News flashes are posted here frequently to keep you up-to-date with the latest advances in health and longevity. We have an unparalleled track record of breaking stories about life extension advances.
Lower mortality in heart failure trial patients given CoQ10
August 30 2017. A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials concluded that supplementation with coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) was associated with a lower risk of mortality and better exercise capacity during the course of the trials. The results were reported on July 24, 2017 in BMC Cardiovascular Disorders.
“Our research is the newest meta-analysis that analyzes the efficacy of coenzyme Q10 in heart failure patients,” authors L. Lei of Yulin Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital and Y. Liu of Yulin Second Hospital in Yulin, China announce.
For their analysis, Drs Lei and Liu selected 14 randomized trials that compared the effects of CoQ10 to a placebo among a total of 2,149 heart failure patients. Over the course of the trials, 55 participants who received CoQ10 and 83 placebo subjects died, resulting in a 31% lower risk of mortality among those who were given CoQ10.
In four trials that reported the endpoint of exercise capacity, participants who received CoQ10 experienced greater improvement in this area compared to the placebo group. No significant differences were observed between the groups in left heart ejection fraction (a determinant of systolic heart failure severity) and New York Heart Association cardiac function classification.
“Supplementary oral administration of coenzyme Q10 has been found to increase coenzyme Q10 levels in plasma, platelets, and white blood cells,” the authors observe. “Studies also evidenced that the concentration of coenzyme Q10 in the plasma of patients with heart failure is an independent predictor of heart failure death.”
“Conducting more rigorous, large-sample, international trials is needed to confirm our results,” they conclude.
Antioxidant supplements effective and affordable option for wet macular degeneration
August 28 2017. An article that appeared on August 23, 2017 in the British Journal of Ophthalmology concluded that supplementing with antioxidant nutrients is effective and affordable for individuals with neovascular (“wet”) age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The wet form of AMD is characterized by the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina that can leak and damage the eyes’ macula, which is responsible for central vision.
For the current study, Adnan Tufail of Moorfields Eye Hospital National Health Service Trust in London and colleagues sought to evaluate the cost effectiveness of two supplement formulas used in the Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) among patients with intermediate (AREDS category 3) age-related macular degeneration in both eyes or neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AREDS category 4) in one eye. One supplement contained vitamins C and E, zinc, copper and beta carotene; the second contained vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, lutein and zeaxanthin.
Their analysis determined that both formulas are cost effective for treating patients with early stage wet AMD, and were most cost effective for those with the condition in one eye. Patients who received the nutrients would need almost 8 fewer injections of currently used anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) therapies, which are costly and associated with potential side effects. Treated patients would also experience an increase in quality-adjusted life years compared to untreated patients.
"Given the burden and cost of treatment, prevention of neovascular AMD seems, therefore, an attractive strategy to avoid the chronic and costly anti-VEGF therapies and preserve visual function," the authors write. "AREDS supplements are a dominant cost-effective intervention for category 4 AREDS patients, as they are both less expensive than standard care and more effective, and therefore should be considered for public funding."
Increased risk of heart failure associated with deficient levels of vitamin D
August 25 2017. An article appearing on August 17, 2017 in ESC Heart Failure reported the finding of a strong association between increased heart failure risk and vitamin D deficiency among an older group of men and women.
For the current cross-sectional epidemiological study, researchers at Brazil’s Federal University of Pernambuco analyzed medical records from 137 subjects aged 60 years and older who were seen at cardiology outpatient clinics. Deficient vitamin D levels, defined as 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels less than 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), were revealed among 65% of the subjects.
Among vitamin D-deficient subjects, 78.7%, had an increased risk of heart failure as determined by Health and Aging and Body Composition Heart Failure scores that put them at medium, high, or very high risk in comparison with normal risk. “The increased risk of heart failure in this study was present in more than half of the elderly and was significantly associated with vitamin D deficiency (increasing by 12.2 times the risk of heart failure) and may be due to inflammatory mechanisms,” authors Catarina Magalhães Porto and colleagues reported.
“Based on the evidence presented in this study, which is supported by the literature, the high percentage of elderly individuals with vitamin D deficiency and its consequences for increased risk of heart failure suggest a need of dosage recommendations for this vitamin, especially in primary healthcare services,” they conclude. “The facility of quantifying vitamin D, the low cost of its supplementation, and the possibility of preventing and treating cardiovascular diseases point to the need for more studies on the supplementation with vitamin D in prospective cohort, so that the conduct of supplementation is implanted with a solid base of evidence.”
