CNO REPORT #270_ 06 06 2020

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This Report is for Staff Training Purpose only and is not intended to treat or cure disease

In this issue:

 

  1. WHO-recommended disinfectants are effective against novel coronavirus
  2. COVID-19: Exercise may protect against deadly complication
  3. How probiotic Bifidobacteria could help celiac disease patients
  4. Dietary supplements an important weapon for fighting off COVID-19
  5. CBD shows promise for fighting aggressive brain cancer
  6. Aromatherapy may reduce nurses' stress, WVU researcher suggests
  7. Plant extract combo may relieve hangover symptoms
  8. Link identified between dietary selenium and outcome of COVID-19 disease
  9. Study shows biocell collagen ingestion reduced signs of UVB-induced photoaging
  10. Vitamin D linked to low virus death rate – Study
  11. Researchers find certain foods common in diets of US adults with inflammatory bowel disease
  12. Antioxidant reverses damage to fertility caused by exposure to bisphenol A
  13. Fighting autoimmunity and cancer: The nutritional key
  14. Green tea may help with weight loss efforts
  15. Non-caloric sweetener reduces signs of fatty liver disease in preclinical research study
  16. Potato power: Spuds serve high quality protein that's good for women's muscle
  17. More berries, apples and tea may have protective benefits against Alzheimer's
  18. Change of direction in immune defense: Frankincense reprograms inflammatory enzyme
  19. A combo of fasting plus vitamin C is effective for hard-to-treat cancers, study shows
  20. Vitamin B3 revitalizes energy metabolism in muscle disease
  21. Coffee linked to lower body fat in women
  22. Adding a blend of spices to a meal may help lower inflammation
  23. Social isolation increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and death from all causes
  24. Legal Cannabis hemp oil effectively treats chronic neuropathic pain
  25. Ketogenic diets alter gut microbiome in humans, mice
  26. Exposure to 'good bacteria' during pregnancy buffers risk of autism-like syndrome
  27. Beyond the garnish: Will a new type of produce get the microgreen light?
  28. Probiotics with top-performing Lactobacillus strains may improve vaginal health
  29. Extra choline may help pregnant women decrease negative effects of COVID-19 on their newborns

 

NEWS RELEASE 16-APR-2020

WHO-recommended disinfectants are effective against novel coronavirus

The formulations can be prepared quickly and easily by pharmacies and help alleviate the current shortage of disinfectants

When used correctly, both alcohol-based hand disinfectants recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) are effective against the novel coronavirus Sars-Cov-2, as confirmed by an international research team headed by Professor Stephanie Pfänder from the Department of Molecular and Medical Virology at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB). The journal Emerging Infectious Diseases published the relevant article in its online edition on 13 April 2020.

30 seconds for disinfection

The researchers exposed Sars-Cov-2 viruses for 30 seconds to the WHO-recommended disinfectant formulations. "This time frame was chosen based on recommendations for hand disinfectants," says Stephanie Pfänder.

Subsequently, the team tested the viruses in cell culture assays and analysed how many viruses remained infectious. "We showed that both WHO-recommended formulations sufficiently inactivate the virus after 30 seconds," as Stephanie Pfänder sums up the results. Plus, this does not merely apply to the WHO solutions; rather, their main components, the alcohols ethanol and isopropanol, also showed adequate inactivation of the virus.

WHO-recommended formulations

The disinfectant I recommended by the WHO consists of 80 volume percent ethanol, 1.45 volume percent glycerine and 0.125 volume percent hydrogen peroxide. Disinfectant II consists of 75 volume percent isopropanol, 1.45 volume percent glycerine and 0.125 volume percent hydrogen peroxide.

German Pharmacies allowed to sell WHO-II formulation

Following the amendments to the German Drug Law by the German government on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, that will remain in effect for six months, the formulation WHO II, which is based on isopropanol, has been approved for this period. As a result, pharmacies are permitted to produce and sell this formulation in order to alleviate the current shortage of disinfectants.

NEWS RELEASE 15-APR-2020

COVID-19: Exercise may protect against deadly complication

May prevent or reduce severity of acute respiratory distress syndrome

Regular exercise may reduce the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome, a major cause of death in patients with the COVID-19 virus, a top exercise researcher reports. He is urging people to exercise based on his findings, which also suggest a potential treatment approach.

A review by Zhen Yan, PhD, of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, showed that medical research findings "strongly support" the possibility that exercise can prevent or at least reduce the severity of ARDS, which affects between 3% and 17% of all patients with COVID-19. Based on available information, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 20% to 42% of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 will develop ARDS. The range for patients admitted to intensive care is estimated at 67% to 85%.

Research conducted prior to the pandemic suggested that approximately 45 percent of patients who develop severe ARDS will die.

"All you hear now is either social distancing or ventilator, as if all we can do is either avoiding exposure or relying on a ventilator to survive if we get infected," Yan said. "The flip side of the story is that approximately 80% of confirmed COVID-19 patients have mild symptoms with no need of respiratory support. The question is why. Our findings about an endogenous antioxidant enzyme provide important clues and have intrigued us to develop a novel therapeutic for ARDS caused by COVID-19."

Powerful Antioxidant

Yan, the director of the Center for Skeletal Muscle Research at UVA's Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center, compiled an in-depth review of existing medical research, including his own, looking at an antioxidant known as "extracellular superoxide dismutase" (EcSOD). This potent antioxidant hunts down harmful free radicals, protecting our tissues and helping to prevent disease. Our muscles naturally make EcSOD, secreting it into the circulation to allow binding to other vital organs, but its production is enhanced by cardiovascular exercise.

A decrease in the antioxidant is seen in several diseases, including acute lung disease, ischemic heart disease and kidney failure, Yan's review shows. Lab research in mice suggests that blocking its production worsens heart problems, while increasing it has a beneficial effect. A decrease in EcSOD is also associated with chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis.

Research suggests that even a single session of exercise increases production of the antioxidant, prompting Yan to urge people to find ways to exercise even while maintaining social distancing. "We cannot live in isolation forever," he said. "Regular exercise has far more health benefits than we know. The protection against this severe respiratory disease condition is just one of the many examples."

Potential Treatments

Yan's review also suggests EcSOD as a potential treatment for ARDS and many other health conditions. Gene therapy, for example, might one day be used to increase production of the antioxidant so that its protective presence in the lungs is enhanced in patients battling COVID-19.

Research has also shown that lab rats with chronic kidney disease had less kidney damage when treated with human EcSOD. The antioxidant is already being proposed as a potential therapeutic for diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes that can lead to blindness.

Further, EcSOD also may prove beneficial against multi-organ dysfunction syndrome, in which multiple organs begin to fail. Efforts to treat the condition with general antioxidants have been unsuccessful, but Yan suggests that understanding EcSOD's workings may let doctors use it in a more targeted - and hopefully more effective - fashion.

"We often say that exercise is medicine. EcSOD set a perfect example that we can learn from the biological process of exercise to advance medicine," Yan said. "While we strive to learn more about the mysteries about the superb benefits of regular exercise, we do not have to wait until we know everything."

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Findings Published

Yan, of UVA's Departments of Medicine, Pharmacology and Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics, conducted his review in collaboration with Hannah R. Spaulding, a postdoctoral researcher at UVA. They have published their review in the scientific journal Redox Biology.

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, grants R01-GM109473 and T32 HL007284-43.

To keep up with the latest medical research news from UVA, subscribe to the Making of Medicine blog at http://makingofmedicine.virginia.edu.

NEWS RELEASE 15-APR-2020

How probiotic Bifidobacteria could help celiac disease patients

AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY

Gluten is enemy No. 1 for those with celiac disease, and it's hard to avoid. Episodes of this chronic autoimmune illness can be triggered by ingesting gluten, a key protein in wheat and some other grains. Researchers have been exploring how gut bacteria, especially Bifidobacteria, could be used as a treatment. Now, scientists publishing the results of laboratory experiments in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry report how specific types of Bifidobacteria work.

Humans have many types of bacteria living in their digestive systems, but those with celiac disease have altered levels of "beneficial" and "harmful" gut bacteria. And even if they stick to a strict gluten-free diet, celiac disease patients typically cannot reestablish an ideal gut microbiome on their own. In particular, the levels of bacteria in the Bifidobacteria family are lower in those with the condition than in healthy individuals. These bacteria can chop up gluten proteins into smaller fragments that are not as triggering or damaging in patients, which has led researchers to try using the microbes as a probiotic to treat gastrointestinal diseases. So Edson Rodrigues-Filho, Natália E. C. de Almeida and colleagues set out to see exactly how various Bifidobacteria strains break down gluten peptides and what effect these smaller gluten-derived peptides would have on the immune response.

The researchers extracted gluten proteins from wheat flour and cultivated four strains of the Bifidobacteria family, both separately and in one large group. In an artificial intestinal environment, B. longum chopped up gluten proteins into the most fragments, compared to the other strains and the mixture of all four strains. From there, the team analyzed the cytotoxic and inflammatory responses to the various peptides, and found that those from the B. longum strain caused the least harm to intestinal cells in petri dishes. These results mark the first identification of specific gluten-derived peptides generated directly from intact gluten proteins by Bifidobacteria activity and the immunological responses to them by human cells, paving the way for new treatments and better patient outcomes, say the researchers. 

NEWS RELEASE 15-APR-2020

Network pharmacology analysis on Zhichan powder in the treatment of Parkinson's disease

BENTHAM SCIENCE PUBLISHERS

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a debilitating neurodegenerative disorder which is characterized by the degradation and subsequent loss in activity of the motor nerve system in the body. The disease is incurable and patients also tend exhibit non motor function disabilities as the disease progresses. Current treatment modalities often focus on improving the symptoms of PD after its onset.

Zhichan is a Chinese herb which has been used for its medicinal properties to treat patients suffering from PD. Zhichan's beneficial effects have been attributed to its ability to regulate the expression of monoamine oxidase B and tyrosine hydroxylase in the substantia nigra of PD model rats has been documented. Dr. Jiajun Chen, at the Department of Neurology, China-Japan Union Hospital of Jilin University, Jilin, is at the forefront of research on Zhichan. Dr Chen's team has recently conducted a systematic analysis of the effects of Zhichan powder for PD treatment. To achieve this, the team used the Traditional Chinese Medicine Systems Pharmacology database to screen for active compounds against PD, and established a medicine-target-disease network model with computational network pharmacology.

"We identified 18 major active components in Zhichan powder through the screening method," says Dr. Chen. He believes that this is strong evidence for a connection between chemical components of this Traditional Chinese Medicine and Parkinson's disease-related targets.

The medicine-target-disease system of Zhichan powder established by the network pharmacology method permitted the researchers to visualize clusters and differences among chemical components in this specific herb, as well as the complex mechanism of molecular activities among those effective components, relevant targets, pathways, and PD. "Our results provide a new perspective and method for revealing the mechanism of action of Traditional Chinese Medicine prescriptions," Dr. Chen notes.

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The team has published the screening results of bioactive compounds from Zhichan powder in Combinatorial Chemistry & High Throughput Screening.

Keywords: Parkinson's disease, network pharmacology, traditional chinese medicine, Zhichan powder, data mining, mechanism.

For further details, please visit: http://www.eurekaselect.com/node/178023

NEWS RELEASE 15-APR-2020

Probiotic intervention in ameliorating the altered CNS functions in neurological disorders

The review article by Dr. Sandeep Kaur and Dr. Vandana Sharma is published in The Open Microbiology Journal, Volume 14, 2020

BENTHAM SCIENCE PUBLISHERS

As per the WHO report, one in every four people are affected by a mental or neurological disorder at some point in their lives making mental disorders among the leading cause of ill-health and disability worldwide. In the present era of socioeconomic competition and related stress, there has been a significant rise in the incidence of neurological and psychiatric ailments especially depression, bipolar disorder, acute anxiety and panic attacks. Many of these conditions are actually never talked about openly as people (affected directly or indirectly) shy away or feel embarrassed, causing the worsening of the conditions of a directly affected person in the absence of proper and early diagnosis and treatment.

