: 25-Sep-2018
The experts remind us that it is essential to carry out an individual study before the prescription of any nutritional supplement
University of Seville
Powdered protein supplements are one of the most commonly consumed nutritional supplements, whether by professional sportspeople or amateurs, even by those who use them for aesthetic purposes instead of sporting ones. This study, led by a researcher from the Area of Human Motility and Sporting Performance at the University of Seville, has analysed the quality of these products in function of their source, treatment and storage.
“During the preparation of powdered protein supplements, the thermal treatment involved can reduce the nutritional value of the product, an aspect that, until now, has received little research attention. Lysine, an amino acid involved in this reaction, is transformed into other compounds that are not biologically usable. In addition, according to the thermal treatment received, changes can be produced in the protein structure, which means that these supplements are less digestible for the body. Therefore, it was importance to investigate this matter deeply”, explains the University of Seville teacher Antonio J. Sánchez.
The results indicate that half the supplements analysed contain more than 6% of blocked Lysine, but only 9% had a content of more than 20% of blocked lysine. In addition, the supplements with the highest concentrations of blocked lysine were hydrolysed and peptide serums (12%), while the lowest concentrations were registered by serum and casein isolates. The study also served to prove that the content of carbon hydrates as shown on the label could be an “indirect but useful” indication of the thermal damage done to milk serum supplements.
However, the experts indicate that, a priori, the consumption of protein supplements does not offer any health problems, provided that a product has complied with quality controls, is bought in a specialised and approved establishment and is made using the correct criteria. “There are increasingly more cases in which the consumption of supplements means, unknown to the consumer, the consumption of substances that can have adverse effects on their health. Therefore, nutritional evaluation must be the first step when advising sportspeople on diet strategies or the use of supplements”, the researcher adds.
Nutritional evaluation must always be tailored to the individual and done by a professional who takes into account the person’s detailed medical and nutritional history, evaluation of their diet, anthropometry, and analysis of their body and biochemical composition, before prescribing any supplement.
Real benefit for health and for sporting performance
According to the experts, the consumption of good quality protein supplements, as can be the case with an isolate of milk serum, can produce benefits for both health and sporting performance. There is scientific evidence that backs the idea that they can help to minimise the loss of muscle mass in old people or help those who practise sports in which strength is important to achieve an optimised level of muscle performance, for example.
This study was part of a multidisciplinary project, in which more than 5,000 individuals of different profiles participated: international sportspeople, whole national teams, amateur sportspeople, gym users, etc. “Knowing what use is made of these supplements can help us to understand the legal and educational needs in that regard, and improve the information we give to society”.
This project had the collaboration of various Spanish, European and Latin-American universities.
Public Release: 25-Sep-2018
Many people do not get enough vitamin D. Brittle bones and an increased risk of respiratory diseases can be the result of a vitamin D deficiency. A research group at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the Max Rubner-Institut has now identified a new, previously unknown source of vitamin D2: cocoa and foods containing cocoa have significant amounts of this important nutrient. According to the researchers, cocoa butter and dark chocolate have the highest amount of vitamin D2. They recently published their results in the journal “Food Chemistry“.
Vitamin D is crucial for the human body. It comes in two types: vitamin D2 and D3. Vitamin D3 is produced in the human skin through exposure to the sun. Humans get 90 per cent of their vitamin D requirements this way. The rest is ideally consumed through food, such as fatty fish or chicken eggs. Vitamin D2, which can also be utilised by the human body, is found in fungi. “Many people do not get enough vitamin D. The problem increases in the winter months when sunshine is scarce,” says nutritionist Professor Gabriele Stangl from MLU.
In their latest study, the researchers investigated the vitamin D content of cocoa and products containing cocoa because they suspected that they contained a previously unknown source of the vitamin. Cocoa beans are dried after fermentation. They are placed on mats and exposed to the sun for one to two weeks. The precursors of vitamin D, which presumably originate from harmless fungi, are transformed by the sunlight into vitamin D2. In order to test their theory, the research group analysed various cocoa products and powders using state-of-the-art mass spectrometry.
What they found is that products containing cocoa are indeed a source of vitamin D2, but the amount varies greatly from food to food. While dark chocolate has a relatively high vitamin D2 content, researchers found very little in white chocolate. “This is not surprising as the cocoa content in white chocolate is significantly lower. It confirms our assumption that cocoa is the source of vitamin D2,” explains Stangl.