Testosterone replacement therapy associated with improved urinary, sexual function
August 23 2017. An article appearing on July 18, 2017 in the Journal of Urology documents improvements in sexual function, urinary function and quality of life among men who received testosterone replacement therapy.
The prospective registry study involved 656 men with low testosterone levels and symptoms of testosterone deficiency, among whom 360 were regularly treated with parenteral testosterone undecanoate for up to 10 years. The remainder of the subjects, who chose not to be treated with testosterone, received biannual routine clinic visits.
The researchers, from Boston University School of Medicine and School of Public Health in collaboration with German urologists, found that men who received testosterone therapy experienced significant decreases in their International Prostate Symptom Score, post-voiding bladder volume and Aging Males Symptoms scale, which assesses health-related quality of life. The percentage of patients without erectile dysfunction significantly improved in the testosterone treated group, from 17.1% at the beginning of the study, to 74.4% of the study at the last visit. In contrast, subjects who did not receive the hormone experienced deterioration in erectile function as well as in voiding functions. Prostate specific antigen (PSA), a marker which, when elevated, is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer, remained unchanged in both groups over the course of the study.
While there were five deaths, 8 nonfatal strokes and 8 nonfatal heart attacks over the 8-month median follow-up period in the untreated group, none of these events occurred among those who received testosterone.
“Long-term testosterone therapy, in men with testosterone deficiency, was well tolerated with excellent adherence suggesting a high level of patient satisfaction,” authors Karim Sultan Haider and colleagues conclude. “A progressive and sustained improvement in urinary and sexual function was recorded in men receiving long-term testosterone therapy, contributing to overall improvement in quality of life.”
Quercetin plus dasatinib shows promise for bone maintenance
August 21 2017. An article appearing August 21, 2017 in Nature Medicine reveals a potential role for senolytic compounds, including quercetin and the drug dasatinib, in the targeting of senescent cells to help maintain bone. "While we know from previous work that the accumulation of senescent cells causes tissue dysfunction, the role of cell senescence in osteoporosis up to this point has been unclear," noted researcher Sundeep Khosla, MD, of the Mayo Clinic's Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging. "The novelty of this work for the bone field lies in the fact that, rather than targeting a bone-specific pathway, as is the case for all current treatments for osteoporosis, we targeted a fundamental aging process that has the potential to improve not only bone mass, but also alleviate other age-related conditions as a group."
The team targeted senescent cells in aged mice with bone loss by several methods, including quercetin plus dasatinib, a genetic model, and a drug that blocks the activity of Janus kinase enzymes to eliminate senescent cell byproducts. "The effects of all three approaches on aging bone were strikingly similar," Dr Khosla reported. "They all enhanced bone mass and strength by reducing bone resorption but maintaining or increasing bone formation, which is fundamentally different from all current osteoporosis drugs."
Dr Khosla’s team determined that the senolytic drugs were only effective when intermittently administered. Dasatinib and quercetin were only given monthly to eliminate senescent cells. "Even though this senolytic drug combination was only present in the mice for a couple of hours, it eliminated senescent cells and had a long-lasting effect," noted co-corresponding author James Kirkland, MD, PhD. "This is another piece of the mounting evidence that senolytic drugs are targeting basic aging processes and could have widespread application in treating multiple chronic diseases."
Resveratrol supplementation improves arterial stiffness in type 2 diabetics
August 18 2017. A randomized, double-blind study reported on August 3, 2017 in the International Heart journal found improvements in arterial stiffness and oxidative stress among type 2 diabetics who were supplemented with resveratrol.
The trial included 50 diabetic men and women who received 100 milligrams resveratrol or a placebo daily for 12 weeks. Cardio-ankle vascular index (CAVI, a novel diagnostic measure of arterial stiffness that is a marker of atherosclerosis) and blood pressure were assessed at the beginning and end of the study, in addition to blood assessments of oxidative stress and other factors.
At the end of the study, subjects who received resveratrol had significantly lower blood pressure, less oxidative stress and decreased arterial stiffness in comparison with values obtained at the beginning of the study. Participants who received a placebo experienced no significant changes in these areas.