With this scenario, the need to investigate newer and safer intervention therapies with prophylactic and/or therapeutic effects is well understood. Recently, the role of gut microbiota and its cross-talk with the human brain in modulating Central Nervous System (CNS) physiology and its optimal working has been highlighted. This review article, presented by Sharma and Kaur (Mehr Chand Mahajan DAV College for Women, India), focuses on the role and effect of regular intake of probiotic bacteria (through external administration of probiotic rich foods, drinks, capsules etc.) that help to strengthen our overall gut health. The review gives a comprehensive insight into the potential of regular intake of these good bacteria in a fixed dose to strengthen our gut microflora thus improving neurologic manifestations or decreasing the incidence and severity of neurological and psychiatric disorders. It also delineates the underlying mechanisms involved at the molecular and biochemical level through which the probiotic bacteria work in ameliorating the altered CNS functions under diseased neurological and psychiatric disorders (Anxiety, Major Depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder, cognitive impairments etc). The potential of probiotics as an important dietary modification as well as a useful intervention therapy with preventive and therapeutic value holds strong and should be an integral part of other treatment protocols recommended for the target population by the physician.

NEWS RELEASE 23-APR-2020

Dietary supplements an important weapon for fighting off COVID-19

OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Supplements containing vitamins C and D and other micronutrients, sometimes in amounts exceeding the federally recommended levels, are a safe, effective and low-cost means of helping your immune system fight off COVID-19 and other acute respiratory tract diseases, an Oregon State University researcher says.

Findings were published today in the journal Nutrients.

Adrian Gombart of OSU's Linus Pauling Institute and collaborators at the University of Southampton (United Kingdom), the University of Otago (New Zealand) and University Medical Center (The Netherlands) say public health officials should issue a clear set of nutritional recommendations to complement messages about the role of hand washing and vaccinations in preventing the spread of infections.

"Around the world, acute respiratory tract infections kill more than 2.5 million people every year," said Gombart, professor of biochemistry and biophysics in the OSU College of Science and a principal investigator at the Linus Pauling Institute. "Meanwhile, there's a wealth of data that shows the role that good nutrition plays in supporting the immune system. As a society we need to be doing a better job of getting that message across along with the other important, more common messages."

Specific vitamins, minerals and fatty acids have key jobs to play in helping your immune system, he says. In particular vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish, docosahexaenoic acid, also known as DHA, are critical for immune function.

"The roles that vitamins C and D play in immunity are particularly well known," he said. "Vitamin C has roles in several aspects of immunity, including the growth and function of immune cells and antibody production. Vitamin D receptors on immune cells also affect their function. This means that vitamin D profoundly influences your response to infections.

"The problem is that people simply aren't eating enough of these nutrients. This could destroy your resistance to infections. Consequently, we will see an increase in disease and all of the extra burdens that go along with that increase."

That's why the researchers are urging not only a daily multivitamin, but doses of 200 milligrams or more of vitamin C (higher than the suggested federal guidelines of 75 milligrams for men and 50 for women) and 2,000 international units of vitamin D, rather than the 400 to 800 recommended depending on age.

The stakes are huge, Gombart notes. Every year, influenza alone hospitalizes millions and kills several hundred thousand worldwide.

"A number of standard public health practices have been developed to help limit the spread and impact of respiratory viruses: regular hand washing, avoiding those showing symptoms of infection, and covering coughs," Gombart said. "And for certain viruses like influenza, there are annual vaccination campaigns."

There is no doubt that vaccines, when available, can be effective, but they're not foolproof, he says.

Gombart emphasizes that current public health practices - stressing social distancing, hygiene and vaccinations - are important and effective but in need of complementary strategies. A nutritional focus on the immune system could help minimize the impact of many kinds of infections.

"The present situation with COVID-19 and the number of people dying from other respiratory infections make it clear that we are not doing enough," he said. "We strongly encourage public health officials to include nutritional strategies in their arsenal."

 

NEWS RELEASE 27-APR-2020

CBD shows promise for fighting aggressive brain cancer

Study shows that CBD isolate and extract can slow growth and kill cancer cells

Bethesda, MD - Findings from a new study examining human and canine brain cancer cells suggest that cannabidiol could be a useful therapy for a difficult-to-treat brain cancer. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-psychoactive chemical compound derived from marijuana.

The study looked at glioblastoma, an often-deadly form of brain cancer that grows and spreads very quickly. Even with major advancements in treatment, survival rates for this cancer have not improved significantly.

"Further research and treatment options are urgently needed for patients afflicted by brain cancer," said Chase Gross, a student in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine/Master of Science program at Colorado State University. "Our work shows that CBD has the potential to provide an effective, synergistic glioblastoma therapy option and that it should continue to be vigorously studied."

Mr. Gross was scheduled to present this research at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics annual meeting in San Diego this month. Though the meeting, to be held in conjunction with the 2020 Experimental Biology conference, was canceled in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the research team's abstract was published in this month's issue of The FASEB Journal.

Mr. Gross and colleagues examined human and canine glioblastoma cells because the cancer shows striking similarities between the two species. They tested the effects of CBD isolate, which contains 100 percent CBD, and CBD extract, which contains small amounts of other natural occurring compounds such as cannabigerol and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

"Our experiments showed that CBD slows cancer cell growth and is toxic to both canine and human glioblastoma cell lines," said Mr. Gross. "Importantly, the differences in anti-cancer affects between CBD isolate and extract appear to be negligible."

The new work revealed that the toxic effects of CBD are mediated through the cell's natural pathway for apoptosis, a form of programmed cell death. The researchers also observed that CBD-induced cell death was characterized by large, swollen intracellular vesicles before the membrane begins to bulge and breakdown. This was true for all the cell lines studied.

The researchers believe that CBD's anti-cancer actions target mitochondria--the cell's energy producing structures--by causing the mitochondria to dysfunction and release harmful reactive oxygen species. Their experiments showed that cells treated with CBD exhibited significant decreases in mitochondrial activity.

"CBD has been zealously studied in cells for its anticancer properties over the last decade," said Mr. Gross. "Our study helps complete the in vitro puzzle, allowing us to move forward in studying CBD's effects on glioblastoma in a clinical setting using live animal models. This could lead to new treatments that would help both people and dogs that have this very serious cancer."

Next, the researchers plan to transition from cell cultures to animal models to test CBD's effects on glioblastoma. If the animal studies go well, the work could progress to clinical trials on dogs that are being treated for naturally occurring glioblastoma at the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

NEWS RELEASE 1-MAY-2020

Aromatherapy may reduce nurses' stress, WVU researcher suggests

WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY

Even under normal circumstances, nursing can be a stressful profession. The COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbates it.

New research led by Marian Reven, a Ph.D. student in the West Virginia University School of Nursing, suggests that aromatherapy may reduce nurses' on-the-job feelings of stress, anxiety, exhaustion and being overwhelmed. Her pilot study results appear in the International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy.

"If we can improve our nurses' emotional reserves and give them more resiliency by using aromatherapy--give them a place to step back, to do some mindfulness--we're doing a good thing at the other end of it by improving patient care," she said.

In an eight-week study, she and her colleagues--WVU researchers Janelle Humphrey-Rowan and Nina Moore--provided aromatherapy patches to 19 nurses who worked at the Infusion Center at the WVU Cancer Institute. The nurses affixed the patches to the badges they wore on lanyards around their necks. The patches were infused with a citrusy blend of essential oils: lemon, orange, mandarin, pink grapefruit, lemongrass, lime and peppermint.

"I sat down with people from the WVU Cancer Institute's Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, and we smelled three different oil blends," said Reven, a registered nurse with WVU Medicine and certified, registered aromatherapist. "When they smelled this blend, everybody's face lit up, and they were immediately happy."

Cutting stress levels in half

The nurse participants wore aromatherapy patches on their ID badges for four-to-eight-hour stretches, on eight separate occasions, while working at the infusion center.

Before and after wearing the patch each time, study participants completed a survey about their moods. They reported how strong certain emotions were, on a scale of one to 10.

The researchers found that participants felt significantly less stressed, anxious, fatigued and overwhelmed after wearing the aromatherapy patches. The levels of anxiety and fatigue they reported fell by 40 percent, and their stress levels and feelings of being overwhelmed decreased by half.

"Oncology nurses face a type of stress that is unique," Reven said. "There are so many cancers that are considered chronic illnesses that oncology infusion center nurses probably see these people for years instead of months. They know them. They get very invested in their lives."

"It's a stressful job," said Laurie Theeke, professor and director of the Ph.D. Program at the School of Nursing and nurse practitioner in the Department of Family Medicine. "You're dealing with life or death or chronic illness every day. And people in all of the health professions are stressed. This doesn't just have application to nursing. It's about workplace stress."

Stressful times, lonely patients

Aromatherapy might improve patients' moods, too, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, when hospital patients can't receive visitors.

"I work nightshift weekends," Reven said. "Last weekend, several of the patients tugged on my heart strings. They missed their family and friends so much during this time of 'no visitors.' I just wanted to be able to do something more for them. An aromatherapy patch with lavender or citrus might have helped.

"As a nurse, I spend a lot of time at the bedside of very ill people," she added. "I often think, 'How would I feel if it was me?' I get very sad sometimes watching the suffering, and yes, I personally use aromatherapy to help with my resiliency."

Loneliness isn't just unpleasant. It's also a predictor of depression, functional decline and mortality.

"People do die of loneliness," Theeke said.

The research results also suggest that aromatherapy might make people outside of healthcare settings feel better as they shelter in place to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. After all, a patch on an employment badge isn't the only way to use essential oils. Someone can plug in an essential oil diffuser or simply add a drop of pure lavender essential oil to a teaspoon of lotion.

Reven emphasized the importance of buying essential oils only from reputable sources.

"There are two professional organizations that can give the layperson credible information about where to find essential oils and how to use them safely: the Alliance of International Aromatherapists and the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy," she said.

But you don't have to buy anything special to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy. Common household items, used during common household tasks, can be enough.

"Baking is aromatherapy," Reven said. "Cutting up an orange is aromatherapy. We need some aromatherapy all the time."

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Citation

Title: West Virginia University oncology nurses don aromatherapy patches: A pilot feasibility study

Link: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340487906_West_Virginia_University_Oncology_Nurses_Don_Aromatherapy_Patches_A_Pilot_Feas

NEWS RELEASE 30-APR-2020

Plant extract combo may relieve hangover symptoms

But popular beliefs around dehydration and mineral depletion linked to too much alcohol may be misguided

BMJ

A plant extract combination of fruits, leaves, and roots may help to relieve hangover symptoms, reveals research published online in BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health.

And received wisdom that it's the dehydrating effects of alcohol and the associated loss of electrolytes--electrically charged minerals in the body that help balance water content and acid levels--which are largely responsible for some of the most common hangover symptoms, may be wrong, the findings indicate.

Various natural remedies have been recommended to ease hangover symptoms, but there is as yet no strong scientific evidence for their use.

In a bid to address that, the researchers assessed the potential of specific plant extracts, vitamins and minerals, and antioxidant compounds to ease a range of recognised physical and psychological symptoms associated with drinking alcohol.

The plant extracts included Barbados cherry (Acerola), prickly pear, ginkgo biloba, willow and ginger root. The vitamins and minerals included magnesium, potassium, sodium bicarbonate, zinc, riboflavin, thiamin and folic acid.

Some 214 healthy 18-65 year olds were randomly split into three groups and given a 7.5 g flavoured, water soluble supplement 45 minutes before, and immediately after they stopped drinking any of beer, white wine, or white wine spritzer.

The first group (69) were given a supplement containing the plant extracts, vitamins and minerals, and additional antioxidant compounds--steviol glycosides and inulin. The second group (76) were given a supplement minus the plant extracts, while the third group (69) were given glucose alone (placebo).

The number and type of drinks consumed was recorded as was how many times they emptied their bladder between 1700 and 2100 hours.

Blood and urine samples and blood pressure measurements were taken before and after the start of this four-hour period, after which the participants were sent home to sober up.

Twelve hours later the same samples and blood pressure measurements were taken, and participants filled in a questionnaire about the type and intensity of perceived hangover symptoms, which were ranked on a zero to 10 scale.

The average amount of alcohol consumed was virtually the same in all three groups: 0.62 ml/minute.

Analysis of all the data showed that symptom intensity varied widely among the participants.

But compared with the glucose only supplement, those taking the full supplement of plant extracts, minerals/vitamins, and antioxidants reported less severe symptoms.

