Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Oct 2000

Vitamin B12, HRT, Lactoferrin, CR, more

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, on January 2021.


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Nutritional and botanical interventions to assist with the adaptation to stress

Prolonged stress, whether a result of mental/emotional upset or due to physical factors such as malnutrition, surgery, chemical exposure, excessive exercise, sleep deprivation, or a host of other environmental causes, results in predictable systemic effects. The systemic effects of stress include increased levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, a decline in certain aspects of immune system function such as natural killer cell cytotoxicity or secretory-IgA levels, and a disruption of gastrointestinal microflora balance. These systemic changes might be a substantial contributor to many of the stress-associated declines in health. Based on human and animal research, it appears a variety of nutritional and botanical substances—such as adaptogenic herbs, specific vitamins including ascorbic acid, vitamins B1 and B6, the coenzyme forms of vitamin B5 (pantethine) and B12 (methylcobalamin), the amino acid tyrosine, and other nutrients such as lipoic acid, phosphatidylserine, and plant sterol/sterolin combinations—may allow individuals to sustain an adaptive response and minimize some of the systemic effects of stress.

Altern Med Rev 1999 Aug;4(4):249-65

Methylcobalamin decreases mRNA levels of androgen-induced growth factor in androgen-dependent Shionogi carcinoma 115 cells

Methylcobalamin (MeCbl) is an important enzyme cofactor required for methionine synthase activity. It also inhibits, in a dose-dependent manner, the proliferation of an androgen-dependent cell line, SC-3, derived from an androgen-dependent mouse mammary tumor (Shionogi carcinoma 115). In SC-3 cells, androgen induces the production of androgen-induced growth factor (AIGF), an autocrine growth factor increasing the proliferation of SC-3 cells. MeCbl treatment suppressed the androgen-induced, AIGF-mediated growth of SC-3 cells, as well as the androgen-induced increase of AIGF mRNA. In SC-3 cells, androgen receptors linked with androgen form complexes that tightly bind DNA and act as transcription factors in the nucleus to regulate the expression of specific genes such as AIGF. The number and dissociation constants of androgen receptors in control and MeCbl-treated SC-3 cells were the same. Similarly, the extent of binding of normal androgen receptors in nuclei from control and MeCbl-treated cells was virtually identical. The androgen receptors from control and MeCbl-treated cells showed similar capacities for conversion to a form that tightly binds to DNA on heat activation. These results suggest that the reduction of AIGF mRNA, subsequent to the nuclear binding of androgen receptors, may be a partial cause of the growth-inhibitory activity of MeCbl in SC-3 cells.

Nutr Cancer 1999;35(2):195-201

Can reduced folic acid and vitamin B12 levels cause deficient DNA methylation producing mutations which initiate atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis of the vascular system has classically been attributed to elevated serum cholesterol concentrations. Recently, it has been found that reduced serum levels of folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6 are related to the etiology of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. These deficiencies lead to inadequate production of S-adenosyl-methionine, creating a condition of hypomethylation. It is hypothesized that this causes hypomethylation of the DNA in cells in the arterial intima resulting in mutation and proliferation of smooth-muscle cells which lead to the formation of atheroma. It is further hypothesized that such action can be reversed by supraphysiological doses of these three vitamins to reduce or remove existing atheroma. It is recommended that all patients suffering from atherosclerosis and having deficiencies of any of these three vitamins and/or an elevation of serum homocysteine receive supplementation to prevent worsening of their condition.

Med Hypotheses 1999 Nov;53(5):421-4

What level of plasma homocyst(e)ine should be treated? Effects of vitamin therapy on progression of carotid atherosclerosis in patients with homocyst(e)ine levels above and below 14 micromol/L

High levels of plasma homocyst(e)ine (H[e]) are associated with increased vascular risk. Treatment is being contemplated, but the level at which patients should be treated is not known. We compared the response of carotid plaque to vitamin therapy in patients with H(e) above and below 14 micromol/L, a level commonly regarded as high enough to warrant treatment. Two-dimensional B-mode ultrasound measurement of carotid plaque was used to assess the response to vitamin therapy with folic acid 2.5 mg, pyridoxine 25 mg, and cyanocobalamin 250 microg daily, in 101 patients with vascular disease (51 with initial plasma levels above, and 50 below 14 micromol/L). Among patients with plasma H(e) >14 micromol/L, the rate of progression of plaque area was 0.21 +/- 0.41 cm2/year before vitamin therapy, and -0.049 +/- 0.24 cm2/year after vitamin therapy (P2 = .0001; paired t test). Among patients with levels <14 micromol/L, the rate of progression of plaque was 0.13 +/- 0.24 cm2/year before vitamin therapy and -0.024 +/- 0.29 cm2/year after vitamin therapy (P2 = .022, paired t test). The change in rate of progression was -0.15 +/- .44 cm2/year below 14 micromol/L, and -0.265 +/- 0.46 cm2/year above 14 micromol/L (P = 0.20). Vitamin therapy regresses carotid plaque in patients with H(e) levels both above and below 14 micromol/L. These observations support a causal relationship between homocyst(e)ine and atherosclerosis and, taken with epidemiologic evidence, suggest that in patients with vascular disease, the level to treat may be <9 micromol/L.

