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.
Resveratrol could help slow decline in lung function
February 27 2017. On January 19, 2017, the journal Thorax reported the finding of researchers at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ Saban Institute of a protective effect for inhalable resveratrol against aging-related degenerative lung changes. Resveratrol, an antioxidant compound occurring in red grapes and wine, has been associated with a number of benefits in animals and humans. "We believe that ours is the first study to demonstrate a beneficial effect of lung-directed resveratrol treatments on aging lung function," announced lead researcher Barbara Driscoll, PhD.
The study involved a mouse model of premature aging, including accelerated aging of the lung. Resveratrol or a control substance were intratracheally instilled monthly for three months. Lung structure, function, DNA damage and survival of alveolar epithelial type cells that line the lungs’ alveoli were evaluated one month following the final treatment.
Dr Driscoll’s team observed a slower rate of lung decline, including a delay in alveolar enlargement and alveolar epithelial type 2 cell DNA damage, among mice that received resveratrol. They suggest that administering resveratrol to the lungs could help treat lung aging, which increases the risk of chronic lung disease.
"While the natural deterioration of the human lung generally occurs over decades, the injury to lung cells is analogous to the lung cell damage that occurs in premature infants who experience respiratory distress before their lungs have fully developed," Dr. Driscoll noted. "Identifying a way to protect and strengthen young lungs before significant damage occurs is the goal of our research."
Vitamin B3 supplementation protects against glaucoma in mice
February 24 2017. An article appearing on February 17, 2017 in Science revealed a protective effect for niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, in mice genetically predisposed to develop glaucoma, a neurodegenerative disease characterized by increased pressure inside the eye and loss of retinal ganglion cells.
Jackson Laboratory Professor Simon W. M. John and colleagues observed that retinal levels of the compound nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) decline with age, which increases the susceptibility of aging neurons to insults. The decrease in NAD+ affects the reliability of neurons' energy metabolism, particularly in stressful conditions.
"We wanted to identify key age-related susceptibility factors that change with age in the eye, and that therefore increase vulnerability to disease and in particular neuronal disease," Dr John explained. "There's an analogy with an old motorbike. It runs just fine, but little things get less reliable with age. One day you stress it: you drive it up a steep hill or you go on really long journey and you get in trouble. It's less reliable than a new bike and it's going to fail with a higher frequency than that new bike."
By adding niacinamide, a precursor of NAD+, to the drinking water of glaucoma-prone mice, early signs of the disease were prevented. At the highest dose of the vitamin, 93% of eyes in the experiment failed to develop glaucoma. Supplementation with niacinamide also stopped the progression of the disease in old mice that had already developed glaucoma.
It was determined that vitamin B3 boosted aging retinal ganglion cells’ metabolic reliability, enabling them to stay healthy longer. "Because these cells are still healthy, and still metabolically robust, even when high intraocular pressure turns on, they better resist damaging processes," first author Pete Williams concluded.
Higher red blood cell omega 3 levels in women linked to lower risk of mortality over 14.9 year median follow-up
February 22 2017. A study published on January 12, 2017 in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology revealed a lower risk of death among women with higher red blood cell omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid levels over a 14.9 year median follow up period.
The research included 6,501 women who enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study beginning in 1996. Red blood cell polyunsaturated fatty acid levels, which included the omega 3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and their sum (the Omega 3 index) were measured upon enrollment. The women were followed through August 2014, during which time there were 1,851 deaths.
Women whose omega 3 levels were among the top 25% of subjects had a 20% lower risk of dying from any cause over follow-up compared with those whose levels were among the lowest 25%. Authors William S. Harris and colleagues estimated that an intake of approximately 1 gram EPA and DHA daily would be needed to increase omega 3 levels from the lowest to the highest 25%, an amount obtainable by consuming 1-3 softgels of an omega 3 supplement.
"This is the largest--but far from the only--study to confirm that blood levels of EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids, in this case the omega 3 index, are independent predictors of risk for death," Dr. Harris stated. "These findings support the view that higher EPA and DHA omega 3 levels are associated with better overall health."
Adam Ismail, who is the Executive Director of the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s, commented that "The results gathered over a 15-year period support the notion that adequate omega 3 intake is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, just like exercise and following a well-balanced diet."
Meta-analysis in leading psychology journal concludes benefit for B vitamins in schizophrenia
February 20 2017. A review and meta-analysis published on February 16, 2017 in Psychological Medicine confirms what orthomolecular physicians have been telling us for decades—that supplementation with B vitamins can improve the symptoms of schizophrenia. The meta-analysis is the first to be conducted on the subject of the effectiveness of B vitamin therapy for the disease.