However, the nutritionist’s findings do not prompt her to recommend consuming large quantities of chocolate: “You would have to eat enormous amounts of chocolate to cover your vitamin D2 requirements. That would be extremely unhealthy because of the high sugar and fat content,” says Stangl.
Instead, the results of the study are important for obtaining accurate data on the average nutrients consumed by the population. National consumption studies determine the population’s food consumption. The Max Rubner-Institut calculates the population’s daily intake of nutrients by combining this data with data from the extensive German Nutrient Data Base (Bundeslebensmittelschlüssel). If a source of vitamin D is left out of this database, the figures wind up being inaccurate. This is why the researchers recommend regularly revising the food and nutrient databases.
The research group at MLU is also using their recent findings in a follow-up project: “Cocoa is an exciting raw food material because it contains additional secondary plant substances that, for example, benefit the cardiovascular system,” says nutritional specialist Stangl. As part of the nutriCARD Competence Cluster funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, her team is investigating whether it is possible to produce sugar-free foods containing cocoa, such as pasta, and whether these can raise vitamin D2 levels in humans.
Public Release: 28-Sep-2018
European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology
Vitamin B supplements have a protective effect on kidney function in children and adolescents with type-1 diabetes, according to research presented today at the 57th Annual European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology Meeting. These findings indicate that simple supplementation of vitamin B complex may protect against the development and progression of kidney disease in children with diabetes, which could promote improved health and quality of life in adulthood.
Type-1 diabetes is a life-long disease in which the body does not make enough insulin to regulate blood glucose levels. The condition is usually diagnosed in childhood and can lead to serious and debilitating complications, including diabetic kidney disease. This common complication develops over many years, but has no symptoms in the early stages, so if undetected can necessitate long-term, intensive or expensive treatments, and lead to earlier death in adulthood. Vitamin B deficiency is associated with an increased risk of kidney damage and is often observed in children and adults with type-1 diabetes. However, whether supplements can improve blood glucose regulation or kidney function in vitamin B deficient type-1 diabetic children had not yet been fully investigated.
In this study by Prof Nancy Samir Elbarbary and colleagues at Ain Shams University in Cairo, 80 vitamin B12-deficient, type-1 diabetics, aged 12-18 years, with early signs of diabetic kidney disease were given either vitamin B supplements or no treatment, over a 12-week period. After 12 weeks, the children given vitamin B supplements showed significant changes in several blood markers that overall indicated improvements in their blood glucose regulation and kidney function.
Prof Elbarbary states, “After 12 weeks of vitamin B complex supplementation in children and adolescents with diabetic kidney disease, we detected lower levels of markers that indicate poor kidney function, suggesting that it had a protective effect and could slow progression of the disease.”
Prof Elbarbary, comments, “Although the best strategy for treating diabetic kidney disease is prevention, for example through better blood glucose control and maintenance of healthy blood pressure, a normal lipid profile and a healthy body weight, the long-term duration of diabetes still increases the risk of developing kidney disease. So, these findings suggest vitamin B supplementation, in addition to traditional angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor therapy may be a simple, safe and cost-effective strategy for early protection of kidney function, which may improve the long-term quality of life for type-1 diabetes patients.”
Although Prof Elbarbary also cautions, “This was a relatively small study and these findings still need to be confirmed in larger, multicentre randomised trials to verify the role of vitamin B complex supplementation in treating early diabetic kidney disease over longer periods of time, but these early results are a promising start.”
Public Release: 27-Sep-2018
European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology
Vitamin D supplements may promote weight loss and reduce risk factors for future heart and metabolic disease in overweight and obese children, according to research presented today at the 57th Annual European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology Meeting. These findings indicate that simple vitamin D supplementation may be part of an effective strategy to tackle childhood obesity and reduce the risk of serious health problems, such as heart disease, in adulthood.
Obesity in childhood and adolescence represents a major health problem worldwide, which leads to the development of expensive, serious and debilitating complications, including heart disease and diabetes, in later life. Although vitamin D deficiency is typically associated with impaired bone health, in recent years it has been increasingly linked with increased body fat accumulation and obesity, with the precise nature of this relationship currently under intense investigation by researchers. However, the effect of vitamin D supplementation on the weight and health of obese children and adolescents had not yet been investigated.