Am J Hypertens 2000 Jan;13(1 Pt 1):105-10

Vitamin B 12 deficiency in the aged

A COMMON CONDITION: Vitamin B12 deficiency is common in the elderly. Search for deficiency should be undertaken whenever the clinical situation could lead to vitamin deficiency whether macrocytic anemia is present or not as its development may come late. PATHOPHYSIOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS: The potential relationships between degenerative neuropsychiatric disorders and cerebrovascular or cardiovascular disease, mainly via hyperhomocysteinemia, emphasize the importance of searching for vitamin B12 deficiency in the elderly. SPECIFIC CAUSES: In the elderly, it is important to recognize specific causes of vitamin B12 deficiency, mainly resulting from vitamin malabsorption.

Presse Med 1999 Oct 23;28(32):1767-70

Vitamin B12 deficiency in the elderly

Vitamin B12 deficiency is estimated to affect 10%-15% of people over the age of 60, and the laboratory diagnosis is usually based on low serum vitamin B12 levels or elevated serum methylmalonic acid and homocysteine levels. Although elderly people with low vitamin B12 status frequently lack the classical signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, e.g. megaloblastic anemia, precise evaluation and treatment in this population is important. Absorption of crystalline vitamin B12 does not decline with advancing age. However, compared with the younger population, absorption of protein-bound vitamin B12 is decreased in the elderly, owing to a high prevalence of atrophic gastritis in this age group. Atrophic gastritis results in a low acid-pepsin secretion by the gastric mucosa, which in turn results in a reduced release of free vitamin B12 from food proteins. Furthermore, hypochlorhydria in atrophic gastritis results in bacterial overgrowth of the stomach and small intestine, and these bacteria may bind vitamin B12 for their own use. The ability to absorb crystalline vitamin B12 remains intact in older people with atrophic gastritis. The 1998 recommended daily allowance for vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms, but elderly people should try to obtain their vitamin B12 from either supplements or fortified foods (e.g. fortified ready-to-eat breakfast cereals) to ensure adequate absorption from the gastrointestinal tract. Because the American food supply is now being fortified with folic acid, concern is increasing about neurologic exacerbation in individuals with marginal vitamin B12 status and high-dose folate intake.

Annu Rev Nutr 1999;19:357-77

Plasma homocysteine is a sensitive marker for tissue deficiency of both cobalamines and folates in a psychogeriatric population

The concentration of blood folates was decreased and the concentration of plasma homocysteine was increased in a psychogeriatric population, whereas the concentrations of methylmalonic acid or serum cobalamins were not changed compared with healthy subjects. The highest frequency of abnormal values was shown by plasma homocysteine concentration, which was increased in 88 of 168 patients. In 29 of these 88 patients increased concentration of plasma homocysteine could possibly be attributed to tissue cobalamin deficiency. One patient had only a lowered concentration of blood folate. Thirteen patients had elevated concentrations of serum creatinine which could explain increased plasma homocysteine concentration. Even if the remaining patients (n = 45) had normal vitamin levels in circulation, the increased plasma homocysteine concentration in most cases must be attributed to tissue deficiency of cobalamins and/or folates. Thus, many patients with increased plasma homocysteine concentrations need further vitamin supplementation despite their normal vitamin levels in serum and blood.

Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 1999 Nov-Dec;10(6):476-82



Use of HRT and the subsequent risk of cancer

At least 20 million women in developed countries are estimated to be currently using hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Almost 100 epidemiological studies have reported on the relationship between the use of HRT and the risk of cancer of female reproductive organs, namely the breast, uterus or ovary. Cancer at these sites is common and there are a priori reasons why the use of hormonal therapy to 'replace' the endogenous production of ovarian hormones after the menopause might increase the risk of these cancers. The available evidence indicates that the risk of breast cancer or endometrial cancer is increased while women are using HRT, the risk increasing with increasing duration of use. Most of the evidence about these cancers relates to use of HRT preparations containing oestrogens alone. The limited evidence about combination therapy, with oestrogens and progestogens, suggests that, compared to oestrogens alone, the effect on the breast is similar, but the effect on the endometrium is diminished, the diminution in risk being greater the more days each month that progestogens are used. The effect of HRT on breast cancer wears off after use ceases and has disappeared largely, if not wholly, within 5 years, whereas the effects on endometrial cancer take longer to wear off, if at all. The breast and endometrial cancers that are diagnosed in HRT users are less aggressive clinically than cancers in never-users but, as yet, there is little reliable information about the relationship between use of HRT and mortality from these cancers. For other cancer sites, the existing data about the effects of HRT are inconclusive. The longer the period of use of HRT, the greater the excess incidence of cancer of the breast and endometrium is likely to be. Use of HRT for short periods of time should have little effect on the incidence of these cancers. The cumulative excess incidence in 1000 women who used HRT for 10 years, beginning at age 50, is estimated to be six for breast cancer, 42 for endometrial cancer in women with an intact uterus using oestrogen therapy alone and about 20 for endometrial cancer in women with an intact uterus using oestrogen-progestogen combinations. The estimate for combined therapy is based on small numbers and may well vary with the type of preparation used. The overall balance between the excess incidence of these cancers and other effects of HRT needs to be evaluated carefully and will require more reliable data than exist at present.

J Epidemiol Biostat 1999;4(3):191-210; discussion 210-5

Breast cancer diagnosed during hormone replacement therapy

OBJECTIVE: Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is associated with decreased breast cancer mortality despite increased incidence. We studied postmenopausal breast cancer patients to determine whether this paradox results from earlier diagnosis, biologically less aggressive tumors, or cessation of hormonal stimulation. METHODS: Demographic, clinical, pathologic, treatment, and outcome information for 455 postmenopausal breast cancer patients who had not used postmenopausal hormones was compared with that of 47 breast cancer patients who used postmenopausal hormones prior to diagnosis. RESULTS: Hormone users were significantly younger, more often white, and of lower body mass index than nonusers. Hormone users presented significantly more often with nonpalpable mammographic findings, resulting in significantly smaller tumors with less nodal involvement than nonusers. Cancers of hormone users were more commonly invasive lobular or in situ ductal and were more likely to be steroid receptor positive. Hormone users were treated with breast conservation significantly more frequently than nonusers. These differences persisted after matching for age and year of surgery and after controlling for race. At 5 years, none of the hormone users with invasive cancers had local recurrence compared with 8% of nonusers, and 7% of users had distant disease compared with 10% of nonusers. CONCLUSION: These results indicate that favorable breast cancer survival after postmenopausal hormone use might result from earlier detection through mammography. Possible hormonal influence on tumor biology and prognosis was not supported by our data.

Obstet Gynecol 2000 Apr;95(4):513-8

Randomized trial of estrogen plus progestin for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease in postmenopausal women. Heart and Estrogen/progestin Replacement Study (HERS) Research Group

CONTEXT: Observational studies have found lower rates of coronary heart disease (CHD) in postmenopausal women who take estrogen than in women who do not, but this potential benefit has not been confirmed in clinical trials. OBJECTIVE: To determine if estrogen plus progestin therapy alters the risk for CHD events in postmenopausal women with established coronary disease. DESIGN: Randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled secondary prevention trial. SETTING: Outpatient and community settings at 20 US clinical centers. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 2763 women with coronary disease, younger than 80 years, and postmenopausal with an intact uterus. Mean age was 66.7 years. INTERVENTION: Either 0.625 mg of conjugated equine estrogens plus 2.5 mg of medroxyprogesterone acetate in 1 tablet daily (n = 1380) or a placebo of identical appearance (n = 1383). Follow-up averaged 4.1 years; 82% of those assigned to hormone treatment were taking it at the end of 1 year, and 75% at the end of 3 years. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome was the occurrence of nonfatal myocardial infarction (MI) or CHD death. Secondary cardiovascular outcomes included coronary revascularization, unstable angina, congestive heart failure, resuscitated cardiac arrest, stroke or transient ischemic attack, and peripheral arterial disease. All-cause mortality was also considered. RESULTS: Overall, there were no significant differences between groups in the primary outcome or in any of the secondary cardiovascular outcomes: 172 women in the hormone group and 176 women in the placebo group had MI or CHD death (relative hazard [RH], 0.99; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.80-1.22). The lack of an overall effect occurred despite a net 11% lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level and 10% higher high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level in the hormone group compared with the placebo group (each P<.001). Within the overall null effect, there was a statistically significant time trend, with more CHD events in the hormone group than in the placebo group in year 1 and fewer in years 4 and 5. More women in the hormone group than in the placebo group experienced venous thromboembolic events (34 vs 12; RH, 2.89; 95% CI, 1.50-5.58) and gallbladder disease (84 vs 62; RH, 1.38; 95% CI, 1.00-1.92). There were no significant differences in several other end points for which power was limited, including fracture, cancer, and total mortality (131 vs 123 deaths; RH, 1.08; 95% CI, 0.84-1.38). CONCLUSIONS: During an average follow-up of 4.1 years, treatment with oral conjugated equine estrogen plus medroxyprogesterone acetate did not reduce the overall rate of CHD events in postmenopausal women with established coronary disease. The treatment did increase the rate of thromboembolic events and gallbladder disease. Based on the finding of no overall cardiovascular benefit and a pattern of early increase in risk of CHD events, we do not recommend starting this treatment for the purpose of secondary prevention of CHD. However, given the favorable pattern of CHD events after several years of therapy, it could be appropriate for women already receiving this treatment to continue.