Average headache intensity was 34% less, nausea 42% less, while feelings of indifference fell by an average of 27% and restlessness by 41%. No significant differences or reductions were reported for any of the other symptoms.

Polyphenol and flavonoid compounds in each of the five plant extracts have been associated with curbing the physiological impact of alcohol in previously published experimental studies, explain the researchers. But it's not clear how.

"The underlying mechanisms remain to be unravelled and surely need further investigation," they suggest.

No significant difference in any symptom was reported by those taking the supplement minus the plant extracts, suggesting that plant extracts were largely responsible for the observed changes, say the researchers.

And the absence of any observed impact for vitamins and minerals on their own suggests that alcohol might not affect electrolyte and mineral balance, as is commonly thought, they add.

Their analysis also showed levels of water content in the body weren't significantly associated with the amount of alcohol drunk. "Our results suggest that alcohol-induced increased fluid excretion does not necessarily lead to a significant dehydration process," they write.

"It seems to be clear that hangover symptoms are predominantly caused by alcohol and its metabolites," they conclude.

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Peer reviewed? Yes

Evidence type: Double blind randomised controlled trial

Subjects: People

NEWS RELEASE 29-APR-2020

Link identified between dietary selenium and outcome of COVID-19 disease

UNIVERSITY OF SURREY

An international team of researchers, led by Professor Margaret Rayman at the University of Surrey, has identified a link between the COVID-19 cure rate and regional selenium status in China.

Publishing their findings in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers using data (up to 18 February), investigated possible links between selenium levels in the body and cure or death rates of those with the COVID-19 virus in China.

Selenium is an essential trace element obtained from the diet (i.e. fish, meat and cereals) which has been found to affect the severity of a number of viral diseases in animals and humans. For example selenium status in those with HIV has been shown to be an important factor in the progression of the virus to AIDs and death from the condition. China is known to have populations that have both the lowest and highest selenium status in the world, due to geographical differences in the soil which affects how much of the trace element gets into the food chain.

Margaret Rayman, Professor of Nutritional Medicine at the University of Surrey, said; "Given the history of viral infections associated with selenium deficiency, we wondered whether the appearance of COVID-19 in China could possibly be linked to the belt of selenium deficiency that runs from the north-east to the south-west of the country."

Examining data from provinces and municipalities with more than 200 cases and cities with more than 40 cases, researchers found that areas with high levels of selenium were more likely to recover from the virus. For example, in the city of Enshi in Hubei Province, which has the highest selenium intake in China, the cure rate (percentage of COVID-19 patients declared 'cured') was almost three-times higher than the average for all the other cities in Hubei Province. By contrast, in Heilongjiang Province, where selenium intake is among the lowest in the world, the death rate from COVID-19 was almost five-times as high as the average of all the other provinces outside of Hubei.

Most convincingly, the researchers found that the COVID-19 cure rate was significantly associated with selenium status, as measured by the amount of selenium in hair, in 17 cities outside of Hubei.

Kate Bennett, a medical statistician at the University of Surrey, said; "There is a significant link between selenium status and COVID-19 cure rate, however it is important not to overstate this finding; we have not been able to work with individual level data and have not been able to take account of other possible factors such as age and underlying disease."

Ramy Saad, a doctor at Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, currently taking an MSc degree in Nutritional Medicine at the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Surrey, commented; "The correlation we have identified is compelling, particularly given previous research on selenium and infectious diseases. As such, a careful and thorough assessment of the role selenium may play in COVID-19 is certainly justified and may help to guide ongoing public-health decisions".

NEWS RELEASE 4-MAY-2020

Study shows biocell collagen ingestion reduced signs of UVB-induced photoaging

New peer-reviewed, published research finds branded dietary matrix of hydrolyzed collagen type II, chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid reduced the formation of wrinkles and helped maintain skin elasticity in a laboratory study within 14 weeks

BIOCELL TECHNOLOGY

Building on an extensive body of research on the efficacy of BioCell Collagen®, a new published laboratory study finds that daily supplementation with the branded matrix reduced common signs of UVB-induced photoaging compared to the group that did not receive the supplement. The study found that oral supplementation with BioCell Collagen, with controlled UVB exposure, resulted in reduced signs of photoaging, including significant decreases in wrinkles and transepidermal water loss, and significant increases in skin elasticity and hyaluronic acid (HA) content. The full findings of the peer-reviewed study were published in the May issue of Journal of Functional Foods and are available to view on ScienceDirect.

Photoaging - skin damage caused by exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) light - is responsible for 90 percent of visible changes to the skin. UVB-induced photoaging, like that administered in the study, damages the outermost layers of the skin , and contributes to premature aging, like wrinkles, fine lines, loss of skin elasticity and hydration.

"Nearly everyone is exposed to UVB-induced photoaging at some level and minimal research exists on options for reducing it through nutritional supplementation," said Brooke Alpert, RD and a leading skin nutrition expert. "This laboratory research study, along with prior studies in humans demonstrates that BioCell Collagen's unique matrix of hydrolyzed collagen type II peptides, chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid may be used to address common, visible signs of photoaging, and is a promising step forward. These findings are incredibly encouraging for anyone desiring healthier-looking skin, especially for those seeking an effective, safe, non-invasive option for their skin routine."

BioCell Collagen is a clinically tested branded dietary ingredient with nearly two decades of research, that promotes youthful-looking skin, active joints, and healthy connective tissues.

Conducted by an independent research team, the study evaluated the use of BioCell Collagen in hairless mice, which have skin absorption levels comparable to human skin.

There were 40 hairless mice in the study, equally divided into four groups: a group receiving no UVB exposure and no supplement, a group receiving UVB exposure with no supplement; and two active groups receiving UVB and different dosages of the supplement.

Over the course of 14 weeks, the intervention groups supplemented once daily with BioCell Collagen at 200 mg/kg (human equivalence to 1g daily) or 600 mg/kg (human equivalence to 3g daily). For UV exposure, each animal was exposed to UVB radiation (290-320 nm) three times per week. The skin was measured and graded to determine the efficacy of BioCell Collagen on measurements of wrinkles, transepidermal water loss, skin elasticity and collagen levels.

BioCell Collagen significantly impacted skin-related changes commonly associated with UVB-induced photoaging (compared with non-supplemented controls), with supplementation found to reduce the negative effects of UVB on:

  • The formation of wrinkles, including the number, area, length, and depth of wrinkles
  • Skin elasticity
  • Skin hyaluronic acid content
  • Two things commonly attributed to UVB-induced skin aging: transepidermal water loss and matrix metalloproteinases enzyme content.

These findings follow numerous published studies on the efficacy of BioCell Collagen and show how the dietary supplement is a safe and effective option for healthy skin and joint aging. Once-daily administration over 14 weeks was well-tolerated, with no reported side effects.

"These findings are consistent with prior research on the efficacy of BioCell Collagen as a safe and effective component to a skin health routine," said Suhail Ishaq, president of BioCell Technology which sponsored the study. "Photoaging effects nearly everyone and is responsible for a vast majority of visible skin damage. While BioCell Collagen cannot replace your sunscreen, this study is further evidence that BioCell Collagen can serve as a safe, easy-to-take, non-invasive addition to a skin care regimen. Pairing daily oral supplementation of BioCell Collagen with a quality topical sunscreen to prevent damage can be the foundation of a good year-round skin care routine."

Alpert points to BioCell as an accessible solution for Americans who are facing both new and seasonal changes to their usual grooming and skincare routines.

"As we head deeper into spring and toward summer, the UVB-rays that cause photoaging will again become a challenge for our skin health making the use of a quality topical sunscreen imperative," said Alpert. "Even as we stay inside, practicing social distancing, we are faced with additional skin stressors, including dryness due to HVAC systems and issues related to increased screen time. This is a viable time for those seeking more subtle ways to support their skin health to introduce BioCell Collagen supplementation into a skin care regimen, along with a topical sunscreen."

"When seeking skin health solutions, look for products supported by research," said Alpert. "The unique bioavailable matrix of BioCell Collagen is conducive to good absorption in the body, which means that you can actually get the benefits shown by research."

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BioCell Collagen is available as a stand-alone product or as a primary ingredient in many formulations worldwide from leading dietary supplement brands.

About BioCell Collagen

BioCell Collagen® is a clinically studied dietary supplement ingredient comprised of a complex matrix of primarily collagen type II peptides, chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid. BioCell Collagen is clinically shown to promote active joints, youthful-looking skin, and healthy connective tissues. Various studies including seven human clinical trials support the safety, efficacy and bioavailability of BioCell Collagen. BioCell Collagen is self-affirmed GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe), is non-GMO and free of gluten, soy, shellfish, fish, egg, milk, peanuts and sugar. BioCell Collagen is only made in the USA and Germany. For more information, visit http://www.BioCellCollagen.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GS86Cybl9TQ ivermectin

 

EWS RELEASE 7-MAY-2020

Vitamin D linked to low virus death rate -- Study

New COVID-19 research finds relationship in data from 20 European countries

ANGLIA RUSKIN UNIVERSITY

A new study has found an association between low average levels of vitamin D and high numbers of COVID-19 cases and mortality rates across 20 European countries.

The research, led by Dr Lee Smith of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and Mr Petre Cristian Ilie, lead urologist of Queen Elizabeth Hospital King's Lynn NHS Foundation Trust, is published in the journal Aging Clinical and Experimental Research.

Previous observational studies have reported an association between low levels of vitamin D and susceptibility to acute respiratory tract infections. Vitamin D modulates the response of white blood cells, preventing them from releasing too many inflammatory cytokines. The COVID-19 virus is known to cause an excess of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Italy and Spain have both experienced high COVID-19 mortality rates, and the new study shows that both countries have lower average vitamin D levels than most northern European countries. This is partly because people in southern Europe, particularly the elderly, avoid strong sun, while skin pigmentation also reduces natural vitamin D synthesis.

The highest average levels of vitamin D are found in northern Europe, due to the consumption of cod liver oil and vitamin D supplements, and possibly less sun avoidance. Scandinavian nations are among the countries with the lowest number of COVID-19 cases and mortality rates per head of population in Europe.

Dr Lee Smith, Reader in Physical Activity and Public Health at Anglia Ruskin University, said: "We found a significant crude relationship between average vitamin D levels and the number COVID-19 cases, and particularly COVID-19 mortality rates, per head of population across the 20 European countries.

"Vitamin D has been shown to protect against acute respiratory infections, and older adults, the group most deficient in vitamin D, are also the ones most seriously affected by COVID-19.

"A previous study found that 75% of people in institutions, such as hospitals and care homes, were severely deficient in vitamin D. We suggest it would be advisable to perform dedicated studies looking at vitamin D levels in COVID-19 patients with different degrees of disease severity."

Mr Petre Cristian Ilie, lead urologist of Queen Elizabeth Hospital King's Lynn NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Our study does have limitations however, not least because the number of cases in each country is affected by the number of tests performed, as well as the different measures taken by each country to prevent the spread of infection. Finally, and importantly, one must remember correlation does not necessarily mean causation."

NEWS RELEASE 6-MAY-2020

Researchers find certain foods common in diets of US adults with inflammatory bowel disease

GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY

ATLANTA--Foods, such as French fries, cheese, cookies, soda, and sports and energy drinks, are commonly found in the diets of United States adults with inflammatory bowel disease, according to a new study by researchers in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University.

The researchers analyzed the National Health Interview Survey 2015 to determine the food intake and frequency of consumption for U.S. adults with inflammatory bowel disease. The survey assessed 26 foods. The findings, published in the journal PLOS One, reveal that foods typically labeled as junk food were associated with inflammatory bowel disease.

Inflammatory bowel disease, which is characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, affects three million U.S. adults. There are two types of conditions, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Common symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease include persistent diarrhea, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or bloody stools, weight loss and fatigue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This study found fries were consumed by a greater number of people with inflammatory bowel disease, and they also ate more cheese and cookies and drank less 100 percent fruit juice compared to people who did not have inflammatory bowel disease.

Intaking fries and sports and energy drinks and frequently drinking soda were significantly associated with having been told one has inflammatory bowel disease. Consuming milk or popcorn was less likely associated with receiving this diagnosis.