In this study, Dr. Christos Giannios, Professor Evangelia Charmandari and colleagues at the University of Athens Medical School and the ‘Aghia Sophia’ Children’s Hospital in Athens, assessed 232 obese children and adolescents over 12 months, with 117 randomly assigned to receive vitamin D supplementation, in accordance with the Endocrine Society’s guidelines on treatment and prevention of deficiency. Levels of vitamin D, body fat, and blood markers of liver function and heart health were assessed at the start of the study and 12 months later. The study reported that children given vitamin D supplements had significantly lower body mass index, body fat and improved cholesterol levels after 12 months of supplementation.
“These findings suggest that simple vitamin D supplementation may reduce the risk of overweight and obese children developing serious heart and metabolic complications in later life,” says lead researcher Prof Charmandari.
The team now plan to investigate the effects of vitamin D supplementation on the health of obese children and adolescents that already have unhealthy conditions, such as high blood pressure, high blood glucose and high cholesterol, all of which increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Prof Charmandari cautions, “Although these initial findings indicate that vitamin D could be used in the treatment of obesity, there remains a lack of evidence on the safety and long-term effects of supplementation, particularly if there is no vitamin D deficiency. However, if your child is overweight or obese I recommend that you consult your primary care physician for advice, and consider having their vitamin D levels tested.”
Public Release: 1-Oct-2018
UT Southwestern Medical Center
In the controlled trial, women who drank an additional 1.5 liters of water daily experienced 48 percent fewer repeat bladder infections than those who drank their usual volume of fluids, said senior author Dr. Yair Lotan, Professor of Urology and with the Simmons Cancer Center at UT Southwestern. The participants self-reported their usual volume as less than 1.5 liters of fluid daily, which is about six 8-ounce glasses.
“That’s a significant difference,” said Dr. Lotan, Chief of Urologic Oncology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “These findings are important because more than half of all women report having bladder infections, which are one of the most common infections in women.”
More than a quarter of women experience a secondary infection within six months of an initial infection and 44 to 77 percent will have a recurrence within a year, said Dr. Lotan, holder of the Helen J. and Robert S. Strauss Professorship in Urology at UT Southwestern and Medical Director of the Urology Clinic at Parkland Health & Hospital System.
Physicians suspect more fluids help to reduce bacteria and limit the ability of bacteria to attach to the bladder.
Symptoms for acute uncomplicated cystitis, a type of urinary tract infection (UTI), include painful or difficulty in urination, a feeling of a full bladder, an urgency or frequency of urination, tenderness in the lower abdominal area, and possibly blood in the urine.
Because these infections are typically treated with antibiotics, the increased fluid could help reduce use of antibiotics and thereby help control antibiotic resistance, the researchers said.
The findings appear in JAMA Internal Medicine. Among the highlights over the 12-month study period:
- 93 percent of women in the Water Group had two or fewer episodes of cystitis compared with 88 percent of women in the Control Group who had three or more episodes.
- The number of cystitis episodes was about half in the Water Group compared with the Control Group.
- Overall, there were 327 cystitis episodes: 111 in the Water Group and 216 in the Control Group.
- The estimated mean annual number of antimicrobial regimens used to treat cystitis episodes was 1.9 in the Water Group compared with 3.6 in the Control Group.
- The mean number of antimicrobial regimens used to treat cystitis episodes was 1.8 in the Water Group compared with 3.5 in the Control Group.
- The mean time interval between cystitis events was 142.9 days in the Water Group compared with 85.2 days in the Control Group.
- The median time to the first cystitis episode was 148 days in the Water Group compared with 93.5 days in the Control Group.
Dr. Lotan, a member of UT Southwestern’s Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, uses minimally invasive, robotic, and open surgical techniques to treat bladder, prostate, kidney, ureteral, and testicular cancer. He is nationally recognized for his research on urine markers in bladder cancer and molecular markers in other urologic cancers and was the first in North Texas to perform a robotic cystectomy, or removal of the bladder. UT Southwestern’s Urology Department developed the Snodgrass repair, a surgical procedure used around the world for hypospadias, a congenital condition in which the opening of the urethra develops abnormally; conducted the first large bladder cancer screening study in the U.S.; and was among the first in the world to offer continent urinary diversion for bladder cancer patients.