“The primary finding in the present study was that oral supplementation of resveratrol for 12 weeks decreased CAVI in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus,” authors Haruki Imamura, MD, and colleagues at Toho University Sakura Medical Center in Japan write. “Many previous studies have demonstrated increased CAVI in atherosclerotic diseases such as acute coronary syndrome and stroke, and these reports indicate that CAVI reflects organic atherosclerosis.”
They suggest that a reduction in oxidative stress may be one mechanism involved in the improvement in arterial stiffness observed in this study among participants who received resveratrol. Improved endothelial function via increased nitric oxide production may be another mechanism.
“Resveratrol may be beneficial in preventing the development of atherosclerosis induced by diabetes,” the authors conclude. “However, a large-scale cohort study is required to validate the present findings.”
Calorie restricted diet rejuvenates biologic clock
August 11 2017. The August 10, 2017 issue of Cell reported an ability for calorie restriction to prevent the impact of aging on circadian rhythms. “The process of aging and circadian rhythms are intimately intertwined, but how peripheral clocks involved in metabolic homeostasis contribute to aging remains unknown,” the authors write in their introductory remarks.
For the current investigation, researchers at the University of California, Irvine fed calorie restricted or unrestricted diets to young and old mice. At 6 and 18 months, liver tissue samples were analyzed.
Although calorie restriction did not affect the 24-hour cycle of the older group’s circadian-controlled metabolic system, older cells showed signs of inefficient energy processing. "This mechanism works great in a young animal, but it basically shuts off in an old mouse," explained lead researcher Paolo Sassone-Corsi.
In older animals given calorie restricted diets, cellular energy processing was improved. "In fact, caloric restriction works by rejuvenating the biological clock in a most powerful way," Dr Sassone-Corsi observed.
A companion study reported in the same issue of Cell evaluated circadian rhythms in skin stem cells from the young and old mice. The researchers also found a benefit for a calorie restricted diet. "The low-calorie diet greatly contributes to preventing the effects of physiological aging," commented coauthor Salvador Aznar Benitah. "Keeping the rhythm of stem cells 'young' is important because in the end these cells serve to renew and preserve very pronounced day-night cycles in tissue. Eating less appears to prevent tissue aging and, therefore, prevent stem cells from reprogramming their circadian activities."
"These studies also present something like a molecular holy grail, revealing the cellular pathway through which aging is controlled," Dr Sassone-Corsi stated. "The findings provide a clear introduction on how to go about controlling these elements of aging in a pharmacological perspective."
Metformin underused by prediabetics
August 9 2017. An article appearing on August 12, 2017 in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association reported the results of an update to an analysis of per-capita total direct health system costs for the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) and the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study (DPPOS) published by the Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group in 2012. The current investigation, conducted by researchers at the University of South Florida in Tampa, concluded that prescribing metformin to individuals with prediabetes could result in an annual $820 million in health care cost savings. “Metformin is generally more cost-saving for diabetes-prevention than previously reported due to decreasing health-system cost for patients to acquire metformin,” lead author Nick Carris, PharmD, and colleagues note.
While lifestyle changes, including improved diet and activity levels, are recommended for those with prediabetes, these measures often fail to be adopted by those with the condition. If untreated, 70% of prediabetic patients will progress to diabetes.
Metformin, a drug that improves insulin sensitivity, is used by only 0.7% of those with prediabetes. Dr Carris, who is an assistant professor at the University of South Florida College of Pharmacy, has suggested that 41 million patients with prediabetes who are under the age of 60 years should be prescribed metformin, which could result in a 20% decline in US diabetes diagnoses. "The data are clear,” Dr Carris stated. “Metformin is underused and that represents a missed opportunity in addressing the diabetes epidemic, and as we reaffirmed, to reduce healthcare cost."
"The next step is figuring out systematic ways of starting metformin safely, in right the patients, and without increasing other healthcare costs,” he added.
Supplemental folic acid lowers LDL, homocysteine in type 2 diabetics
August 7 2017. A trial reported in the August 2017 issue of Nutrition Research and Practice resulted in improvement in homocysteine and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, as well as other factors in postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes. Having a high level of homocysteine, a toxic byproduct of metabolism, is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease in type 2 diabetic patients.