"While foods typically labeled as junk food were positively associated with inflammatory bowel disease, we found the eating patterns of people with and without this disease to be very similar," said Dr. Moon Han, the study's first author who completed the work as a Ph.D. student in Dr. Didier Merlin's lab in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences and now works as a Health Scientist ORISE Fellow at the CDC. "However, it's unclear whether the survey results reflect a potential change in the food intake of people with inflammatory bowel disease long before the survey was conducted."

To fully understand the role of food intake in inflammatory bowel disease risk and prevalence, it's important to explore environmental factors (for example, food deserts), food processing (such as frying) and potential bioactive food components that can induce intestinal inflammation and increase susceptibility to inflammatory bowel disease, the researchers concluded.

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Co-authors of the study include Drs. Merlin (senior author), Raeda Anderson and Emilie Viennois of the Institute for Biomedical Sciences.

The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

To read the study, visit https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0232157.

NEWS RELEASE 6-MAY-2020

Antioxidant reverses damage to fertility caused by exposure to bisphenol A

A study shows that administering coenzyme Q10 reverses damage done to germinative cells by BPA, a contaminant found in many kinds of plastic

FUNDAÇÃO DE AMPARO À PESQUISA DO ESTADO DE SÃO PAULO

Exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical used to make certain plastics and resins, inner coatings for food cans and bottle tops, thermal paper used in store receipts, dental sealants and so on, is a concern because of possible adverse health effects, including a reduction in fertility.

A study performed at Harvard Medical School (HMS) in the United States by Maria Fernanda Hornos Carneiro and her research group shows that the harmful effects of BPA can be reversed by administering a supplement known as CoQ10 (coenzyme Q10), a substance naturally produced by the human body and found in beef and fish. Hornos Carneiro is a former São Paulo Research Foundation - FAPESP scholarship awardee.

The article published in the journal Genetics is the first to present this strategy for reversing the effects of BPA in the organism. In this study, the researchers tested the antioxidant action of CoQ10 in nematodes of the species Caenorhabditis elegans exposed to BPA.

As an excellent antioxidant, CoQ10 is an electron donor. By donating its electrons, it stabilizes free radicals, reducing the oxidative stress and cell damage caused by BPA.

"BPA has oxidation potential as it's chemically unstable and produces reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. When the antioxidant reserves in cells [electron donors] run out, the amount of reactive oxygen and nitrogen increases. Because of their chemical instability, they 'poach' electrons from mitochondria and other cellular organelles, cell membranes, proteins, and even DNA, damaging cells significantly and potentially causing cell death. If this problem becomes extensive, it poses a major threat to the organism," Hornos Carneiro told.

The study measured the number of fertilized eggs laid and hatched and the number of progeny that reached adulthood. The problems detected can be compared to difficulty in becoming pregnant, miscarriages and chromosome anomalies in humans.

"BPA is a chemical contaminant that acts as an endocrine disruptor, causing cellular oxidative stress [an imbalance between oxidant and antioxidant molecules], which results in damage to gametes and embryos," said Hornos Carneiro, who conducted the study under the supervision of HMS Professor Monica Paola Colaiácovo. "In the study, the worms exposed to BPA and given CoQ10 displayed lower egg cell death rates, less DNA breakage and fewer abnormalities in chromosomes during cell division, as well as less cellular oxidative stress."

In the experiment, worms were exposed to different combinations of BPA, CoQ10 and a solvent (DMSO): solvent only, solvent and CoQ10, BPA only, and BPA plus CoQ10.

The amount of exposure to BPA mimicked the estimated amount in humans. "We know it's practically impossible to avoid exposure to BPA and similar contaminants in this day and age, so we looked for a strategy to minimize the harm done. Many studies have shown that age reduces fertility in women, and because exposure to BPA [and other endocrine disruptors] occurs throughout life, it's not yet possible to estimate separately the extent to which observed infertility is due to exposure to toxic chemicals in the external environment and how much is due to aging," Hornos Carneiro said.

The nematodes used in the study were transgenic, with a fluorescent protein sequence inserted into their DNA to enable in vivo observation of protein expression. Fluorescent antibodies were also used, as well as advanced microscopy and molecular biology techniques. The researchers were thereby able to observe in real time the effects produced at the cellular and molecular levels during the process of cell division (meiosis) and embryo formation in the worms.

Estrogen mimic

According to Hornos Carneiro, BPA's chemical structure is similar to that of estrogen, a female sex hormone that plays a key role in ovulation. As a result, BPA can bind to estrogen receptors in humans, leading to a number of significant effects. "Depending on the tissue, the effects may be pro-estrogenic or anti-estrogenic, with an impact not just on the reproductive system but also on other systems and processes that are important to a person's health," she said.

Hornos Carneiro is currently a professor in the School of Chemistry and Pharmacy at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. She conducted the study at the University of São Paulo's Ribeirão Preto School of Pharmaceutical Sciences (FCFRP-USP) in Brazil with the support of a FAPESP scholarship for postdoctoral research internship abroad.

DNA breakage and mitochondrial dysfunction

According to Hornos Carneiro, exposure of the worms to BPA alone resulted in more DNA breaks. "This was potentially due to the action of reactive oxygen species formed as a result of the presence of the contaminant in the organism," she said. "We found that the breaks were not correctly repaired in this group of worms."

The damage was observed by monitoring a protein involved in DNA breakage and repair when genetic material is exchanged between homologous chromosomes during meiosis.

This exchange of genetic material, known as crossing over, is important for increasing genetic diversity and driving evolution. "One hypothesis is that the increase in DNA breakage [and inefficient repair] was due to a rise in gonad oxidative stress caused by BPA," she said.

Another finding was that mitochondrial dysfunction increased. Mitochondria are energy-producing organelles in cells. "Because of oxidative stress, mitochondrial membrane potential was significantly altered in the worms exposed only to BPA, while in the group that received the CoQ10 supplement, this marker was much improved," Hornos Carneiro said.

Effect on embryos

The effect of BPA on embryos was also studied in this experiment. As a hermaphrodite, C. elegans self-fertilizes, and it is therefore possible to observe in its gonads all stages of germinative cell development in meiosis up to the polar corpuscle and embryo formation.

"In the study, we observed embryo formation in vivo using a technique called live imaging," Hornos Carneiro explained. "The benchmark for analysis of the occurrence of defects was the first cell division [the precise moment at which the unicellular embryo divides in two]. In the group exposed only to BPA, a larger number of defects were observed, such as formation of chromatin bridges and cell division cessation."

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About São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP)

The São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) is a public institution with the mission of supporting scientific research in all fields of knowledge by awarding scholarships, fellowships and grants to investigators linked with higher education and research institutions in the State of São Paulo, Brazil. FAPESP is aware that the very best research can only be done by working with the best researchers internationally. Therefore, it has established partnerships with funding agencies, higher education, private companies, and research organizations in other countries known for the quality of their research and has been encouraging scientists funded by its grants to further develop their international collaboration. You can learn more about FAPESP at http://www.fapesp.br/en and visit FAPESP news agency at http://www.agencia.fapesp.br/en to keep updated with the latest scientific breakthroughs FAPESP helps achieve through its many programs, awards and research centers. You may also subscribe to FAPESP news agency at http://agencia.fapesp.br/subscribe.

NEWS RELEASE 6-MAY-2020

Fighting autoimmunity and cancer: The nutritional key

Novel approach to cure autoimmunity through specially tailored nutrition and to support cancer therapy.

Scientists at the Department of Infection and Immunity of the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) revealed a novel mechanism through which the immune system can control autoimmunity and cancer. In the special focus of the researchers were regulatory T cells - a specific type of white blood cells that in general act as a brake on the immune system. The LIH research team led by Prof Dirk Brenner, FNR ATTRACT fellow and Head of Experimental & Molecular Immunology, revealed a mechanism that controls the function of regulatory T cells and determines the balance between autoimmunity and anti-cancer activity. In a preclinical model, the scientists further showed that the elucidation of the metabolic mechanism of a disease can lead to disease reduction by a rationally-designed diet that specifically addresses these metabolic alterations. This sets a new direction for future treatment of metabolic diseases. These findings, which were published today in the leading international journal Cell Metabolism, hold important implications for the development of personalised treatment options for autoimmune disorders and cancer.

"Our immune system is needed for a healthy body function and protects us from all kinds of infections. Particularly important in this respect are T cells, and specifically regulatory T cells. Although these represent only a small fraction of all T cells, they are crucial to keep our immune system in check" explains Prof Brenner. "If regulatory T cells are not functional, the immune system gets out of control and turns against its own body. This can lead to detrimental autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, type I diabetes or arthritis. However, a highly reactive immune system can kill cancer cells very efficiently. This has led to the development of 'checkpoint inhibitors', specific drugs that unleash an immune system attack on cancer cells and which won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2018". The Luxembourgish scientists took this angle and revealed a novel mechanism by which this balance between an extreme or subdued immune reaction can be controlled by modifying regulatory T cell metabolism.

Initially, the researchers focused on how regulatory T cells cope with stress. Cellular stress can originate from the cells themselves, for example when they get activated and divide, but also from their environment, especially from nearby tumour cells. Free radicals called reactive oxygen species (ROS) are the molecular mediators of cellular stress. These are harmful for the cells and therefore need to be inactivated. "Free oxygen radicals are 'neutralised' by antioxidants and the major antioxidant in T cells is a molecule known as glutathione. We were surprised when we realised that regulatory T cells had about three times as much glutathione as other T cells. This pointed to an important function", says Henry Kurniawan, first author of the study and PhD student in Prof Brenner's group. Through a sophisticated genetic approach, the scientists removed a gene named 'glutamate cysteine ligase' (Gclc) only in a small population of regulatory T cells in mice. The Gclc gene is instrumental for glutathione production. Prof Brenner's team discovered that free radicals accumulated in these genetically altered regulatory T cells and that these cells lost their ability to act as a brake on the immune system. Strikingly, this led to a massive immune activation and a fatal autoimmune disease.

The team also found that the absence of glutathione in regulatory T cells increased serine metabolism massively. Serine is one of the 22 different amino acids that constitute the building blocks of proteins, which are in turn important for the structure and function of cells. No previous research group had studied the connection between glutathione, free radicals, serine and regulatory T cell function before. Prof Brenner's team characterised the metabolic alteration that led to the observed autoimmune disease in their mutant mice. Based on their findings, they designed a specific nutritional plan with the aim of correcting these disease-causing metabolic shifts. This dietary plan lacked both the amino acids serine and the closely related glycine. Interestingly, this engineered precision diet suppressed the severe autoimmunity and no disease developed. "Importantly, our study shows that the absence of only 2 out of 22 amino acids can cure a complex autoimmune disease. Therefore, elucidating the exact metabolic and molecular basis of a disease offers the possibility to correct these metabolic abnormalities through a special diet that is precisely adapted to the delineated disease mechanism. Our study might be a first step in the direction of the personalised treatment of metabolic diseases and autoimmunity", explains Prof Brenner.

"The relationship between glutathione, free radicals and serine can be used as a 'switch' to modulate immune cell activation. A higher immune cell activity is beneficial for cancer patients. We were intrigued by the idea of using our findings also to boost anti-tumor responses" he adds. Indeed, the team further showed that lower glutathione levels in regulatory T cells and the resulting rise in immune cell activation led to a significant tumour rejection, which might open up new therapeutic avenues for cancer treatment. "These astonishing results show the enormous potential of tweaking metabolism to prevent autoimmunity and target cancer. This could pave the way for the development of a new generation of immunotherapies," explains Prof Markus Ollert, Director of LIH's Department of Infection and Immunity. "The publication of these results in such a competitive and prestigious international journal is a momentous accomplishment not just for our department and institute, but for the entire Luxembourgish biomedical research community", he concludes.

In future projects, the researchers will use their findings to elaborate new approaches for therapeutic intervention. In that respect, the scientists have already proven that their delineated disease-controlling mechanism is also relevant in human regulatory T cells.

Due to its significance, the publication was selected by Cell Metabolism to be featured as the cover story of the May issue of the journal.

Involved research teams

Prof Dirk Brenner is the Deputy Head of Research & Strategy at LIH's Department of Infection and Immunity. He is Professor for Immunology & Genetics at the Luxembourg Center for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg and Professor of Allergology at the University of Southern Denmark. He received a prestigious ATTRACT Consolidator grant from the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR), in 2015 to set up the Experimental & Molecular Immunology research group at LIH. The FNR-ATTRACT programme supports the national research institutions by expanding their competences in strategic research areas by attracting outstanding young researchers with high potential to Luxembourg.