For their research, Joseph Firth of the University of Manchester’s Division of Psychology and Mental Health and his colleagues selected 18 randomized controlled trials that evaluated the effects of vitamin and/or mineral supplements among a total of 832 patients receiving antipsychotic treatment for schizophrenia. The researchers determined that higher and combined doses of supplemental B vitamins, including vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and inositol, were associated with a greater reduction in symptoms than standard drug treatment alone. The vitamins appeared to be more effective when given earlier in the course of the disease.
"Looking at all of the data from clinical trials of vitamin and mineral supplements for schizophrenia to date, we can see that B vitamins effectively improve outcomes for some patients,” Dr Firth reported. "This could be an important advance, given that new treatments for this condition are so desperately needed."
"High-dose B vitamins may be useful for reducing residual symptoms in people with schizophrenia, although there were significant differences among the findings of the studies we looked at," he concluded. "There is also some indication that these overall effects may be driven by larger benefits among subgroups of patients who have relevant genetic or dietary nutritional deficiencies."
"These new findings also fit with our latest research examining how multi-nutrient treatments can reduce depression and other disorders,” added coauthor Jerome Sarris.
Meta-analysis concludes protective effect for vitamin D supplements against colds, flu
February 17 2017. The authors of a meta-analysis published on February 17, 2017 in the BMJ affirmed that, despite some previous conflicting study conclusions, supplementing with vitamin D is associated with a lower risk of influenza and colds. "This major collaborative research effort has yielded the first definitive evidence that vitamin D really does protect against respiratory infections,” announced first author Adrian Martineau of Queen Mary University of London. “Our analysis of pooled raw data from each of the 10,933 trial participants allowed us to address the thorny question of why vitamin D 'worked' in some trials, but not in others.
The meta-analysis included 25 randomized, double blind, placebo controlled trials that evaluated the effects of vitamin D2 or vitamin D3 supplementation on the risk of developing a cold or flu. The reduction in risk of acute respiratory infection associated with vitamin D was comparable to that of an influenza vaccine against flu risk. "The protective effects of vitamin D supplementation are strongest in those who have the lowest vitamin D levels, and when supplementation is given daily or weekly rather than in more widely spaced doses,” Dr Martineau reported.
"Vitamin D fortification of foods provides a steady, low-level intake of vitamin D that has virtually eliminated profound vitamin D deficiency in several countries,” he added. “By demonstrating this new benefit of vitamin D, our study strengthens the case for introducing food fortification to improve vitamin D levels in countries such as the UK where profound vitamin D deficiency is common."
"Most people understand that vitamin D is critical for bone and muscle health," stated senior author Carlos Camargo, MD, DrPH. "Our analysis has also found that it helps the body fight acute respiratory infection, which is responsible for millions of deaths globally each year."
Calorie restriction slows ribosome activity
February 15 2017. The February 1, 2017 issue of Molecular & Cellular Proteomics published the finding of John C. Price of Brigham Young University (BYU) and his colleagues of a mechanism for calorie restriction in slowing aging. The team discovered that eating less retards the production of proteins by the cells’ ribosomes which gives these organelles time to repair themselves. This process, in turn, slows some of the signs of aging.
"The ribosome is a very complex machine, sort of like your car, and it periodically needs maintenance to replace the parts that wear out the fastest," explained Dr Price, who is a biochemistry professor at BYU. "When tires wear out, you don't throw the whole car away and buy new ones. It's cheaper to replace the tires."
The discovery was an outcome of research involving calorie restricted and non-restricted mice. The research team was the first to demonstrate that general protein synthesis slows down during calorie restriction and to recognize the role of the ribosome in facilitating these biochemical changes. "When you restrict calorie consumption, there's almost a linear increase in lifespan," Dr Price remarked. "We inferred that the restriction caused real biochemical changes that slowed down the rate of aging."
"The calorie-restricted mice are more energetic and suffered fewer diseases," he observed. "And it's not just that they're living longer, but because they're better at maintaining their bodies, they're younger for longer as well."
"Food isn't just material to be burned -- it's a signal that tells our body and cells how to respond," Dr Price added. "We're getting down to the mechanisms of aging, which may help us make more educated decisions about what we eat."
Study helps explain omega-3 benefit in asthma
February 13 2017. An article appearing on February 9, 2017 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation--Insight explains the role of omega 3 fatty acids as specialized proresolving mediators (SPMs) in asthma and reveals how the fatty acids are less effective when the disease is treated with corticosteroid drugs.