JAMA 1998 Aug 19;280(7):605-13

Breast-cancer risk following long-term oestrogen- and oestrogen-progestin-replacement therapy

While use of hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) effectively alleviates menopausal symptoms and prevents osteoporosis and possibly cardiovascular disease, there is concern of a detrimental impact on breast-cancer risk. There is a particular lack of data regarding the effect of long-term use of oestrogen-progestin combinations on breast-cancer risk. We conducted a large epidemiological study in Sweden, where combined oestrogen-progestin treatment has been predominant, to examine the influence of different regimens of menopausal hormone therapy on breast-cancer risk. In this population-based case-control study, 3,345 women aged 50 to 74 years with invasive breast cancer (84% of all eligible) and 3,454 controls of similar age (82% of all selected) were included. Mailed questionnaires and telephone interviews were used to collect detailed information on use of hormone replacement and on potential confounding factors. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated through multiple logistic regression. There was a trend of increasing breast-cancer risk with duration of oestrogen/oestrogen-progestin use (OR for women treated at least 10 years, 2.43; 95% CI, 1.79-3.30, as compared to never-users), with statistically significant estimates only for women with BMI<27 kg/m2. Excess risks were observed to current use and use that ceased more than 10 years ago (OR for women treated at least 5 years, OR was 2.68, 95% CI, 2.09-3.42, and OR 2.57, 95% CI, 1.28-5.15, as compared with never-users, respectively). A positive association which was noted for use of oestrogen combined with testosterone-derived progestins appeared especially pronounced with continuously combined regimens. Long-term use of replacement oestrogens with or without progestins may substantially increase the incidence of post-menopausal breast cancer, particularly among non-obese women.

Int J Cancer 1999 May 5;81(3):339-44

Risks of breast and endometrial cancer after estrogen and estrogen-progestin replacement

OBJECTIVE: We studied the risk of breast and endometrial cancer in a cohort of 11,231 Swedish women prescribed different replacement hormone regimens. METHODS: All 10,472 women at risk of developing breast cancer and 8,438 women at risk of endometrial cancer were followed up from the time of the questionnaire in 1987-88 through 1993, by record-linkages to the National Swedish Cancer Registry. Using data from a questionnaire we analyzed the relationships between hormone exposures and cancer risk, with non-compliers and users of less than 1 year as a reference group. RESULTS: For breast cancer, women reporting use of estrogens combined with progestins had evidence of an increased risk relative to women denying intake or taking hormones for less than 1 year; relative risk (RR) = 1.4 (95% confidence interval 0.9-2.3) after 1-6 years of intake, and RR = 1.7 (95% CI 1.1-2.6) after more than 6 years. This excess risk seemed confined to recent exposure. We found no association with intake of estrogens alone using non-compliers and short-term takers as the reference group. The risk of invasive endometrial cancer was increased four-fold in women using medium-potency estrogens alone for 6 years or longer, RR = 4.2 (95% CI 2.5-8.4). Women on such long-term progestin-combined treatment had a lower, non-significant, excess risk (RR = 1.4; 95% CI 0.6-3.3). CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that long-term recent use of estrogen-progestin combined replacement therapy may increase the risk of breast cancer. Exposure to estrogen alone substantially elevates the risk of endometrial cancer, an increase that can be reduced or perhaps avoided by adding progestins.