The present study was performed in close collaboration with a national and international team and involved partners from LIH's Department of Infection and Immunity, LIH's Department of Oncology, the Braunschweig Integrated Center of Systems Biology (BRICS) of the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany), the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (Germany), the Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research at the University of Toronto (Canada), the Institute for Medical Microbiology and Hospital Hygiene at the University of Marburg (Germany), the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Yale School of Public Health (USA), the Odense Research Center for Anaphylaxis (ORCA) of the Odense University Hospital (Denmark), the Department of Biomedical Genetics and Wilmot Cancer Institute of the University of Rochester Medical Center (USA), the Departments of Medical Biophysics and Immunology at the University of Toronto (Canada) and the University of Hong Kong (China).

NEWS RELEASE 6-MAY-2020

Green tea may help with weight loss efforts

In an analysis of randomized controlled trials, individuals who consumed green tea experienced a significant decline in body weight and body mass index. On the other hand, the analysis did not show any significant change in terms of waist circumference (a measure of abdominal fat) with green tea supplementation. The findings are published in Phytotherapy Research.

The analysis of 26 randomized controlled trials including 1,344 participants found that body weight and body mass index significantly changed after green tea was consumed for periods longer than 12 weeks and at a dosage of less than 800 mg/day.

NEWS RELEASE 5-MAY-2020

Non-caloric sweetener reduces signs of fatty liver disease in preclinical research study

Children's Hospital Los Angeles investigator uncovers benefit of stevia extract compared to sugar

CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL LOS ANGELES

There is clear evidence that high sugar consumption leads to obesity and fatty liver disease. Synthetic and natural alternatives to sugar are available, but little is known about the effects of these non-caloric sweeteners on the liver. A new study led by Rohit Kohli, MBBS, MS, shows that stevia extract can reduce markers of fatty liver disease. The results of the pre-clinical research, published in the journal Scientific Reports led to a clinical trial, now in progress.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that obesity affects nearly 19% of children. An associated condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease affects one out of every 10 children. Fatty liver disease can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Consumption of too much sugar can lead to both obesity and fatty liver disease.

"Sugary foods and drinks can cause scarring in the liver," says Dr. Kohli, "but we don't know how non-caloric sweeteners may affect liver disease." In a first-of-its-kind study, Dr. Kohli addressed and answered the question: Can non-caloric sweeteners improve signs of fatty liver disease?

Using a preclinical model, he tested two non-caloric sweeteners, sucralose and stevia extract. Both are widely available and appear in many sweetened foods and drinks. "We were interested in those two compounds because they are the newest and least studied in the context of liver disease and obesity," says Dr. Kohli.

The results were striking. "We compared these sweeteners head to head with sugar," he says. "Stevia extract lowers glucose levels and improves markers of fatty liver disease." These markers include fibrosis and fat levels in the liver. The study also uncovered some potential mechanisms that could be responsible for reversing these markers of fatty liver disease. "We saw a decrease in signs of cellular stress and some changes in the gut microbiome," says Dr. Kohli, "but there is more work to do in order for us to understand the clinical relevance."

The preclinical study was funded by the Stanley W. Ekstrom Foundation. The results led Dr. Kohli's team directly into a clinical trial - also funded by the Stanley W. Ekstrom Foundation - to test the effects of stevia in pediatric patients. "The exciting thing is that we have taken a problem that we see in the clinic, studied it preclinically, and now we are back to test the solution - all in under two years." says Dr. Kohli.

NEWS RELEASE 5-MAY-2020

Potato power: Spuds serve high quality protein that's good for women's muscle

MCMASTER UNIVERSITY

 

Researchers from McMaster University have found that the potato, primarily known as a starchy vegetable, can be a source of high-quality protein that helps to maintain muscle.

The findings, reported in the journal Nutrients, highlight the potential benefits of what is considered a non-traditional source of protein, particularly as dietary trends change and worldwide demand has increased for plant-based alternatives to animal-derived sources.

"While the amount of protein found in a potato is small, we grow lots of potatoes and the protein, when isolated, it can provide some measurable benefits," says Sara Oikawa, a former graduate student in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster and lead author of the research paper.

The researchers recruited young women in their early twenties who consumed diets containing protein at the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 0.8 grams of protein/ per kilogram of weight/day, which would be approximately 60g of protein for the average woman or 70g for the average man.

One group of participants consumed additional potato protein isolate - in the form of a pudding--doubling their intake of the RDA to 1.6g/kg/d. Another group received a placebo.

Researchers found the women who consumed the additional potato protein increased the rate at which their muscles made new protein, while the placebo group did not.

"This was an interesting finding that we did not expect," says Oikawa. "But it is one that shows the recommended daily allowance is inadequate to support maintenance of muscle in these young women."

Perhaps more interesting, she says, was that a form of plant-derived protein, which has generally been thought to be of lower quality than animal-derived protein, can have such a beneficial effect.

To study the impact of weightlifting, the research team then instructed both groups of women to exercise only one of their legs.

"This method is a little unconventional but allows us to see the effect within the same person and not have to add more people who were exercising," said the study principal investigator Stuart Phillips, who is a professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster and a leading researcher on protein and exercise.

In the leg the women exercised, scientists did not find any extra benefits from potato protein.

"That finding, which some may find disappointing, is in line with the rather small effect that protein has compared to exercise itself," explains Phillips. "In other words, exercise is just such a more potent stimulus for making new muscle proteins compared to protein."

The demand for protein has risen dramatically to meet the increased demands from the rising global population and plant-based proteins could fill that gap.

"This study provides evidence that the quality of proteins from plants can support muscle," says Oikawa. "I think you'll see more work on plant-based protein sources being done."

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The research was funded by the Alliance for Potato Research & Education.

NEWS RELEASE 5-MAY-2020

More berries, apples and tea may have protective benefits against Alzheimer's

Study shows low intake of flavonoid-rich foods linked with higher Alzheimer's risk over 20 years

TUFTS UNIVERSITY, HEALTH SCIENCES CAMPUS

BOSTON (May 5, 2020)--Older adults who consumed small amounts of flavonoid-rich foods, such as berries, apples and tea, were two to four times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease and related dementias over 20 years compared with people whose intake was higher, according to a new study led by scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University.

The epidemiological study of 2,800 people aged 50 and older examined the long-term relationship between eating foods containing flavonoids and risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD). While many studies have looked at associations between nutrition and dementias over short periods of time, the study published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at exposure over 20 years.

Flavonoids are natural substances found in plants, including fruits and vegetables such as pears, apples, berries, onions, and plant-based beverages like tea and wine. Flavonoids are associated with various health benefits, including reduced inflammation. Dark chocolate is another source of flavonoids.

The research team determined that low intake of three flavonoid types was linked to higher risk of dementia when compared to the highest intake. Specifically:

  • Low intake of flavonols (apples, pears and tea) was associated with twice the risk of developing ADRD.
  • Low intake of anthocyanins (blueberries, strawberries, and red wine) was associated with a four-fold risk of developing ADRD.
  • Low intake of flavonoid polymers (apples, pears, and tea) was associated with twice the risk of developing ADRD.

The results were similar for AD.

"Our study gives us a picture of how diet over time might be related to a person's cognitive decline, as we were able to look at flavonoid intake over many years prior to participants' dementia diagnoses," said Paul Jacques, senior author and nutritional epidemiologist at the USDA HNRCA. "With no effective drugs currently available for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, preventing disease through a healthy diet is an important consideration."

The researchers analyzed six types of flavonoids and compared long-term intake levels with the number of AD and ADRD diagnoses later in life. They found that low intake (15th percentile or lower) of three flavonoid types was linked to higher risk of dementia when compared to the highest intake (greater than 60th percentile). Examples of the levels studied included:

  • Low intake (15th percentile or lower) was equal to no berries (anthocyanins) per month, roughly one-and-a-half apples per month (flavonols), and no tea (flavonoid polymers).
  • High intake (60th percentile or higher) was equal to roughly 7.5 cups of blueberries or strawberries (anthocyanins) per month, 8 apples and pears per month (flavonols), and 19 cups of tea per month (flavonoid polymers).

"Tea, specifically green tea, and berries are good sources of flavonoids," said first author Esra Shishtar, who at the time of the study was a doctoral student at the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in the Nutritional Epidemiology Program at the USDA HNRCA. "When we look at the study results, we see that the people who may benefit the most from consuming more flavonoids are people at the lowest levels of intake, and it doesn't take much to improve levels. A cup of tea a day or some berries two or three times a week would be adequate," she said.

Jacques also said 50, the approximate age at which data was first analyzed for participants, is not too late to make positive dietary changes. "The risk of dementia really starts to increase over age 70, and the take home message is, when you are approaching 50 or just beyond, you should start thinking about a healthier diet if you haven't already," he said.

Methodology

To measure long-term flavonoid intake, the research team used dietary questionnaires, filled out at medical exams approximately every four years by participants in the Framingham Heart Study, a largely Caucasian group of people who have been studied over several generations for risk factors of heart disease.

To increase the likelihood that dietary information was accurate, the researchers excluded questionnaires from the years leading up to the dementia diagnosis, based on the assumption that, as cognitive status declined, dietary behavior may have changed, and food questionnaires were more likely to be inaccurate.

The participants were from the Offspring Cohort (children of the original participants), and the data came from exams 5 through 9. At the start of the study, the participants were free of AD and ADRD, with a valid food frequency questionnaire at baseline. Flavonoid intakes were updated at each exam to represent cumulative average intake across the five exam cycles.

Researchers categorized flavonoids into six types and created four intake levels based on percentiles: less than or equal to the 15th percentile, 15th-30th percentile, 30th-60th percentile, and greater than 60th percentile. They then compared flavonoid intake types and levels with new diagnoses of AD and ADRD.

There are some limitations to the study, including the use of self-reported food data from food frequency questionnaires, which are subject to errors in recall. The findings are generalizable to middle-aged or older adults of European descent. Factors such as education level, smoking status, physical activity, body mass index and overall quality of the participants' diets may have influenced the results, but researchers accounted for those factors in the statistical analysis. Due to its observational design, the study does not reflect a causal relationship between flavonoid intake and the development of AD and ADRD.

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NEWS RELEASE 11-MAY-2020

Change of direction in immune defense: Frankincense reprograms inflammatory enzyme

Research team has clarified the anti-inflammatory effect of a natural product from frankincense resin

FRIEDRICH-SCHILLER-UNIVERSITAET JENA

 

Once upon a time, the Three Kings brought precious gifts to the new-born baby Jesus: as well as gold and myrrh, they also had frankincense in their bags. "Even today, frankincense is a valuable gift," says Prof. Oliver Werz of Friedrich Schiller University - although he is not really thinking about the biblical meaning of frankincense. "The resin extracted from the bark of the frankincense tree contains anti-inflammatory substances, which make it suitable for the treatment of diseases such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis or neurodermatitis, among others," he explains.

Pharmacist Werz and his team have been investigating the anti-inflammatory effect of frankincense resin and its components for several years. Now, together with colleagues in the US, the Jena University researchers have succeeded in uncovering the molecular mechanism of boswellic acid, a substance which is responsible for the anti-inflammatory effect of frankincense. They present their results in the current issue of the specialist journal "Natural Chemical Biology" (DOI: 10.1038/s41589-020-0544-7).

Crystal structure analyses reveal where active substances target the inflammatory enzyme

The enzyme 5-lipoxygenase plays a key role in the effect of frankincense. "It has been known for more than 40 years that this enzyme promotes the formation of leukotrienes, an important group of inflammatory mediators in the human body," explains Werz. However, in its current paper, the research team has for the first time been able to clarify and image the crystal structure of this central inflammatory enzyme with bound inhibitors. The images of the crystal structure allow detailed studies of the enzyme and its interaction with active substances, as well as the development of new anti-inflammatory drugs.