“Recently, it was discovered that omega-3-derived SPMs are key mediators that possess proresolving activities,” Nina Kim and colleagues write. “Evidence supports the hypothesis that asthma represents, at least in part, a failure to resolve chronic inflammation, with an imbalance between proinflammatory and proresolving mediators.
The research team compared B cells in blood collected from 17 asthma patients to those of healthy donors. They determined that, while inflammation mediators derived from the omega 3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) lowered IgE (an antibody produced by B cells that plays a role in the inflammation that occurs in asthma), omega 3 was less effective among patients with severe asthma being treated with corticosteroids. Although the drugs are effective, it appears that they can, in some cases, interfere with the body’s natural ability to combat inflammation in asthma.
“In our study, we show that the DHA-derived mediators, 17-HDHA and RvD1, reduced spontaneous as well as stimulated IgE production in B cells from asthma patients with a broad spectrum of disease severity,” the authors write. “Our results suggest that specialized proresolving mediators are important potential therapeutics for most patients with allergic asthma. Further, our results highlight that immunosuppressive therapies like oral corticosteroids also suppress endogenous resolution pathways and suggest one method by which oral corticosteroids may actually exacerbate allergic diseases.”
How aspirin works against cancer
February 10 2017. Aspirin’s association with a lower risk of numerous types of cancer has been attributed to its anti-inflammatory effect; however, research reported in the February 2017 issue of Cancer Prevention Research suggestsanother potential mechanism.
In experiments utilizing colon cancer cells and a mouse model of colon cancer, Houston researchers observed that aspirin prevented the cancer-promoting interaction between cancer cells and platelets by inhibiting cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1)-mediated platelet activation. Platelets are involved in the formation of new blood vessels which, although beneficial in most cases, enhances tumor growth.
While common aspirin was used in some of the experiments, other experiments utilized a complex of aspirin with phosphatidylcholine, a lipid that occurs in lecithin. The combination, which is being developed under the name of Aspirin-PC/PL220 by a pharmaceutical company, has fewer gastrointestinal risks than regular aspirin, and in the current research, it was shown to have stronger anticancer effects.
"These results suggest that aspirin's chemopreventive effects may be due, in part, to the drug blocking the proneoplastic action of platelets and the potential use of Aspirin-PC/PL2200 as an effective and safer chemopreventive agent for colorectal cancer and possibly other cancers," authors Lenard M. Lichtenberger and colleagues conclude.
The researchers plan to evaluate the aspirin/phosphatidylcholine complex’s effects among those at high risk for colorectal cancer. While they state that their results "support the use of low-dose aspirin for chemoprevention," Dr Lichtenberger and colleagues note that the aspirin/phosphatidylcholine combination has "similar chemopreventive actions to low-dose aspirin and may be more effective."
Alpha-lipoic acid prevents kidney stone formation in experimental model
February 08 2017. A communication published online on February 6, 2017 in Nature Medicine found a role for the antioxidant compound alpha-lipoic acid in the prevention of kidney stones in a mouse model of cystinuria: an inherited disease that results in recurrent kidney stone formation.
In a collaboration between the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the Buck Institute, Tiffany Zee, PhD, and colleagues tested the effects of alpha-lipoic acid in mice bred to exhibit cystinuria, which is characterized by defective urinary reabsorption of the amino acid cystine, resulting in cystine-based stone formation. "The effects were dramatic and unprecedented in this field," reported senior coauthor Dr Pankaj Kapahi, of the Buck Institute. "We were able to prevent stones from developing in young animals, and we significantly slowed the development of stones in animals that were already exhibiting the condition. We are excited that these results are moving to a clinical trial."
"These patients are in desperate need of new options," added Marshall Stoller, MD, of UCSF's Department of Urology, who is also a senior coauthor. "The pain from passing kidney stones is intense and is comparable to vaginal childbirth, and many of these patients have to go through such an unanticipated episode every couple of months."
"Because it's an antioxidant, we thought the supplement would promote cystine metabolism in the mice," Dr Zee explained. "Surprisingly, that was not the case. Instead, we found that the supplement increased the solubility of the cystine stones, providing a new function for alpha-lipoic acid, one that should be of interest to other researchers."
"Our goal is to find the best way to exploit the benefits of alpha-lipoic acid, which means we need to drill down into the mechanisms involved in its activity,” coauthor Neelanjan Bose, PhD, concluded.