Cancer Causes Control 1999 Aug;10(4):253-60

Menopausal estrogen and estrogen-progestin replacement therapy and breast cancer risk

CONTEXT: Whether menopausal hormone replacement therapy using a combined estrogen-progestin regimen increases risk of breast cancer beyond that associated with estrogen alone is unknown. OBJECTIVE: To determine whether increases in risk associated with the estrogen-progestin regimen are greater than those associated with estrogen alone. DESIGN: Cohort study of follow-up data for 1980-1995 from the Breast Cancer Detection Demonstration Project, a nationwide breast cancer screening program. SETTING: Twenty-nine screening centers throughout the United States. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 46355 postmenopausal women (mean age at start of follow-up, 58 years). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Incident breast cancers by recency, duration, and type of hormone use. RESULTS: During follow-up, 2082 cases of breast cancer were identified. Increases in risk with estrogen only and estrogen-progestin only were restricted to use within the previous 4 years (relative risk [RR], 1.2 [95% confidence interval [CI], 1.0-1.4] and 1.4 [95% CI, 1.1-1.8], respectively); the relative risk increased by 0.01 (95% CI, 0.002-0.03) with each year of estrogen-only use and by 0.08 (95% CI, 0.02-0.16) with each year of estrogen-progestin-only use among recent users, after adjustment for mammographic screening, age at menopause, body mass index (BMI), education, and age. The P value associated with the test of homogeneity of these estimates was .02. Among women with a BMI of 24.4 kg/m2 or less, increases in RR with each year of estrogen-only use and estrogen-progestin-only use among recent users were 0.03 (95% CI, 0.01-0.06) and 0.12 (95% CI, 0.02-0.25), respectively. These associations were evident for the majority of invasive tumors with ductal histology and regardless of extent of invasive disease. Risk in heavier women did not increase with use of estrogen only or estrogen-progestin only. CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that the estrogen-progestin regimen increases breast cancer risk beyond that associated with estrogen alone.

JAMA 2000 Jan 26;283(4):485-91

Risk of endometrial cancer following estrogen replacement with and without progestins

BACKGROUND: Unopposed estrogen replacement therapy (i.e., estrogen without progestins) increases the risk of endometrial cancer. In this study, we examined the endometrial cancer risk associated with combined estrogen-progestin regimens currently in use, since the safety profiles of these regimens have not been clearly defined. METHODS: We conducted a nationwide population-based, case-control study in Sweden of postmenopausal women aged 50-74 years. We collected information on use of hormone replacement from 709 case patients with incident endometrial cancer and from 3368 control subjects. We used unconditional logistic regression to calculate odds ratios (ORs) as estimates of relative risks. All individual comparisons were made with women who never used the respective hormone replacement regimens. RESULTS: Treatment with estrogens alone was associated with a marked duration- and dose-dependent increase in the relative risk of endometrial cancer. Five or more years of treatment had an OR of 6.2 for estradiol (95% confidence interval [CI] = 3.1-12.6) and of 6.6 for conjugated estrogens (95% CI = 3.6-12.0). Following combined estrogen-progestin use, the association was considerably weaker than that for estrogen alone; the OR was 1.6 (95% CI = 1.1-2.4) after 5 or more years of use. This increase in risk was confined to women with cyclic use of progestins, i.e., fewer than 16 days per cycle (most commonly 10 days per cycle [OR = 2.9; 95% CI = 1.8-4.6 for 5 or more years of use]), whereas continuous progestin use along with estrogens was associated with a reduced risk (OR = 0.2; 95% CI = 0.1-0.8 for 5 or more years of use). CONCLUSION: The risk of developing endometrial cancer is increased after long-term use of estrogens without progestins and with cyclically added progestins. Continuously added progestins may be needed to minimize the endometrial cancer risk associated with estrogen replacement therapy.

J Natl Cancer Inst 1999 Jul 7;91(13):1131-7



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Effects of orally administered bovine lactoferrin on the immune system of healthy volunteers

