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January 2002


Oral supplementation with whey proteins increases plasma glutathione levels of HIV-infected patients.

HIV infection is characterized by an enhanced oxidant burden and a systemic deficiency of the tripeptide glutathione (GSH), a major antioxidant. The semi-essential amino acid cysteine is the main source of the free sulfhydryl group of GSH and limits its synthesis. Therefore, different strategies to supplement cysteine supply have been suggested to increase glutathione levels in HIV-infected individuals. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of oral supplementation with two different cysteine-rich whey protein formulas on plasma GSH levels and parameters of oxidative stress and immune status in HIV-infected patients. In a prospective double blind clinical trial, 30 patients (25 male, 5 female; mean age (+/- SD) 42 +/- 9.8 years) with stable HIV infection (221 +/- 102 CD4 + lymphocytes L-1) were randomized to a supplemental diet with a daily dose of 45 g whey proteins of either Protectamin (Fresenius Kabi, Bad Hamburg, Germany) or Immunocal (Immunotec, Vandreuil, Canada) for two weeks. Plasma concentrations of total, reduced and oxidized GSH, superoxide anion (O2-) release by blood mononuclear cells, plasma levels of TNF-alpha and interleukins 2 and 12 were quantified with standard methods at baseline and after therapy. Pre-therapy, plasma GSH levels (Protectamin: 1.92 +/- 0.6 microM; Immunocal: 1.98 +/- 0.9 microM) were less than normal (2.64 +/- 0.7 microM, P = 0.03). Following two weeks of oral supplementation with whey proteins, plasma GSH levels increased in the Protectamin group by 44 +/- 56% (2.79 +/- 1.2 microM, P = 0.004) while the difference in the Immunocal group did not reach significance (+ 24.5 +/- 59%, 2.51 +/- 1.48 microM, P = 0.43). Spontaneous O2- release by blood mononuclear cells was stable (20.1 +/- 14.2 vs. 22.6 +/- 16.1 nmol h-1 10-6 cells, P = 0.52) whereas PMA-induced O2- release decreased in the Protectamin group (53.7 +/- 19 vs. 39.8 +/- 18 nmol h-1 10-6 cells, P = 0.04). Plasma concentrations of TNF-alpha and interleukins 2 and 12 (P > 0.08, all comparisons) as well as routine clinical parameters remained unchanged. Therapy was well tolerated. In glutathione-deficient patients with advanced HIV-infection, short-term oral supplementation with whey proteins increases plasma glutathione levels. A long-term clinical trial is clearly warranted to see if this “biochemical efficacy” of whey proteins translates into a more favourable course of the disease.

Eur J Clin Invest 2001 Feb;31(2):171-8

Lactokinins: whey protein-derived ACE inhibitory peptides.

Angiotensin-I-converting enzyme (ACE) has been classically associated with the renin-angiotensin system which regulates peripheral blood pressure. Peptides derived from the major whey proteins, i.e. alpha-lactalbumin (alpha-la) and beta-lactoglobulin (beta-lg) in addition to bovine serum albumin (BSA), inhibit ACE. Some of these inhibitory peptides, i.e. alpha-lactorphin (alpha-la f(50-53)), beta-lactorphin (beta-lg f(102-105)), beta-lactotensin (beta-lg f(146-149) and albutensin A (BSA f(208-216)), have other bioactivities. The most potent lactokinin reported to date, (beta-lg f(142-148)), has an ACE IC50 of 42.6 mumol/l. While they do not have the inhibitory potency of synthetic drugs commonly used in the treatment of hypertension, these naturally occurring peptides may represent nutraceutical/functional food ingredients for the prevention/treatment of high blood pressure. Studies with gastric and pancreatic proteinase digests of whey proteins indicate that enzyme specificity rather than extent of hydrolysis dictates the ACE inhibitory potency of whey hydrolysates.

Nahrung 1999 Jun;43(3):165-7

Nutritional therapy of chronic hepatitis by whey protein (non-heated).

In an open study the clinical efficacy of milk serum (whey) protein (Immunocal; cysteine content: 7.6-fold higher than that of casein) isolated from fresh milk and purified without heating was evaluated in 25 patients with chronic hepatitis B or C. Immunocal (12 g as protein) food (mousse) was given twice a day, in the morning and evening, for 12 weeks (test period). Casein (12 g as protein) food (mousse) was similarly given for two weeks prior to the start of the supplement with Immunocal food (induction period) and for four weeks after the end of the supplement with Immunocal food (follow-up period). Serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activity was reduced, and plasma glutathione (GSH) levels increased in six and five of eight patients with chronic hepatitis B, respectively, 12 weeks after the start of the supplement with Immunocal food. Serum lipid peroxide levels significantly decreased, and interleukin (IL)-2 levels and natural killer (NK) activity significantly increased. However, there were no significant Immunocal-related changes in 17 patients with chronic hepatitis C. These findings suggest that the long-term supplement with Immunocal alone may be effective for improving liver dysfunctions in patients with chronic hepatitis B.