Grapes could help protect against cognitive decline
February 06 2017. The January 2017 issue of Experimental Gerontology published the finding of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles of a protective effect for powdered grape against a decline in brain metabolism in older adults. The results of the investigation suggest that eating grapes might contribute to the prevention of Alzheimer's disease.
The study included ten men and women with mild cognitive decline. Participants were given freeze-dried grape powder or a placebo similar in flavor and appearance but lacking beneficial grape polyphenols. The grape powders, which provided the equivalent of three servings of grapes per day, were mixed with water and consumed in divided daily doses for six months. Cognitive performance and changes in brain metabolism as assessed by PET scans were evaluated before and after the treatment period.
At the study's conclusion, participants who received the placebo experienced significant metabolic decline in areas of the brain affected during aging and in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, while no decline occurred in those who received grape polyphenols. The latter group also showed an increase in metabolism in areas of the brain that were associated with improvements in attention and working memory performance. "This pilot study contributes to the growing evidence that supports a beneficial role for grapes in neurologic and cardiovascular health, however more clinical studies with larger groups of subjects are needed to confirm the effects observed here,” commented lead researcher Daniel H. Silverman.
“To our knowledge, this is the first application of brain PET to individuals following a dietary regimen of grape supplementation for a sustained period,” the authors announce. “Future studies with greater number of subjects, grape supplementation for longer periods, and longer follow-up after end of supplementation to test durability of effects, will be of significant interest.”
Vitamin C associated with decrease in postoperative atrial fibrillation
February 03 2017. The results of a systemic review and meta-analysis published on February 1, 2017 in BMC Cardiovascular Disorders reveal an association between supplementation with vitamin C and a reduction in postoperative atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disturbance that can lead to stroke and heart failure which affects approximately 30% of cardiac surgery patients. The analysis also found a reduction in the length of hospital stay among vitamin C-treated patients.
Harri Hemilä of the University of Helsinki and Timo Suonsyrjä of Helsinki University Central Hospital reviewed 14 randomized trials involving a total of 2006 cardiac surgery patients and one trial that investigated atrial fibrillation recurrence following successful cardioversion (correction of cardiac arrhythmia) in 44 patients. The majority of trials administered vitamin C before and after surgery.
Nine trials, which were conducted outside of the US, revealed a risk of postoperative atrial fibrillation that averaged 44% lower among treated compared to untreated patients. Additionally, length of hospital stay was decreased by 12.6% and time spent in the intensive care unit was reduced by 8% in vitamin C treated patients in non-U.S. trials. In the trial that examined the effect of vitamin C following cardioversion, there was an 87% reduction in atrial fibrillation recurrence in association with treatment.
While intravenous vitamin C was associated with a 36% decrease in postoperative atrial fibrillation, orally administered vitamin C was associated with a 73% reduction compared with untreated subjects. However, intravenously administered vitamin C was associated with a shorter hospital stay.
“Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that is safe and inexpensive,” the authors write. “Further research is needed to determine the optimal dosage protocol and to identify the patient groups that benefit the most.”
Supplement combo improves bone density, mood, in postmenopausal women
February 01 2017. A randomized, double blind trial reported on January 26, 2017 in the journal Aging found benefits for a combination of melatonin, strontium citrate, vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 in postmenopausal women with osteopenia (subnormal bone density), a precursor to osteoporosis.
Eleven women received a placebo and an equal number received 5 milligrams (mg) melatonin, 450 mg strontium, 2000 international units vitamin D3 and 60 micrograms K2 (a combination designated as MSDK) nightly for one year. Bone mineral density, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and C-reactive protein (CRP, a marker of inflammation) levels were measured at the beginning and end of the study. Bone turnover rate was assessed by the evaluation of serum markers in blood samples collected at baseline and months 6 and 12.
At the trial's conclusion, those who received the nutritional supplements experienced a 4.3% average increase in bone mineral density in the lumbar spine, a 2.2% increase in femoral neck density and a trend toward an increase in total left hip density, along with an elevation in a marker of bone formation and a reduction in bone turnover in comparison with the placebo group. Mood and quality of sleep also improved among those who received the nutrients, and CRP levels significantly declined. Ten year vertebral fracture risk probability declined by 6.48% among the group that received the nutrients, while increasing by 10.8% among those who received a placebo.
“Based on the fact that MSDK treatment did not completely inhibit osteoclastogenesis, we conclude that MSDK is favoring bone remodeling to proceed towards equilibrium by allowing osteoclastogenesis to some extent,” the authors write. “These findings provide both clinical and mechanistic support for the use of MSDK for the prevention or treatment of osteopenia, osteoporosis or other bone‐related diseases.”