A protective effect of bovine lactoferrin (Lf) during lethal bacteraemia has been reported in mice. Also, protective effects of orally administered bovine Lf have been reported in cases of intractable stomatitis in cats and Cryptocaryon irritans infection in red sea bream. In this study, we examined the effects of orally administered bovine Lf on the immune system of healthy volunteers. Ten healthy male volunteers (age range of 31 to 55 years old) were given bovine Lf (2 g/body/day) for 4 weeks. Blood samples were drawn before, during and after administration of Lf. Phagocytic activity and superoxide production activity of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) were evaluated from the number of PMN phagocytizing polymer particles and by the dichlorofluorescein (DCFH) oxidation assay, respectively. The expression levels of CD11b, CD16 and CD56 molecules on leukocytes were quantified using flow cytometry. The phagocytic activity of PMN increased during the period of Lf administration in 3 of the 10 volunteers. In 2 of the 3 volunteers in which the phagocytic activity increased, PMN expressed CD16 at higher levels corresponding to the increase in 3 of the 10 volunteers, whereas the CD11b+ lymphocytes and CD56+ lymphocytes increased in 4 volunteers including the same 3 volunteers who showed an increase in CD16+. These results suggest that the proportion of natural killer (NK) cells among the lymphocytes might have increased in these subjects. It was demonstrated that the phagocytic activity or superoxide production activity of PMN or the proportions of CD11b+, CD16+ and CD56+ in lymphocytes was influenced by Lf administration in 7 of the 10 volunteers, while the effects of Lf on the immune system differed in individual cases. These results suggest that Lf administration may influence primary activation of the host defense system.

Adv Exp Med Biol 1998;443:261-5

The gut-a key metabolic organ protected by lactoferrin during experimental systemic inflammation in mice

The gastrointestinal tract may be viewed as an ecologic system in which a balance between the host and bacterial flora exists. Two major host components appear to be involved in maintaining this balance. The first is a non-specific structural barrier provided by the epithelial layer of the gastrointestinal mucosae. The second component involves functional immunological elements found in the mucosal and submucosal compartments, e.g., gut associated lymphoid tissue. When gut integrity is disrupted by invasive pathogens or by trauma, a myriad of pro-inflammatory mediators are released from cells in the gut wall that exert actions in the tissue or gut lumen. One of these mediators is lactoferrin, and iron binding protein found in high concentration in most human exocrine secretions. Despite controversies on its physiological role, evidence is emerging that lactoferrin plays an important role in host defense against toxic metabolites and antigenic components of potential pathogens2-4. This manuscript is intended to provide an overview of work related to lactoferrin's modulatory roles in inflammation, and to present observations from experimental studies on the preservation of intestinal structure and function by lactoferrin during intestinal inflammation. The possibility that lactoferrin limits the autodestructive inflammatory responses presents a new alternative for the future management of systemic inflammation.

Adv Exp Med Biol 1998;443:167-73

Impairment of circulating lactoferrin in HIV-1 infection

Levels of plasma lactoferrin are decreased in HIV-1-infected patients in relation to the progression of the disease. Plasma lactoferrin concentrations were determined using a specific and sensitive enzyme immunoassay. 97 plasma were studied (22 asymptomatic, 45 symptomatic patients compared to 30 healthy controls) and the results showed a highly significant decrease (p < 0.001) of the level of lactoferrin in HIV-1-infected patients (respectively 2.79 +/- 1.2 and 0.68 +/- 0.22 micrograms/ml) compared to controls (4.37 +/- 0.83 micrograms/ml). Since it is well established that plasma lactoferrin level could be influenced by the number of neutrophils, the experiments were reproduced in neutropenic patients who represent 10% of recruitment (6 among 45 symptomatic patients). The plasma from neutropenic symptomatic patients (neutrophils < or = 1,300/mm3) showed their mean lactoferrin level at 0.36 micrograms/ml still far above the normal values. In view of the different reported biological effects of lactoferrin that are of great importance in the non-specific defences, the real biological place of the lack of such a molecule could be one important component of the multifactorial nature of HIV-1 infection.

Cell Mol Biol (Noisy-le-grand) 1995 May;41(3):417-21

Antiviral effect of bovine lactoferrin saturated with metal ions on early steps of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection

Lactoferrin is a mammalian iron-binding glycoprotein present in many biological secretions, such as milk, tears, semen and plasma and a major component of the specific granules of polymorphonuclear leucocytes. The effect of bovine lactoferrin (BLf) in apo-form or saturated with ferric, manganese or zinc ions, on human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection in the C8166 T-cell line was studied. Both HIV-1 replication and syncytium formation were efficiently inhibited, in a dose-dependent manner, by lactoferrins. BLf in apo and saturated forms markedly inhibited HIV-1 replication when added prior to HIV infection or during the virus adsorption step, thus suggesting a mechanism of action on the HIV binding to or entry into C8166 cells. Likewise, the addition of Fe3+BLf prior to HIV infection and during the attachment step resulted in a marked reduction of the HIV-1 DNA in C8166 cells 20 h after infection. The potent antiviral effect and the high selectivity index exhibited by BLf suggest for this protein, in apo or saturated forms, an important role in inhibiting the early HIV-cell interaction, even though a post adsorption effect cannot be ruled out.