J Med 2000;31(5-6):283-302

The bovine protein alpha-lactalbumin increases the plasma ratio of tryptophan to the other large neutral amino acids, and in vulnerable subjects raises brain serotonin activity, reduces cortisol concentration, and improves mood under stress.

BACKGROUND: Increased brain serotonin may improve the ability to cope with stress, whereas a decline in serotonin activity is involved in depressive mood. The uptake of the serotonin precursor, tryptophan, into the brain is dependent on nutrients that influence the cerebral availability of tryptophan via a change in the ratio of plasma tryptophan to the sum of the other large neutral amino acids (Trp-LNAA ratio). Therefore, a diet-induced increase in tryptophan availability may increase brain serotonin synthesis and improve coping and mood, particularly in stress-vulnerable subjects. OBJECTIVE: We tested whether alpha-lactalbumin, a whey protein with a high tryptophan content, may increase the plasma Trp-LNAA ratio and reduce depressive mood and cortisol concentrations in stress-vulnerable subjects under acute stress. DESIGN: Twenty-nine highly stress-vulnerable subjects and 29 relatively stress-invulnerable subjects participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Subjects were exposed to experimental stress after the intake of a diet enriched with either alpha-lactalbumin or sodium-caseinate. Diet-induced changes in the plasma Trp-LNAA ratio and prolactin were measured. Changes in mood, pulse rate, skin conductance, and cortisol concentrations were assessed before and after the stressor. RESULTS: The plasma Trp-LNAA ratio was 48% higher after the alpha-lactalbumin diet than after the casein diet (P = 0.0001). In stress-vulnerable subjects this was accompanied by higher prolactin concentrations (P = 0.001), a decrease in cortisol (P = 0.036), and reduced depressive feelings (P = 0.007) under stress. CONCLUSIONS: Consumption of a dietary protein enriched in tryptophan increased the plasma Trp-LNAA ratio and, in stress-vulnerable subjects, improved coping ability, probably through alterations in brain serotonin.

Am J Clin Nutr 2000 Jun;71(6):1536-44

Effect of supplementation with a cysteine donor on muscular performance.

Oxidative stress contributes to muscular fatigue. GSH is the major intracellular antioxidant, the biosynthesis of which is dependent on cysteine availability. We hypothesized that supplementation with a whey-based cysteine donor [Immunocal (HMS90)] designed to augment intracellular GSH would enhance performance. Twenty healthy young adults (10 men, 10 women) were studied presupplementation and 3 mo postsupplementation with either Immunocal (20 g/day) or casein placebo. Muscular performance was assessed by whole leg isokinetic cycle testing, measuring peak power and 30-s work capacity. Lymphocyte GSH was used as a marker of tissue GSH. There were no baseline differences (age, ht, wt, %ideal wt, peak power, 30-s work capacity). Follow-up data on 18 subjects (9 Immunocal, 9 placebo) were analyzed. Both peak power [13 +/- 3.5 (SE) %, P < 0.02] and 30-s work capacity (13 +/- 3.7%, P < 0.03) increased significantly in the Immunocal group, with no change (2 +/- 9.0 and 1 +/- 9.3%) in the placebo group. Lymphocyte GSH also increased significantly in the Immunocal group (35.5 +/- 11.04%, P < 0.02), with no change in the placebo group (-0.9 +/- 9.6%). This is the first study to demonstrate that prolonged supplementation with a product designed to augment antioxidant defenses resulted in improved volitional performance.

J Appl Physiol 1999 Oct;87(4):1381-5

New biological function of bovine alpha-lactalbumin: protective effect against ethanol- and stress-induced gastric mucosal injury in rats.

Although several studies have shown that milk protein components have a wide range of biological activities, the potential role of these proteins in the gastrointestinal mucosal defense system is less well elucidated. In this study, we investigated the effect of the major proteins in cow’s milk on gastric mucosal injury by using two acute ulcer models in Wistar rats. Gastric mucosal injury was induced by either intragastric 60% ethanol-HCl or water-immersion restraint stress (23 degrees C, 7 h). Each test milk protein was orally administered 30 min before the induction of gastric injury. Among the major milk proteins, alpha-lactalbumin (alpha-LA) is demonstrated to have a marked protective effect against ethanol-induced gastric injury, with the same potency as that of the typical antiulcer agent, Selbex. Whey protein isolate (WPI), which contained 25% alpha-LA, also protected against gastric injury, while casein showed no effect. Comparative studies on the protective effect of the four major components of WPI, beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-LA, bovine serum albumin and gamma-globulins (immunoglobulins), on the basis of their contents in WPI revealed that alpha-LA was responsible for the protective effect of WPI, being about 4-fold more effective than WPI itself. Alpha-LA showed dose-dependent protection against gastric injury induced by stress as well as ethanol. Pretreatment with indomethacin (10 mg/kg body weight, s.c.), which is a potent inhibitor of endogenous prostaglandin synthesis, resulted in a significant reduction in the protective effect of alpha-LA. These results indicate that alpha-LA has marked antiulcer activity as an active component of cow’s milk protein, and suggest that alpha-LA intake may serve to protect against gastric mucosal injury, in part through endogenous prostaglandin synthesis.

Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 2001 May;65(5):1104-11

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