Public Release: 1-Oct-2018
New study demonstrates artificial sweeteners have toxic effects on gut microbes
American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
NEW YORK…October 1, 2018 — FDA-approved artificial sweeteners and sport supplements were found to be toxic to digestive gut microbes, according to a new paper published in Molecules by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
The collaborative study indicated relative toxicity of six artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, neotame, advantame, and acesulfame potassium-k) and 10 sport supplements containing these artificial sweeteners. The bacteria found in the digestive system became toxic when exposed to concentrations of only one mg./ml. of the artificial sweeteners.
“We modified bioluminescent E. coli bacteria, which luminesce when they detect toxicants and act as a sensing model representative of the complex microbial system,” says Prof. Ariel Kushmaro, John A. Ungar Chair in Biotechnology in the Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering, and member of the Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology and the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev. “This is further evidence that consumption of artificial sweeteners adversely affects gut microbial activity which can cause a wide range of health issues.”
Artificial sweeteners are used in countless food products and soft drinks with reduced sugar content. Many people consume this added ingredient without their knowledge. Moreover, artificial sweeteners have been identified as emerging environmental pollutants, and can be found in drinking and surface water, and groundwater aquifers.
“The results of this study might help in understanding the relative toxicity of artificial sweeteners and the potential of negative effects on the gut microbial community as well as the environment.
Furthermore, the tested bioluminescent bacterial panel can potentially be used for detecting artificial sweeteners in the environment,” says Prof. Kushmaro.
Public Release: 3-Oct-2018
Scientists at UNIGE discovered that a molecule found in grape skin and seeds can protect against lung cancer when administered by the nasal route.
Université de Genève
Lung cancer is the deadliest form of cancer in the world, and 80% of death are related to smoking. In addition to tobacco control, effective chemoprevention strategies are therefore needed. A team of scientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, studied a well-known natural product, resveratrol, which is found in grapes and in red wine. While its chemopreventive properties against cancers affecting the digestive tract have been documented by previous studies, resveratrol has so far shown no effect on lung cancers. Thanks to nasal administration, the UNIGE team obtained very promising results in a study conducted in mice and described in the journal Scientific Reports.
«We tried to prevent lung cancer induced by a carcinogen found in cigarette smoke by using resveratrol, an already well-documented molecule, in a mouse model,» explains Muriel Cuendet, Associate Professor in the School of pharmaceutical sciences of the UNIGE Faculty of Science. This 26 week long study contained four groups of mice. The first one, the control, received neither carcinogen nor resveratrol treatment. The second received only the carcinogen, the third received both the carcinogen and the treatment, and the fourth received only the treatment. «We observed a 45% decrease in tumor load per mouse in the treated mice. They developed fewer tumors and of smaller size than untreated mice,» says Muriel Cuendet. When comparing the two groups that were not exposed to carcinogen, 63% of the mice treated did not develop cancer, compared to only 12.5% of the untreated mice. «Resveratrol could therefore play a preventive role against lung cancer,» she continues.
This formulation is applicable to humans
However, resveratrol does not seem suitable for preventing lung cancer: when ingested, it is metabolized and eliminated within minutes, and therefore does not have time to reach the lungs. «This is why our challenge was to find a formulation in which resveratrol could be solubilized in large quantities, even though it is poorly soluble in water, in order to allow nasal administration. This formulation, applicable to humans, allows the compound to reach the lungs,» explains Aymeric Monteillier, a scientist in the School of pharmaceutical sciences of the UNIGE Faculty of Science, and the first author of the study. The resveratrol concentration obtained in the lungs after nasal administration of the formulation was 22 times higher than when taken orally. The chemoprevention mechanism is probably related to apoptosis, a process by which cells program their own death and from which cancer cells escape. The UNIGE research team will now focus on finding a biomarker that could contribute to the selection of people eligible for preventive treatment with resveratrol.
Towards a preventive treatment?
Resveratrol is an already well-known molecule, which is found in food supplements, meaning that no further toxicological study would be needed prior to commercialisation as a preventive treatment. «This discovery is unfortunately of little economic interest to pharmaceutical groups. The molecule is indeed simple and non-patentable and cancer prevention studies require a follow-up over many years,» regrets Muriel Cuendet, without excluding the development of preventive treatment in humans.