Int J Biochem Cell Biol 1998 Sep;30(9):1055-62

Inhibitory effects of bovine lactoferrin on intestinal polyposis in the Apc(Min) mouse

Chemopreventive effects of bovine lactoferrin (bLF), previously shown to strongly inhibit intestinal carcinogenesis in rats (K. Sekine, E. Watanabe, J. Nakamura, N. Takasuka, D.J. Kim, M. Asamoto, V. Krutovskikh, T.H. Baba, T. Ota, M.A. Moore, M. Masuda, H. Sugimoto, H. Nishino, T. Kakizoe, H. Tsuda, Inhibition of azoxymethane-initiated colon tumor by bovine lactoferrin administration in F344 rats, Jpn. J. Cancer Res. 88 (1997) 523-526; K. Sekine, Y. Ushida, T. Kuhara, M. Iigo, H. Baba-Toriyama, M.A. Moore, M. Murakoshi, Y. Satomi, H. Nishino, T. Kakizoe, H. Tsuda, Inhibition of initiation and early stage development of aberrant crypt foci and enhanced natural killer activity in male rats administered bovine lactoferrin concomitantly with azoxymethane, Cancer Lett. 121 (1997) 211-216), on spontaneous intestinal polyp development were assessed in the ApcMin mouse, a model for both familial adenomatous polyposis and sporadic colon cancers. In the experiment, 54 mice at 6 weeks of age were given 2% bLF (15 mice), 0.2% bLF (15 mice) and AIN-93G (24 mice) as basal diet ad libitum for 8 weeks. An overall tendency for a reduction in the total number of polyps in the small intestine was evident in the bLF-treated animals, along with significant suppression in the jejunum at the 2% dose (P < 0.05, 68% of the control). In addition, body growth suppression, presumed to be due to anemia and/or intussusception as a consequence of numerous polyps in the intestine, was alleviated. No toxic effects were observed in the intestinal epithelium. Although not as obvious as observed for the rat case, the data suggest that bLF may be a chemopreventor of intestinal polyposis.

Cancer Lett 1998 Dec 25;134(2):141-5

Antiviral activity of lactoferrin

A series of native and chemically derivatized lactoferrins (Lfs) purified from milk and colostrum were assayed in vitro for their anti-HIV and anti-HCMV-cytopathic effects in MT4 cells and fibroblasts respectively. All Lfs from bovine and human milk or colostrum were able to completely block HCMV replication as well as inhibited HIV-1 induced cytopathic effects. Through acylation of the amino function of the lysine residues in Lf, using anhydrides of succinic acid or cis-aconitic acid, negatively charged Lf derivatives were obtained that all showed a strong antiviral activity against the HIV-1 in vitro. Acylated-Lf exhibited a 4-fold stronger antiviral effect on HIV-1 than the parent compound but the activity on HCMV was abolished. Peptide scanning studies indicated that the native Lf as well as acylated Lf strongly bind to the V3 domain of the HIV envelope protein gp120, with Kd values in the same concentration range as the in vitro IC50. Therefore, shielding of this domain, resulting in inhibition of the virus-cell fusion and entry of the virus in MT4 cells is the likely mechanism underlying the anti-HIV activity. In contrast, addition of positive charges to Lf through amination of the proteins resulted in an increased anti-HCMV activity and a loss of anti-HIV activity, with anti-HCMV IC50 values in the low micromolar concentration range. The N-terminal portion of LF appeared essential to this anti-HCMV effect. The specific distribution of positively and negatively charged domains in the molecule appears to be important in both the anti-HIV and anti-HCMV effects.

Adv Exp Med Biol 1998;443:205-13

Nonspecific oral immunity in individuals with HIV infection

Lactoferrin, lysozyme, interferon, and neopterin levels were determined in parotid saliva from 44 individuals with different clinical stages of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and 19 HIV-seronegative controls. The secretory output of individual components was calculated according to the fluid flow rate. No parotid interferon activity was found in any of the HIV-infected subjects or controls, and no significant differences in parotid lysozyme or neopterin outputs were observed. The lactoferrin output was significantly decreased in HIV-seropositive subjects in parallel with their markedly reduced parotid secretory IgA output. This combined deficiency of parotid lactoferrin and secretory IgA may well contribute to the frequent oral infections seen in subjects with HIV infection.