And that is exactly what Werz and his colleagues have done. In addition to zileuton, an anti-inflammatory drug already on the market, which is a synthetic preparation used to treat asthma, the researchers have combined the enzyme with various natural products and analysed the crystal structures of the resulting complexes. The result initially surprised the researchers: while other natural products, in a similar way to zileuton, dock directly to the active site of the enzyme and thus inhibit its function, boswellic acid binds to another site of the enzyme molecule, far from the active site. "However, this binding leads to structural changes in the active site and this also inhibits the enzyme activity," says Werz.

Domino effect in the enzyme structure

Therefore, these structural changes triggered by the frankincense component already have an anti-inflammatory effect. "But the influence of boswellic acid goes far beyond this," says Dr Jana Gerstmeier. The pharmacist from Werz's team is one of the study's two lead authors. "This binding creates a domino effect, which also causes a change in the specificity of the enzyme," Gerstmeier adds. Instead of catalysing the synthesis of pro-inflammatory leukotrienes, 5-lipoxygenase produces anti-inflammatory substances under the influence of boswellic acid. "That means, in simple terms, that the frankincense component reprograms the inflammatory enzyme into an anti-inflammatory enzyme."

According to the authors of the study, these findings can now be used on the one hand to test the boswellic acids from frankincense in relevant disease models and perhaps later to develop them as a drug to treat inflammatory diseases. On the other hand, thanks to the newly discovered binding site on 5-lipoxygenase, other potential drugs can be developed and their effectiveness as anti-inflammatory agents tested in experiments.

NEWS RELEASE 12-MAY-2020

A combo of fasting plus vitamin C is effective for hard-to-treat cancers, study shows

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Scientists from USC and the IFOM Cancer Institute in Milan have found that a fasting-mimicking diet could be more effective at treating some types of cancer when combined with vitamin C.

In studies on mice, researchers found that the combination delayed tumor progression in multiple mouse models of colorectal cancer; in some mice, it caused disease regression. The results were published in the journal Nature Communications.

"For the first time, we have demonstrated how a completely non-toxic intervention can effectively treat an aggressive cancer," said Valter Longo, the study senior author and the director of the USC Longevity Institute at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and professor of biological sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. "We have taken two treatments that are studied extensively as interventions to delay aging-- a fasting-mimicking diet and vitamin C -- and combined them as a powerful treatment for cancer."

The researchers said that while fasting remains a challenging option for cancer patients, a safer, more feasible option is a low-calorie, plant-based diet that causes cells to respond as if the body were fasting. Their findings suggest that a low-toxicity treatment of fasting-mimicking diet plus vitamin C has the potential to replace more toxic treatments.

Results of prior research on the cancer-fighting potential of vitamin C have been mixed. Recent studies, though, are beginning to show some efficacy, especially in combination with chemotherapy. In this new study, the research team wanted to find out whether a fasting-mimicking diet could enhance the high-dose vitamin C tumor-fighting action by creating an environment that would be unsustainable for cancer cells but still safe for normal cells.

"Our first in vitro experiment showed remarkable effects," said Longo. "When used alone, fasting-mimicking diet or vitamin C alone reduced cancer cell growth and caused a minor increase in cancer cell death. But when used together, they had a dramatic effect, killing almost all cancerous cells."

Longo and his colleagues detected this strong effect only in cancer cells that had a mutation that is regarded as one of the most challenging targets in cancer research. These mutations in the KRAS gene signal the body is resisting most cancer-fighting treatments, and they reduce a patient's survival rate. KRAS mutations occur in approximately a quarter of all human cancers and are estimated to occur in up to half of all colorectal cancers.

The study also provided clues about why previous studies of vitamin C as a potential anticancer therapy showed limited efficacy. By itself, a vitamin C treatment appears to trigger the KRAS-mutated cells to protect cancer cells by increasing levels of ferritin, a protein that binds iron. But by reducing levels of ferritin, the scientists managed to increase vitamin C's toxicity for the cancer cells. Amid this finding, the scientists also discovered that colorectal cancer patients with high levels of the iron-binding protein have a lower chance of survival.

"In this study, we observed how fasting-mimicking diet cycles are able to increase the effect of pharmacological doses of vitamin C against KRAS-mutated cancers," said Maira Di Tano, a study co-author at the IFOM, FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology in Milan, Italy. "This occurs through the regulation of the levels of iron and of the molecular mechanisms involved in oxidative stress. The results particularly pointed to a gene that regulates iron levels: heme-oxygenase-1."

The research team's prior studies showed that fasting and a fasting-mimicking diet slow cancer's progression and make chemotherapy more effective in tumor cells, while protecting normal cells from chemotherapy-associated side effects. The combination enhances the immune system's anti-tumor response in breast cancer and melanoma mouse models.

The scientists believe cancer will eventually be treated with low-toxicity drugs in a manner similar to how antibiotics are used to treat infections that kill particular bacteria, but which can be substituted by other drugs if the first is not effective.

To move toward that goal, they say they needed to first test two hypotheses: that their non-toxic combination interventions would work in mice, and that it would look promising for human clinical trials. In this new study, they said that they've demonstrated both. At least five clinical trials, including one at USC on breast cancer and prostate cancer patients, are now investigating the effects of the fasting-mimicking diets in combination with different cancer-fighting drugs.

NEWS RELEASE 14-MAY-2020

Vitamin B3 revitalizes energy metabolism in muscle disease

UNIVERSITY OF HELSINKI

 

An international team of scientists, led by University of Helsinki reported that vitamin B3, niacin, has therapeutic effect in progressive muscle disease. Niacin delayed disease progression in patients with mitochondrial myopathy, a progressive disease with no previous curative treatments.

Vitamin B3 forms have recently emerged as potent boosters of energy metabolism in rodents. These vitamins are precursors for NAD+, a molecular switch of metabolism between fasting and growth modes.

As fasting has been shown promote health and longevity in for example mice, a variety of "NAD boosters" are being developed. However, whether actual NAD+ deficiency exists in human disease, and whether NAD+ boosters could have curative effects in patients with degenerative diseases, has remained elusive.

In the current publication, a collaborative team of investigators led by academy professor Anu Suomalainen-Wartiovaara and academy research fellow Eija Pirinen report lowered NAD+ levels in both blood and muscle of mitochondrial myopathy patients.

"The disease is characterized by progressive muscle weakness, exercise intolerance and cramps. Currently, no treatments that would slow down disease progression exist", says Suomalainen-Wartiovaara.

Niacin - a promising treatment option

Pirinen and colleagues report that niacin treatment efficiently increased blood NAD+ both in patients and healthy subjects. Niacin restored NAD+ in the muscle of the patients to the normal level and improved strength of large muscles and mitochondrial oxidative capacity. Overall metabolism shifted towards that of normal subjects.

The results of this open pilot study revealed that niacin is a promising treatment option for mitochondrial myopathy. The authors emphasize, however, that niacin and NAD+ are efficient metabolic modifiers and niacin treatment should be cautiously applied only, when NAD deficiency is detected for example in the patient's blood.

"Our results are a proof-of-principle that NAD+ deficiency exists in humans and that NAD+ boosters can delay progression of mitochondrial muscle disease", Suomalainen-Wartiovaara comments.

"The study is a significant leap in the development of targeted therapy options for energy metabolic diseases", Suomalainen-Wartiovaara continues.

NEWS RELEASE 13-MAY-2020

Coffee linked to lower body fat in women

Study indicates that compounds in coffee may have anti-obesity properties

ANGLIA RUSKIN UNIVERSITY

Women who drink two or three cups of coffee a day have been found to have lower total body and abdominal fat than those who drink less, according to a new study published in The Journal of Nutrition.

Researchers examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, organised by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States and looked at the relationship between cups of coffee drunk per day, and both total body fat percentage and abdominal or 'trunk' fat (adiposity).

They found that women aged 20-44 who drank two or three cups of coffee per day had the lowest levels of adiposity, 3.4% lower than people who did not consume coffee. Among women aged between 45-69, those who drank four or more cups had an adiposity percentage 4.1% lower.

Overall, the average total body fat percentage was 2.8% lower among women of all ages who drank two or three cups of coffee per day.

The findings were consistent whether the coffee consumed was caffeinated or decaffeinated, and among smokers/non-smokers and those suffering from chronic diseases when compared to those in good health.

In men, the relationship was less significant, although men aged 20-44 who drank two or three cups per day had 1.3% less total fat and 1.8% less trunk fat than those who did not consume coffee.

Around 7 million tons of coffee is consumed globally every year.

Dr Lee Smith, Reader in Public Health at Anglia Ruskin University and senior author of the study, said: "Our research suggests that there may be bioactive compounds in coffee other than caffeine that regulate weight and which could potentially be used as anti-obesity compounds.

"It could be that coffee, or its effective ingredients, could be integrated into a healthy diet strategy to reduce the burden of chronic conditions related to the obesity epidemic.

"It is important to interpret the findings of this study in light of its limitations - the study was at a specific point in time so trends cannot be established. However, we don't believe that someone's weight is likely to influence their coffee consumption."

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Adding a blend of spices to a meal may help lower inflammation

PENN STATE

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Adding an array of spices to your meal is a surefire way to make it more tasty, but new Penn State research suggests it may increase its health benefits, as well.

In a randomized, controlled feeding study, the researchers found that when participants ate a meal high in fat and carbohydrates with six grams of a spice blend added, the participants had lower inflammation markers compared to when they ate a meal with less or no spices.

"If spices are palatable to you, they might be a way to make a high-fat or high-carb meal more healthful," said Connie Rogers, associate professor of nutritional sciences. "We can't say from this study if it was one spice in particular, but this specific blend seemed to be beneficial."

The researchers used a blend of basil, bay leaf, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, ginger, oregano, parsley, red pepper, rosemary, thyme and turmeric for the study, which was recently published in the Journal of Nutrition.

According to Rogers, previous research has linked a variety of different spices, like ginger and tumeric, with anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, chronic inflammation has previously been associated with poor health outcomes like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and overweight and obesity, which affects approximately 72 percent of the U.S. population.

In more recent years, researchers have found that inflammation can spike after a person eats a meal high in fat or sugar. While it is not clear whether these short bursts -- called acute inflammation -- can cause chronic inflammation, Rogers said it's suspected they play a factor, especially in people with overweight or obesity.

"Ultimately the gold standard would be to get people eating more healthfully and to lose weight and exercise, but those behavioral changes are difficult and take time," Rogers said. "So in the interim, we wanted to explore whether a combination of spices that people are already familiar with and could fit in a single meal could have a positive effect."

For the study, the researchers recruited 12 men between the ages of 40 and 65, with overweight or obesity, and at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Rogers said the sample was chosen because people in these demographics tend to be at a higher risk for developing poorer health outcomes.

In random order, each participant ate three versions of a meal high in saturated fat and carbohydrates on three separate days: one with no spices, one with two grams of the spice blend, and one with six grams of the spice blend. The researchers drew blood samples before and then after each meal hourly for four hours to measure inflammatory markers.

"Additionally, we cultured the white blood cells and stimulated them to get the cells to respond to an inflammatory stimulus, similar to what would happen while your body is fighting an infection," Rogers said. "We think that's important because it's representative of what would happen in the body. Cells would encounter a pathogen and produce inflammatory cytokines."

After analyzing the data, the researchers found that inflammatory cytokines were reduced following the meal containing six grams of spices compared to the meal containing two grams of spices or no spices. Rogers said six grams roughly translates to between one teaspoon to one tablespoon, depending on how the spices are dehydrated.

While the researchers can't be sure which spice or spices are contributing to the effect, or the precise mechanism in which the effect is created, Rogers said the results suggest that the spices have anti-inflammatory properties that help offset inflammation caused by the high-carb and high-fat meal.

Additionally, Rogers said that a second study using the same subjects, conducted by Penn State researchers Penny Kris-Etherton and Kristina Petersen, found that six grams of spices resulted in a smaller post-meal reduction of "flow mediated dilation" in the blood vessels -- a measure of blood vessel flexibility and marker of blood vessel health.

In the future, Rogers said she, Kris-Etherton and Petersen will be working on further studies to determine the affects of spices in the diet across longer periods of time and within a more diverse population.

NEWS RELEASE 21-MAY-2020

Social isolation increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and death from all causes

Those who are socially isolated are over 40% more likely to have a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, than those who were socially integrated, new research has shown

SPINK HEALTH

(Vienna, Friday, 22 May, 2020) Those who are socially isolated are over 40% more likely to have a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, than those who were socially integrated, new research has shown.

