Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Jan 2011


On the enigma of carnosine’s anti-ageing actions.

Carnosine (beta-alanyl-L-histidine) has described as a forgotten and enigmatic dipeptide. Carnosine’s enigma is particularly exemplified by its apparent anti-ageing actions; it suppresses cultured human fibroblast senescence and delays ageing in senescence-accelerated mice and Drosophila, but the mechanisms responsible remain uncertain. In addition to carnosine’s well-documented anti-oxidant, anti-glycating, aldehyde-scavenging and toxic metal-ion chelating properties, its ability to influence the metabolism of altered polypeptides, whose accumulation characterises the senescent phenotype, should also be considered. When added to cultured cells, carnosine was found in a recent study to suppress phosphorylation of the translational initiation factor eIF4E resulting in decreased translation frequency of certain mRNA species. Mutations in the gene coding for eIF4E in nematodes extend organism life span, hence carnosine’s anti-ageing effects may be a consequence of decreased error-protein synthesis which in turn lowers formation of protein carbonyls and increases protease availability for degradation of polypeptides altered postsynthetically. Other studies have revealed carnosine-induced upregulation of stress protein expression and nitric oxide synthesis, both of which may stimulate proteasomal elimination of altered proteins. Some anti-convulsants can enhance nematode longevity and suppress the effects of a protein repair defect in mice, and as carnosine exerts anti-convulsant effects in rodents, it is speculated that the dipeptide may participate in the repair of protein isoaspartyl groups. These new observations only add to the enigma of carnosine’s real in vivo functions. More experimentation is clearly required.

Exp Gerontol. 2009 Apr;44(4):237-42

Aging, Proteotoxicity, Mitochondria, Glycation, NAD and Carnosine: Possible Inter-Relationships and Resolution of the Oxygen Paradox.

It is suggested that NAD(+) availability strongly affects cellular aging and organism lifespan: low NAD(+) availability increases intracellular levels of glycolytic triose phosphates (glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate and dihydroxyacetone-phosphate) which, if not further metabolized, decompose spontaneously into methylglyoxal (MG), a glycating agent and source of protein and mitochondrial dysfunction and reactive oxygen species (ROS). MG-damaged proteins and other aberrant polypeptides can induce ROS generation, promote mitochondrial dysfunction and inhibit proteasomal activity. Upregulation of mitogenesis and mitochondrial activity by increased aerobic exercise, or dietary manipulation, helps to maintain NAD(+)availability and thereby decreases MG-induced proteotoxicity. These proposals can explain the apparent paradox whereby aging is seemingly caused by increased ROS-mediated macromolecular damage but is ameliorated by increased aerobic activity. It is also suggested that increasing mitochondrial activity decreases ROS generation, while excess numbers of inactive mitochondria are deleterious due to increased ROS generation. The muscle- and brain-associated dipeptide, carnosine, is an intracellular buffer which can delay senescence in cultured human fibroblasts and delay aging in senescence-accelerated mice. Carnosine’s ability to react with MG and possibly other deleterious carbonyl compounds, and scavenge various ROS, may account for its protective ability towards ischemia and ageing.

Front Aging Neurosci. 2010 Mar 18;2:10

Carnosine and its possible roles in nutrition and health.

The dipeptide carnosine has been observed to exert antiaging activity at cellular and whole animal levels. This review discusses the possible mechanisms by which carnosine may exert antiaging action and considers whether the dipeptide could be beneficial to humans. Carnosine’s possible biological activities include scavenger of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS), chelator of zinc and copper ions, and antiglycating and anticross-linking activities. Carnosine’s ability to react with deleterious aldehydes such as malondialdehyde, methylglyoxal, hydroxynonenal, and acetaldehyde may also contribute to its protective functions. Physiologically carnosine may help to suppress some secondary complications of diabetes, and the deleterious consequences of ischemic-reperfusion injury, most likely due to antioxidation and carbonyl-scavenging functions. Other, and much more speculative, possible functions of carnosine considered include transglutaminase inhibition, stimulation of proteolysis mediated via effects on proteasome activity or induction of protease and stress-protein gene expression, upregulation of corticosteroid synthesis, stimulation of protein repair, and effects on ADP-ribose metabolism associated with sirtuin and poly-ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) activities. Evidence for carnosine’s possible protective action against secondary diabetic complications, neurodegeneration, cancer, and other age-related pathologies is briefly discussed.