“Folic acid supplementation may improve the cardiovascular health of postmenopausal women with diabetes,” authors Aswathy Vijayakumar of Ewha Woman’s University and colleagues remark in their introduction. “In particular, folic acid supplementation has been shown to reduce homocysteine levels and improve vascular health in different study populations.”
The trial included 25 diabetic Korean women between the ages of 56 to 74 years with serum homocysteine levels of at least 10 micromoles per liter. The women received 400 micrograms folic acid twice per day for 8 weeks. Brachial ankle pulse wave velocity (a measure of arterial stiffness) was assessed, and blood samples were analyzed for serum folate, vitamin B12 and homocysteine, as well as lipids and fasting blood glucose before and after the treatment period.
At the study’s conclusion, the participants’ serum folate and vitamin B12 were significantly increased and homocysteine levels decreased on average by 22.2%. The number of subjects whose homocysteine levels were 15 micromoles per liter or higher declined from 9 to 3 following supplementation. In addition, LDL cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol/high density lipoprotein cholesterol and total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratios were significantly lower after 8 weeks. Higher vitamin B12 levels at the end of the study were associated with lower pulse wave velocity.
“In conclusion, folic acid supplementation might be beneficial for reducing homocysteine levels and decreasing lipid parameters in postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes mellitus,” the authors conclude.
RNA research holds promise for diseases of aging
August 4 2017. A Research Letter published in the August 8, 2017 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology documents the discovery of John P. Cooke and colleagues of an ability to induce cells to produce telomerase, an enzyme that can extend the length of telomeres, via a technique known as RNA therapeutics. Telomeres are segments of genetic material that cap and protect the ends of the cells’ chromosomes. Telomeres shorten during aging and in age-related diseases.
Dr Cooke’s team investigated the technique in fibroblasts derived from patients with progeria, a disorder of accelerated aging that occurs in children. The disease is associated with accelerated telomere erosion. By delivering RNA that encodes telomerase to the cells, telomerase was produced and the cells lived longer. "What was most unexpected about our work was the dramatic effect the telomere-extending technology had on the cells," Dr Cooke reported. "We were not expecting to see such a dramatic effect on the ability of the cells to proliferate. They could function and divide more normally, and we gave them extra lifespan, as well as better function."
"We all have telomere erosion over time, and many of the things that happen to these children at an accelerated pace occur in all of us," Dr Cooke explained. "What we've shown is that when we reverse the process of the telomere shortening in the cells from these children and lengthen them, it can reverse a lot of the problems associated with aging."
"As a physician, many of the diseases I see are due to aging. It's a major risk factor for heart and vascular diseases," Dr Cooke said. "About a third of the people in this country succumb to strokes and heart attacks. If we can fix that, we'll fix a lot of diseases."
Vitamin E may help protect the unborn from lasting abnormalities
August 2 2017. If findings from a study conducted in zebrafish are an indication, prenatal vitamin E deficiency could result in lasting impairments to metabolism and behavior. The finding was reported in the September 2017 issue of Free Radical Biology and Medicine.
Maret G. Traber and colleagues at Oregon State University maintained adult zebrafish on vitamin E deficient or sufficient diets and examined their embryos up to 12 days after fertilization. They found an increase abnormalities and mortality, and altered DNA methylation through the fifth post-fertilization day in embryos of fish that received deficient diets in comparison with those that received an adequate amount of vitamin E. (It takes five days for a fertilized zebrafish egg to become a swimming fish.)
When the normal-appearing fish in either group were given diets that were vitamin E adequate for the following 7 days, all experienced normal growth; however, those that developed from vitamin E deficient embryos continued to have behavioral deficits, low vitamin E levels, and elevated lipid peroxidation. Further investigation revealed dysregulation of the cellular antioxidant network. "They managed to get through the critical period to get the brain formed, but they were stupid and didn't learn and didn't respond right," Dr Traber reported. "They had so much oxidative damage they essentially had a screwed-up metabolism. These outcomes suggest embryonic vitamin E deficiency in zebrafish causes lasting impairments that aren't resolved via later dietary vitamin E supplementation.”
"It takes a while to get vitamin E into the brain to protect it, and this has me concerned about teenage girls who eat inadequate diets and get pregnant," she remarked. "It's the secondary ripples of having inadequate vitamin E that are really causing the problems, and it takes a fair amount of time to correct all of those things that go wrong."