The German study, due to presented tomorrow at the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) Virtual Congress, found that those who are socially isolated are almost 50% more likely to die from any cause. The research also showed that a lack of financial support independently increased the risk of cardiovascular events.

Performed within the Heinz Nixdorf Recall study (HNR) and led by Dr Janine Gronewold and Prof Dirk M. Hermann from the University Hospital in Essen, Germany, the research analysed data from 4,316 individuals (average age 59.1 years) who were recruited into the large community-based study between 2000 and 2003.

The study participants entered the study with no known cardiovascular disease and they were followed for an average of 13 years. At the start of the study, information was collected on different types of social support, with social integration assessed based on marital status and cohabitation, contact with close friends and family, and membership of political, religious, community, sports or professional organisations.

"We have known for some time that feeling lonely or lacking contact with close friends and family can have an impact on your physical health", commented Dr Gronewold. "What this study tells us is that having strong social relationships is of high importance for your heart health and similar to the role of classical protective factors such as having a healthy blood pressure, acceptable cholesterol levels, and a normal weight."

Professor Jöckel, one of the PI's of the HNR added, "This observation is of particular interest in the present discussion on the COVID-19 pandemia, where social contacts are or have been relevantly restricted in most societies."

During the 13.4 years of follow-up, 339 cardiovascular events such as heart attacks or strokes occurred, and there were 530 deaths among the study participants. After adjusting for (removing the influence of) other factors that might have contributed to these events and deaths (for example, standard cardiovascular risk factors), a lack of social integration was found to increase the future risk of cardiovascular events by 44% and to increase the risk of death from all causes by 47%, A lack of financial support was associated with a 30% increased risk of cardiovascular events.

"We don't understand yet why people who are socially isolated have such poor health outcomes, but this is obviously a worrying finding, particularly during these times of prolonged social distancing," said Dr Gronewold. "What we do know is that we need to take this seriously, work out how social relationships affect our health, and find effective ways of tackling the problems associated with social isolation to improve our overall health and longevity," said Prof Hermann.

NEWS RELEASE 20-MAY-2020

Legal Cannabis hemp oil effectively treats chronic neuropathic pain

UNM researchers demonstrate effectiveness of Cannabis oil for treating chronic neuropathic pain in mice

 

Researchers examine the effectiveness of consuming hemp oil extracted from the whole Cannabis plant using a chronic neuropathic pain animal model. Researchers at The University of New Mexico (UNM) showed that legal Cannabis hemp oil reduced mechanical pain sensitivity 10-fold for several hours in mice with chronic post-operative neuropathic pain.

Distinguished from its still largely criminally prohibited cousin, "hemp" refers to Cannabis plants with less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per mass. Hemp is now federally legal to produce and consume in most regions throughout the United States (U.S) as a result of the Hemp Farming Act, proposed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump in 2018.

This major breakthrough in cannabis prohibition now enables millions of Americans the ability to access a natural, effective, and relatively safe alternative option for treating chronic pain. Conventional pharmacological drugs, namely opioids, are driving the leading form of preventable deaths and conventional medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

The University of New Mexico has conducted a series of recent studies testing the effectiveness and safety of consuming the Cannabis plant, but this is the first study measuring the therapeutic potential of legal hemp oil with low THC levels.

"Cannabis plants with low THC are still psychoactive, but tend to result in less psychedelic experiences, while still offering profound and often immediate relief from symptoms such as pain, anxiety, and depression," says co-researcher, Dr. Jacob Miguel Vigil, associate professor in the UNM Psychology Department.

Using a chronic neuropathic pain model that exposes mice to post-operative neuropathic pain equivalent to several years of chronic pain in human clinical patients, the researchers were able to examine how hemp oil influences momentary pain sensitivity to the affected region. For several hours after Cannabis consumption the mice demonstrated effective pain relief, approaching the mechanical pain sensitivity of naïve control mice that did not undergo the surgical operation.

"Our lab utilizes a unique nerve injury model mimicking human neuropathic pain that has allowed demonstration of hemp's reversal of the pain related behavior" said one of the lead investigators, Dr. Karin N. Westlund, Department of Anesthesiology, their article titled "The Therapeutic Effectiveness of Full Spectrum Hemp Oil Using a Chronic Neuropathic Pain Model," published in the journal Life.

Studies in animals can be superior to clinical trials because they circumvent human biases and expectancy effects, or perceptual and cognitive reactions to enrollment in cannabis-themed experiments. Several studies measuring the effects of cannabis in humans observe patients reporting psychedelic experiences, whether or not they received the active cannabis agent, otherwise referred to as the 'placebo effect.'

The study examined the effectiveness of "LyFeBaak" hemp oil, produced by Organic-Energetic Solutions, which has been available for legal purchase in New Mexico since 2019. "We grow hemp that is optimized to potentiate the plants utmost health and vitality through hypermineralization techniques, rather than merely plants that are grown in a state of fight-or-flight, which unfortunately is common in the cannabis industry. These techniques have enabled us to produce hemp products that patients swear are effective for treating dozens of mental and physical health conditions. The new changes in hemp laws are now allowing us to test these claims," adds co-author and hemp grower, Anthony L. Ortiz.

"Hemp plants contain numerous therapeutic constituents that likely contribute to analgesic responses, including terpenes and flavonoids, which in theory, work together like members of a symphony, often described as the entourage effect," says fellow researcher, Jegason P. Diviant. Several clinical investigations have shown that medications based on synthetic cannabis analogues and isolated compounds tend to offer lower reported symptom relief and a greater number of negative side effects as compared to whole plant, or "full-spectrum" Cannabis flower and plant-based extracts.

The authors do caution that few studies exist on the long-term use of hemp oil, due mostly to historical federal prohibition laws in the U.S. "However, this is an extremely exciting time in modern medical discovery, because the average citizen now has legal access to a completely natural and effective medication that can be easily and cheaply produced, simply by sticking a seed in the ground and caring for it as you would any other important part of your life," says Vigil.

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This investigation was supported in part by private donations from individuals to The University of New Mexico Medical Cannabis Research

Ketogenic diets alter gut microbiome in humans, mice

Study suggests potential anti-inflammatory properties of ketone bodies via effects on gut microbial ecosystems

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA - SAN FRANCISCO

Low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diets, which have attracted public interest in recent years for their proposed benefits in lowering inflammation and promoting weight loss and heart health, have a dramatic impact on the microbes residing in the human gut, collectively referred to as the microbiome, according to a new UC San Francisco study of a small cohort of volunteer subjects. Additional research in mice showed that so-called "ketone bodies," a molecular byproduct that gives the ketogenic diet its name, directly impact the gut microbiome in ways that may ultimately suppress inflammation, suggesting evidence for potential benefits of ketone bodies as a therapy for autoimmune disorders affecting the gut.

In ketogenic diets, carbohydrate consumption is dramatically reduced in order to force the body to alter its metabolism to using fat molecules, rather than carbohydrates, as its primary energy source -- producing ketone bodies as a byproduct -- a shift that proponents claim has numerous health benefits.

"I got interested in this question because our prior research showed that high-fat diets induce shifts in the gut microbiome that promote metabolic and other diseases in mice, yet ketogenic diets, which are even higher in fat content, have been proposed as a way to prevent or even treat disease," said Peter Turnbaugh, PhD, a UCSF associate professor of microbiology and immunology, member of the UCSF Benioff Center for Microbiome Medicine and a Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Investigator. "We decided to explore that puzzling dichotomy."

In their new study, published May 20, 2020, in Cell, Turnbaugh and colleagues partnered with the nonprofit Nutrition Science Initiative to recruit 17 adult overweight or obese nondiabetic men to spend two months as inpatients in a metabolic ward where their diets and exercise levels were carefully monitored and controlled.

For the first four weeks of the study, the participants were given either a "standard" diet consisting of 50 percent carbs, 15 percent protein and 35 percent fat, or a ketogenic diet comprising 5 percent carbs, 15 percent protein and 80 percent fat. After four weeks, the two groups switched diets, to allow the researchers to study how shifting between the two diets altered participants' microbiomes.

Analysis of microbial DNA found in participants' stool samples showed that shifting between standard and ketogenic diets dramatically changed the proportions of common gut microbial phyla Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Firmicutes in participants' guts, including significant changes in 19 different bacterial genera. The researchers focused in on a particular bacterial genus -- the common probiotic Bifidobacteria -- which showed the greatest decrease on the ketogenic diet.

To better understand how microbial shifts on the ketogenic diet might impact health, the researchers exposed the mouse gut to different components of microbiomes of humans adhering to ketogenic diets, and showed that these altered microbial populations specifically reduce the numbers of Th17 immune cells -- a type of T cell critical for fighting off infectious disease, but also known to promote inflammation in autoimmune diseases.

Follow-up diet experiments in mice, in which researchers gradually shifted animals' diets between low-fat, high-fat and low-carb ketogenic diets, confirmed that high-fat and ketogenic diets have opposite effects on the gut microbiome. These findings suggested that the microbiome responds differently as the level of fat in the animals' diet increases to levels that promote ketone body production in the absence of carbs.

The researchers observed that that as animals' diets were shifted from a standard diet towards stricter carbohydrate restriction, their microbes also began shifting, correlated with a gradual rise in ketone bodies.

"This was a little surprising to me," Turnbaugh said. "As someone who is new to the keto field, I had assumed that producing ketone bodies was an all-or-nothing effect once you got to a low enough level of carb intake. But this suggests that you may get some of the effects of ketosis quite quickly."

The researchers tested whether ketone bodies alone could drive the shifts they had seen in the gut's microbial ecosystem by directly feeding ketone bodies to mice. They found that even in mice who were eating normal amounts of carbohydrates, the mere presence of added ketones was enough to produce many of the specific microbial changes seen in the ketogenic diet.

"This is a really fascinating finding because it suggests that the effects of ketogenic diets on the microbiome are not just about the diet itself, but how the diet alters the body's metabolism, which then has downstream effects on the microbiome," Turnbaugh said. "For many people, maintaining a strict low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet is extremely challenging, but if future studies find that there are health benefits from the microbial shifts caused by ketone bodies themselves, that could make for a much more palatable therapeutic approach."

NEWS RELEASE 26-MAY-2020

Exposure to 'good bacteria' during pregnancy buffers risk of autism-like syndrome

Study in rats suggests prenatal microbial exposures influence neurodevelopment

UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT BOULDER

Giving beneficial bacteria to stressed mothers during the equivalent of the third trimester of pregnancy prevents an autism-like disorder in their offspring, according to a new animal study by University of Colorado Boulder researchers.

The study, published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, marks the latest in a series of studies in animals and humans suggesting that exposure to certain immune-modulating microbes can dampen inflammation, positively impacting the brain and central nervous system.

It's among the first studies to suggest that such exposures during pregnancy influence neurodevelopment of a fetus and, while far more research is necessary, could open the door to new prenatal interventions.

"It suggests that you could develop microbial interventions that lower the risk of neurodevelopmental syndromes like autism," said co-author Christopher Lowry, an associate professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology.

In humans, research has long shown that maternal stress during pregnancy prompts systemic inflammation in both the mother and fetus and is a risk factor for autism, said senior author Daniel Barth, a professor of psychology and neuroscience.

In a previous study, Barth found that when rats were stressed and given a drug called terbutaline, which is often administered to women to delay preterm labor, their offspring demonstrated an autism-like syndrome - including the two hallmark features of social deficits and repetitive behavior. They also developed an epilepsy-like seizure disorder.

"Our fundamental question with this new study was whether we could use an immunoregulatory microbe to prevent the long-term consequences of environmental stressors during pregnancy," said first author Zachariah Smith, a post-doctoral researcher in Barth's lab.

For the study, the researchers exposed rats to mild stressors and gave them terbutaline during what would be the equivalent of the third trimester of pregnancy in humans.

Half were also given a series of injections of a heat-killed preparation of a friendly bacterium known as Mycobacterium vaccae (M. vaccae), shown in previous studies to have lasting anti-inflammatory effects on the brain. A third control group of rats got no treatments.

At two and four months, the pups were given a series of tests assessing, among other things, their degree of social interaction and whether they exhibited repetitive behaviors.

As in the previous study, those whose mothers had been stressed and given terbutaline showed autism-like behaviors. But those who had been immunized with M. vaccae did not.