Adv Food Nutr Res. 2009;57:87-154

The cytotoxic mechanism of malondialdehyde and protective effect of carnosine via protein cross-linking/mitochondrial dysfunction/reactive oxygen species/MAPK pathway in neurons.

The accumulation of malondialdehyde (MDA), a lipid peroxidation by-product that has been used as an indicator of cellular oxidation status, is significantly increased in many neurological diseases such as brain ischemia/reperfusion, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease in vivo. In the present study, we found that MDA treatment in vitro reduced cortical neuronal viability in a time- and dose-dependent manner and induced cellular apoptosis as well as necrosis simultaneously. Furthermore, exposure to MDA led to accumulation of intracellular reactive oxygen species, dysfunction of mitochondria (denoted by the loss of mitochondrial transmembrane potential and activation of JNK and ERK. Carnosine exhibited better protection against MDA-induced cell injury than antioxidant N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) with its multi-potency, which alleviated MDA-induced protein cross-linking, reactive oxygen species burst, JNK and ERK activation. In conclusion, our results suggest that MDA induced cell injury in vitro via protein cross-linking and successive mitochondrial dysfunction, and the activation of reactive oxygen species-dependent MAPK signaling pathway. Carnosine alleviated all these alterations induced by MDA, but NAC merely inhibited Bcl-2 family-related activation of JNK and ERK. These results prompt the possibility that carnosine, but not other conventional antioxidants, can protect neurons against MDA-induced injury through decomposition of protein cross-linking toxicity and may serve as a novel agent in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

Eur J Pharmacol. 2010 Sep 21

Effect of carnosine and its Trolox-modified derivatives on life span of Drosophila melanogaster.

This study investigated the effect of antioxidants, i.e., carnosine and its Trolox- (water-soluble analog of alpha-tocopherol) acylated derivatives (S,S)-6-hydroxy-2,5,7,8-tetramethylchroman-2-carbonyl-beta-alanyl-L-histidine (S,S-Trolox-carnosine, STC) and (R,S)-6-hydroxy-2,5,7,8-tetramethylchroman-2-carbonyl- beta-alanyl-L-histidine (R,S-Trolox-carnosine, RTC) on the life span of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Adding carnosine to foodstuff was accompanied and followed by a 20% increase in the average life span of males, but it did not influence the average life span of females. At the same time, adding STC to foodstuff prolonged average longevity both in males (by 16%) and females (by 36%), but the addition of RTC to foodstuff had no influence upon the average life span of insects of either gender. The compounds studied have previously been shown to protect neurons of the rat brain from oxidative stress in the descending order of efficiency: RTC > STC > carnosine. The finding obtained in the present study suggests another order of efficacy regarding the effect on life span in male insects: STC > carnosine > RTC (inefficient). No correlation between antioxidant protection of rat neurons and the effect on life span of the fruit fly makes it possible to suppose the presence of additional cellular targets to be acted upon by exposure of D. melanogaster to these compounds.

Rejuvenation Res. 2010 Aug;13(4):453-7

Biological activity of novel synthetic derivatives of carnosine.

Two novel derivatives of carnosine—(S)-trolox-L-carnosine (STC) and (R)-trolox-L-carnosine (RTC) are characterized in terms of their antioxidant and membrane-stabilizing activities as well as their resistance to serum carnosinase. STC and RTC were synthesized by N-acylation of L-carnosine with (S)- and (R)-trolox, respectively. STC and RTC were found to react more efficiently with 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl radical (DPPH) and protect serum lipoproteins from Fe(2+)-induced oxidation more successfully than carnosine and trolox. At the same time, STC, RTC and trolox suppressed oxidative hemolysis of red blood cells (RBC) less efficiently than carnosine taken in the same concentration. When oxidative stress was induced in suspension of cerebellum granule cells by their incubation with N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), or hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)), both STC and RTC more efficiently decreased accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) than carnosine and trolox. Both STC and RTC were resistant toward hydrolytic degradation by human serum carnosinase. STC and RTC were concluded to demonstrate higher antioxidant capacity and better ability to prevent cerebellar neurons from ROS accumulation than their precursors, carnosine and trolox.

Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2010 Apr;30(3):395-404

Carnosine and carnosine-related antioxidants: a review.

First isolated and characterized in 1900 by Gulewitsch, carnosine (beta-alanyl-L-hystidine) is a dipeptide commonly present in mammalian tissue, and in particular in skeletal muscle cells; it is responsible for a variety of activities related to the detoxification of the body from free radical species and the by-products of membrane lipids peroxidation, but recent studies have shown that this small molecule also has membrane-protecting activity, proton buffering capacity, formation of complexes with transition metals, and regulation of macrophage function. It has been proposed that carnosine could act as a natural scavenger of dangerous reactive aldehydes from the degradative oxidative pathway of endogenous molecules such as sugars, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and proteins. In particular, it has been recently demonstrated that carnosine is a potent and selective scavenger of alpha,beta-unsaturated aldehydes, typical by-products of membrane lipids peroxidation and considered second messengers of the oxidative stress, and inhibits aldehyde-induced protein-protein and DNA-protein cross-linking in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, in cardiovascular ischemic damage, in inflammatory diseases. The research for new and more potent scavengers for HNE and other alpha,beta-unsaturated aldehydes has produced a consistent variety of carnosine analogs, and the present review will resume, through the scientific literature and the international patents, the most recent developments in this field.

Curr Med Chem. 2005;12(20):2293-315

Effects of L-carnosine on renal sympathetic nerve activity and DOCA-salt hypertension in rats.

The effects of L-carnosine (beta-alanyl-L-histidine) on the neural activity of the renal sympathetic nerve and on DOCA-salt hypertension in rats were examined. Intravenous injection of 1 microg L-carnosine inhibited renal sympathetic nerve activity in urethane-anesthetized animals, and a diet containing 0.0001% or 0.001% L-carnosine decreased blood pressure elevation in DOCA-salt hypertensive rats. Since L-carnosine is mainly synthesized in the skeletal muscles of mammals, it is not unreasonable to postulate that L-carnosine is an endogenous factor controlling the blood pressure in a manner possibly antagonistic to the obesity-associated hypertensive effect of leptin.

Auton Neurosci. 2002 May 31;97(2):99-102

Influence of carnosine on the cardiotoxicity of doxorubicin in rabbits.

The aim of this study was to establish the effect of naturally occurring antioxidant carnosine (CAR) on the doxorubicin (DOX)-induced cardiotoxicity in a rabbit model. For this purpose, we evaluated the influence of DOX administration alone and in a combined therapy with CAR on the hemodynamic parameters and on the degree of cardiac muscle cell alterations in rabbits. Thirty one chinchilla rabbits were divided into four groups. One group of rabbits was injected iv with DOX at a dose of 2 mg kg(-1) weekly for 7 weeks to induce congestive heart failure. Another group of rabbits received the same doses of DOX simultaneously with CAR at a dose of 100 mg kg(-1) po daily for 9 weeks. Administration of CAR started 1 week prior to the first dose of DOX and ended one week after the administration of the last dose of DOX. The control groups of animals received 0.9% NaCl and CAR alone. The following hemodynamic parameters were estimated: heart rate (HR), mean arterial pressure (MAP), cardiac index (CI), stroke index (SI) and total peripheral resistance (TPR). Registration of the hemodynamic parameters in rabbits was performed by Doppler method (Hugo Sachs Elektronik Haemodyn). CAR normalized the values of MAP in rabbits receiving DOX and increased the values of CI and SI. The influence of CAR on TPR was not statistically significant, but there was a decreasing tendency. The degree of cardiac muscle cell alterations was examined by light microscopy using Mean Total Score (MTS) technique. The histopathological studies revealed smaller damage of cardiac muscle in rabbits which received DOX with CAR in comparison to animals receiving DOX alone. CAR seems to be cardioprotective during DOX administration.