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 1992;5(1):46-51


Insulin exposure and unifying aging

BACKGROUND: Absence of a widely agreed upon central paradigm for mammalian aging. OBJECTIVE: Detailed elaboration of a proposed mammalian aging paradigm. METHODS: Elaboration of a new theoretical model. RESULTS: Hormonal imbalance-growth factor exposure theory (HI-GFE theory) can account for two major aging phenomena: (1) decline in mammalian 'reserve capacity' and consequent rise of diseases of maintenance, and (2) rise then peaking of most age-associated proliferative diseases. Reserve capacity decline via gradual decline in mitochondrial maximal energy production (state 3) accounts for the gradual redirection of declined maximal energy production toward survival functions like ion pumping to the relative detriment of RNA and protein synthesis as seen in lesser synthetic rates and slower turnover with consequent gradual cellular impairment. Developmental program triggered, and over-ample nutritionally driven, growth factor exposure in youth to middle age encourages promotional events that lead to proliferative diseases that rise coincident to rapidly declining reserve capacity and cumulative increased mutational status of age. CONCLUSIONS: Declining mitochondrial state 3 aging energy production status is easily and safely reversible with probable consequences of greatly postponing the decline in overall 'reserve capacity' which may also improve insulin: growth hormone balance and result in lower overall growth factor exposure and consequent longer healthy life of a potentially greater magnitude increase in life spans than that seen in calorie-restricted animals.

Gerontology 1999 May-Jun;45(3):121-35

Physiologic changes in humans subjected to severe, selective calorie restriction for two years in biosphere 2: health, aging, and toxicological perspectives

Biosphere 2 is a closed ecological space of 7-million cubic feet near Tucson, AZ, containing 7 biomes: rain forest, Savannah, ocean, marsh, desert, agricultural station, and habitat for humans and domestic animals. Sealed inside, 4 men and 4 women maintained themselves and the various systems for 2 years. All organic material, all water, and nearly all air was recycled, and virtually all food was grown inside. On the low calorie but nutrient-dense diet available, the men sustained 18% and the women 10% weight loss, mostly within the first 6 to 9 months. The nature of the diet duplicated rodent diets that had been shown to enhance health, lower disease incidence, and retard aging. Using blood specimens frozen at different points during and after the 2 years, determinations were made of a number of biochemical parameters judged to be pertinent based on past studies of rodents and monkeys on similar diets. These included blood lipids, glucose, insulin, glycosylated hemoglobin, renin, and others. The results clearly suggest that humans react to such a nutritional regime similarly to other vertebrates. In addition to these studies, and because this was a tightly closed, isolated environment, the levels of insecticides or pollutants or their derivatives were determined in the sera of 2 crew members. It was found that levels of the lipophilic toxicant DDE and the “total PCB” load increased with the loss of body fat during the first 12-18 months inside Biosphere 2, then decreased.

Toxicol Sci 1999 Dec;52(2 Suppl):61-5

Beneficial effect of a moderately energy-restricted diet on fibrinolytic factors in non-obese men

Impaired fibrinolytic activity has been reported in the elderly and is thought to play a role in the etiology of cardiovascular disease, one of the leading causes of death in most Western countries. Since restriction of energy intake has been demonstrated to act beneficially on the aging process in a variety of species, we studied the effect of a 10-week moderately energy-restricted (ER) regimen (80% of habitual) on plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI) activity, PAI-1 antigen, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) activity, and tPA antigen in non-obese, middle-aged men. Moreover, the relationship between these fibrinolytic markers and glucose tolerance was investigated. Weight loss in the ER group (n = 16) was considerable (-7.4 +/- 1.7 kg, P < .001). Subjects in the control group (n = 8) also lost some weight (-2.1 +/- 1.5 kg, P < .01). Fasting glucose levels decreased in the ER group (-0.31 +/- 0.48 mmol/L, P < .05), which was correlated with the extent of weight loss (P < .01). Baseline insulin levels at 2 hours after an oral glucose load correlated with baseline PAI activity (P < .001) and PAI-1 antigen levels (P < .001). PAI activity decreased in the ER group (-2.94 +/- 2.90 IU/mL, P < .001), particularly in subjects with a high baseline PAI activity (> 9 IU/mL). Furthermore, energy restriction led to decreased PAI-1 antigen concentration (P < .05), a nonsignificant increase in tPA activity, and a decrease in tPA antigen concentration (P < .001). All these changes were more clear in subjects with a high baseline PAI activity. These results suggest that 10 weeks of moderate energy- restriction has a profibrinolytic effect in non-obese, middle-aged men, at least in subjects with higher baseline PAI activity (> 9 IU/mL). Moreover, in line with the suggestion that high PAI activity goes together with insulin resistance, a relationship between insulin concentration after a glucose load and PAI activity was found.

Metabolism 1995 Dec;44(12):1548-52