"Immunization with M. vaccae appears to provide some protection against the negative effects of environmental stressors during development, specifically against Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)-like behavior," said Smith.

The inoculation did not appear to protect against development of seizure disorders. But because epilepsy tends to develop later in life, the researchers intend to repeat the experiment with a larger sample size and longer treatment period.

Autism and epilepsy often manifest together in humans, with about 30% of autistic individuals exhibiting epileptic symptoms, such as seizures. Stress-induced inflammation likely plays a role in both, the researchers suspect.

"It could be that if we continue the treatment for longer we could also prevent the development of some cases of epilepsy, but much more research is necessary," said Lowry.

The researchers caution that they are not developing an "autism vaccine" and they are not suggesting that microbial interventions could reverse the disorder in children who already have it. But their study does reinforce the idea that exposure to beneficial microorganisms, sometimes referred to as "old friends," can play a critical role in brain development in utero.

Ultimately, Lowry envisions a day when stressed moms deemed particularly high risk of having a child with a neurodevelopmental disorder could be given a specially formulated probiotic or inoculation to support healthy brain development of their child.

"This is the first maternal intervention that I know of that has been able to prevent an autism-like syndrome, including the behavioral and social aspects," Lowry said. "If this could be replicated in humans, that would be pretty profound."

Meantime, they say, mothers should be cognizant of the potential risks of emotional and environmental stressors, including the drug terbutaline, during pregnancy.

And they should try to expose themselves to beneficial bacteria, through fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut and even time spent in nature.

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NEWS RELEASE 28-MAY-2020

Beyond the garnish: Will a new type of produce get the microgreen light?

COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY

Microgreens. They're leafy green vegetables that are relatively new to the dining room, but a study by a Colorado State University team indicates that they will be welcome company at the table.

"You've probably heard of sprouts and baby greens," said lead researcher and registered dietitian nutritionist Sarah Ardanuy Johnson, an assistant professor and director of the Functional Foods & Human Health Laboratory in CSU's Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. "These are somewhere in the middle."

Microgreens are young and tender leafy greens of most vegetables, grains, herbs and flowers that are harvested when their first leaves appear. Their rapid maturity of a few weeks and affinity for controlled-environment agriculture (also known as indoor farming) means they use very little water and can be harvested quickly. It makes them a model of sustainability: They can be grown indoors, year-round, in cities and rural communities, in greenhouses, warehouses, vertical farms and even homes.

"I came across microgreens and had never heard of them before," said Johnson, who initially studied environmental science and ecology as an undergraduate before realizing her true academic passion was in nutrition and food science. "The need for our food to be more sustainable is greater than ever. I love the idea that they can be grown in an urban environment, indoors in big cities and smaller towns. We can't just grow everything in the soil outside anymore, and we need to conserve what natural resources we still have."

NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS

Johnson described them as leafy greens that pack a punch. They carry fewer food safety concerns than sprouts because they are grown in an environment with less moisture and, unlike sprouts, the roots of microgreens are removed during harvest. Nutritionally, they have been shown to have higher concentrations of phytochemicals and nutrients like beta-carotene (which can be converted to Vitamin A) than mature plants.

"Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of blindness worldwide," Johnson said, explaining that microgreens may become a key food source for preventing nutrient deficiencies and promoting global health and environmental sustainability. "That potential is pretty cool."

But she and her fellow researchers wanted to find out if microgreens are acceptable to consumers, and possible factors in how much consumers like or dislike them. They sought to understand if microgreens' appearance, taste and other considerations make them an appealing addition to people's plates. The answer? Signs point to more and more people exhibiting a microgreen palate.

Results of the study were published in March in the Journal of Food Science. Johnson's team surveyed 99 people about their reactions to six different types of microgreens: arugula, broccoli, bull's blood beet, red cabbage, red garnet amaranth and tendril pea. The microgreens were grown in the CSU Horticulture Center. The participants, who didn't know in advance what they would be trying, answered a variety of questions about things like flavor, aroma, texture and appearance.

'FUNFETTI'

"Some people call them 'vegetable confetti' or 'funfetti' because they're small, colorful and flavorful," Johnson said, adding that they have historically been used as a garnish or topping in restaurants.

The red-colored ones -- beet, cabbage and amaranth -- received top marks for appearance, but broccoli, red cabbage, and tendril pea got the highest grades overall. Arugula was ranked lowest, on average, likely due to its somewhat spicy and bitter flavor, although many people did like the taste. Overall, microgreens that rated highly for appearance, flavor and texture also scored lower on factors like astringency, bitterness, heat and sourness. Food neophobia, or the fear of trying new foods, was found to also be an important factor driving consumer acceptability.

"But they were all liked well enough that people said they would consume them and purchase them," Johnson said. "I feel like they should be used more as a vegetable and not just a garnish. That's part of the reason why I wanted to do this study."

INCREASING DEMAND

In fact, that was one of her key goals in launching the research: Can the appeal of microgreens lead to more popularity, more demand, more production and more grocery stores carrying them? Such products can be expensive due to markup and packaging.

"But people's mindsets are changing," Johnson said. "People don't want to buy something that's going to just end up in the landfill. They are looking for something that can benefit their health and the environment."

Participants said factors they would consider in buying microgreens included familiarity and knowledge, cost, access/availability and freshness/shelf-life.

For the research project, Johnson teamed up with Steven Newman, a professor and greenhouse crops specialist in CSU's Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. Johnson found him online in her quest to find a collaborator with expertise in greenhouse crops; Newman has provided leafy greens grown in the Horticulture Center to campus dining halls. Newman's team grew the microgreens used in the study with help from Johnson's team, in a classic example of the type of cross-disciplinary research that's on the rise at CSU.

"This has been a fun project with fruitful outcomes," Newman said. "This is how transdisciplinary research is supposed to work."

OTHER PARTNERS

Study co-author Marisa Bunning, a food science professor and Extension food safety specialist, has become a microgreens fan and now grows them at home. Laura Bellows, an associate professor with expertise in public health and health behaviors, helped assess factors contributing to consumer acceptability, such as food neophobia.

Other members of Johnson's team included Hanan Isweiri, Newman's former postdoctoral fellow; first author Kiri Michell, one of Johnson's graduate students; graduate student Michelle Dinges; undergraduate Lauren Grabos; Associate Professors Michelle Foster and Tiffany Weir of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition; Assistant Professors Adam Heuberger and Mark Uchanski, Associate Professor Jessica Prenni, and Professor Henry Thompson of the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture; and Assistant Professor Sangeeta Rao of the Department of Clinical Sciences.

Experts say that by 2050, there will be more than 10 billion people in the world to feed, making it more important than ever to think about ways to produce and grow nutritious food, as well as diversify the food supply in a sustainable way.

'Small but mighty'

"This was a very exciting, interdisciplinary study, and I am glad I was able to take part and help lead it," Michell said. "I look forward to more research regarding these small but mighty greens and their role in our food supply and on human health."

"I don't know that we could have done the advanced interdisciplinary research without Kiri's hard work and leadership," Johnson said. "But this was truly a team effort."

Michell noted that The Foundry dining hall on the CSU campus has started using microgreens in some of its dishes, and even has a viewing window where students can see them being grown.

The large collaboration aims to advance research on microgreens, and to increase knowledge of microgreens and their integration into the global food system. The group is conducting additional research, such as examining the feasibility, tolerability and potential health impacts of daily microgreen consumption at a higher dose (two cups per day, which is a typical serving size for leafy green vegetables), and comparing the nutritional value of microgreens to that of their more mature counterparts.

NEWS RELEASE 1-JUN-2020

Extra choline may help pregnant women decrease negative effects of COVID-19 on their newborns

Study recommends pregnant women should take choline during this coronavirus pandemic

UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO ANSCHUTZ MEDICAL CAMPUS

Pregnant women who take extra choline supplements may mitigate the negative impact that viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19, can have on their babies, according to a new study from researchers in the Departments of Psychiatry and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Choline is a vitamin B nutrient found in various foods and dietary supplements, and is critical to fetal brain development.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that COVID-19 will impact fetal brain development like other common corona respiratory viruses," said Robert Freedman, MD, professor of psychiatry at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus and lead researcher.

The new study, published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, specifically looked at whether higher prenatal choline levels can help protect the fetus's developing brain even if the mother contracts a viral respiratory infection in early pregnancy. The results reveal higher prenatal choline levels mitigate the fetal impact of virus infection.

"It's important for the healthcare community, and soon to be mothers, to be aware that a natural nutrient can be taken during pregnancy, just like folic acid and other prenatal vitamins, to protect fetuses and newborns from brain development issues. Later on in life, these development issues can lead to mental illness," Freedman adds.

In the study, researchers analyzed the effects on infant behavior if the mother had contracted a respiratory virus by measuring the infant's IBQ-R Regulation dimension - which looks at the development of infant attention and other self-regulatory behaviors. Lower IBQ-R Regulation at one year of age is associated with problems in attention and social behavior in later childhood, including decreased reading readiness at age four years and with problems in concentration, and conscientiousness in children through seven years of age.

The results from the study:

  • Infants of mothers who had viral infections and higher choline levels had significantly increased 3-month IBQ-R scores on the Regulation dimension and specifically the Attention scale in the Regulation dimension, compared to infants of mothers who had viral infections and had lower choline levels.
  • Choline levels sufficient to protect the fetus often require dietary supplements.
  • The increased maternal anxiety and depression in the viral-infected mothers were not associated with their infants' IBQ-R Regulation.

The study highlights that in conjunction with the CDC's current advice on COVID-19's effects in pregnancy, phosphatidylcholine or choline supplements along with other prenatal vitamins may help buffer the fetal brain from the possible detrimental impact of the current pandemic and decrease the risk of the children's future mental illness.

"Previous pandemics have resulted in significantly increased levels of mental illnesses including schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit disorder in the offspring," said Camille Hoffman, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. "However, since data from COVID-19 itself will not be available for years, we're hoping our study findings will provide valuable information for soon to be mothers on the importance of taking choline supplements daily during pregnancy."

NEWS RELEASE 4-JUN-2020

Probiotics with top-performing Lactobacillus strains may improve vaginal health

PLOS

Vaginal Lactobacillus bacterial strains largely perform better than strains currently used in probiotics for vaginal health, according to a study published June 4 in the open-access journal PLOS Pathogens by Jo-Ann Passmore of the University of Cape Town, and colleagues. The findings suggest that a vaginal health probiotic that includes top-performing vaginal Lactobacillus strains may improve treatment options for bacterial vaginosis.

Lactobacillus species in the lower reproductive tract of healthy women lower vaginal pH and protect against sexually transmitted infections. But women commonly suffer from bacterial vaginosis -- a disruption in the optimal Lactobacillus-dominated genital microbiota - resulting in higher vaginal pH as well as vaginal discharge and inflammation. Bacterial vaginosis is associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes and a higher risk of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Although antibiotics are the standard of care for bacterial vaginosis, most cases recur within six months. Probiotics that include Lactobacilli have been explored to improve the durability of treatment, but the majority of products do not contain species commonly found in the vagina. There is an urgent need for the development of additional well-designed probiotics for vaginal health.

In the new study, Passmore and colleagues compared 57 vaginal Lactobacillus strains from young African women to strains from commercial probiotic products for vaginal health. They analyzed their growth at varying pH values, ability to lower pH and produce antimicrobial products, pathogen inhibition, and susceptibility to antibiotics. Several vaginal strains exhibited better probiotic profiles than commercial strains, suggesting that they would be beneficial in the development of probiotic treatments for bacterial vaginosis. Moreover, whole-genome sequencing of the five best-performing vaginal strains revealed that they would likely be safe and not pose a risk of antimicrobial resistance. According to the authors, a wider range of well-characterized Lactobacillus-containing probiotics may improve treatment outcomes for bacterial vaginosis, and lower the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes and sexually transmitted infections.

"Few probiotics aimed at promoting vaginal health contain Lactobacillus spp. that commonly colonize the lower genital tracts of African women," the authors add. "The discovery and use of novel vaginal probiotic strains in such women may improve the durability of bacterial vaginosis treatments and towards this end Happel et al. (2020) evaluated a multitude of vaginal Lactobacillus strains and identified some that should be tested as vaginal probiotics in clinical trials in Africa."

 

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