Pol J Pharmacol. 2003 Nov-Dec;55(6):1079-87

Carnosine and its constituents inhibit glycation of low-density lipoproteins that promotes foam cell formation in vitro.

Glycation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) by reactive aldehydes, such as glycolaldehyde, can result in the cellular accumulation of cholesterol in macrophages. In this study, it is shown that carnosine, or its constituent amino acids beta-alanine and l-histidine, can inhibit the modification of LDL by glycolaldehyde when present at equimolar concentrations to the modifying agent. This protective effect was accompanied by inhibition of cholesterol and cholesteryl ester accumulation in human monocyte-derived macrophages incubated with the glycated LDL. Thus, carnosine and its constituent amino acids may have therapeutic potential in preventing diabetes-induced atherosclerosis.

FEBS Lett. 2007 Mar 6;581(5):1067-70

Anti-ischemic activity of carnosine.

This review summarizes the data on anti-ischemic activity of carnosine. The pronounced anti-ischemic effects of carnosine in the brain and heart are due to the combination of antioxidant and membrane-protecting activity, proton buffering capacity, formation of complexes with transition metals, and regulation of macrophage function. In experimental cerebral ischemia, carnosine decreases mortality and is beneficial for neurological conditions of the animals. In cardiac ischemia, carnosine protects cardiomyocytes from damage and improves contractility of the heart. The data indicate that carnosine can be used as an anti-ischemic drug.

Biochemistry (Mosc). 2000 Jul;65(7):849-55

Carnosine protects against permanent cerebral ischemia in histidine decarboxylase knockout mice by reducing glutamate excitotoxicity.

Recently, we showed that carnosine protects against NMDA- induced excitotoxicity in differentiated PC12 cells through a histaminergic pathway. However, whether the protective effect of the carnosine metabolic pathway also occurs in ischemic brain is unknown. Utilizing the model of permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion (pMCAO) in mice, we found that carnosine significantly improved neurological function and decreased infarct size in both histidine decarboxylase knockout and the corresponding wild-type mice to the same extent. Carnosine decreased the glutamate levels and preserved the expression of glutamate transporter-1 (GLT-1) but not the glutamate/aspartate transporter in astrocytes exposed to ischemia in vivo and in vitro. It suppressed the dissipation of Delta Psi(m) and generation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced by oxygen-glucose deprivation in astrocytes. Furthermore, carnosine also decreased the mitochondrial ROS and reversed the decrease in GLT-1 induced by rotenone. These findings are the first to demonstrate that the mechanism of carnosine action in pMCAO may not be mediated by the histaminergic pathway, but by reducing glutamate excitotoxicity through the effective regulation of the expression of GLT-1 in astrocytes due to improved mitochondrial function. Thus, our study reveals a novel antiexcitotoxic agent in ischemic injury.

Free Radic Biol Med. 2010 Mar 1;48(5):727-35

Association between alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, selenium, and subsequent prostate cancer.

BACKGROUND: Selenium and alpha-tocopherol, the major form of vitamin E in supplements, appear to have a protective effect against prostate cancer. However, little attention has been paid to the possible role of gamma-tocopherol, a major component of vitamin E in the U.S. diet and the second most common tocopherol in human serum. A nested case-control study was conducted to examine the associations of alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, and selenium with incident prostate cancer. METHODS: In 1989, a total of 10,456 male residents of Washington County, MD, donated blood for a specimen bank. A total of 117 of 145 men who developed prostate cancer and 233 matched control subjects had toenail and plasma samples available for assays of selenium, alpha-tocopherol, and gamma-tocopherol. The association between the micronutrient concentrations and the development of prostate cancer was assessed by conditional logistic regression analysis. All statistical tests were two-sided. RESULTS: The risk of prostate cancer declined, but not linearly, with increasing concentrations of alpha-tocopherol (odds ratio (highest versus lowest fifth) = 0.65; 95% confidence interval = 0.32—1.32; P(trend) =.28). For gamma-tocopherol, men in the highest fifth of the distribution had a fivefold reduction in the risk of developing prostate cancer than men in the lowest fifth (P:(trend) =.002). The association between selenium and prostate cancer risk was in the protective direction with individuals in the top four fifths of the distribution having a reduced risk of prostate cancer compared with individuals in the bottom fifth (P(trend) =.27). Statistically significant protective associations for high levels of selenium and alpha-tocopherol were observed only when gamma-tocopherol concentrations were high. CONCLUSIONS: The use of combined alpha- and gamma- tocopherol supplements should be considered in upcoming prostate cancer prevention trials, given the observed interaction between alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, and selenium.

J Natl Cancer Inst. 2000 Dec 20;92(24):2018-23

Anti-inflammatory properties of alpha- and gamma-tocopherol.

Natural vitamin E consists of four different tocopherol and four different tocotrienol homologues (alpha,beta, gamma, delta) that all have antioxidant activity. However, recent data indicate that the different vitamin E homologues also have biological activity unrelated to their antioxidant activity. In this review, we discuss the anti-inflammatory properties of the two major forms of vitamin E, alpha-tocopherol (alphaT) and gamma-tocopherol (gammaT), and discuss the potential molecular mechanisms involved in these effects. While both tocopherols exhibit anti-inflammatory activity in vitro and in vivo, supplementation with mixed (gammaT-enriched) tocopherols seems to be more potent than supplementation with alphaT alone. This may explain the mostly negative outcomes of the recent large-scale interventional chronic disease prevention trials with alphaT only and thus warrants further investigation.

Mol Aspects Med. 2007 Oct-Dec;28(5-6):668-91

Gamma-tocopherol supplementation alone and in combination with alpha-tocopherol alters biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation in subjects with metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is associated with increased incidence of diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Prospective clinical trials with alpha-tocopherol (AT) have not yielded positive results. Because AT supplementation decreases circulating gamma-tocopherol (GT), we evaluated supplementation with GT (800 mg/day), AT (800 mg/day), the combination or placebo for 6 weeks alone AT and GT concentrations, biomarkers of oxidative stress, and inflammation in subjects with MetS (n=20/group). Plasma AT and GT levels increased following supplementation with AT alone or GT alone or in combination. AT supplementation significantly decreased GT levels. Urinary alpha- and gamma-CEHC, metabolites of the respective Ts, also increased correspondingly, i.e., alpha-CEHC with AT and gamma-CEHC with GT supplementation, compared to placebo. HsCRP levels significantly decreased in the combined AT+GT group. LPS-activated whole blood release of IL-1 and IL-6 did not change. There was a significant decrease in TNF with AT alone or in combination with GT. Plasma MDA/HNE and lipid peroxides were significantly decreased with AT, GT, or in combination. Nitrotyrosine levels were significantly decreased only with GT or GT+AT but not with AT compared to placebo. Thus, the combination of AT and GT supplementation appears to be superior to either supplementation alone on biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation and needs to be tested in prospective clinical trials to elucidate its utility in CVD prevention.

Free Radic Biol Med. 2008 Mar 15;44(6):1203-8

Vitamin E: function and metabolism.

Although vitamin E has been known as an essential nutrient for reproduction since 1922, we are far from understanding the mechanisms of its physiological functions. Vitamin E is the term for a group of tocopherols and tocotrienols, of which alpha-tocopherol has the highest biological activity. Due to the potent antioxidant properties of tocopherols, the impact of alpha-tocopherol in the prevention of chronic diseases believed to be associated with oxidative stress has often been studied, and beneficial effects have been demonstrated. Recent observations that the alpha-tocopherol transfer protein in the liver specifically sorts out RRR-alpha-tocopherol from all incoming tocopherols for incorporation into plasma lipoproteins, and that alpha-tocopherol has signaling functions in vascular smooth muscle cells that cannot be exerted by other forms of tocopherol with similar antioxidative properties, have raised interest in the roles of vitamin E beyond its antioxidative function. Also, gamma-tocopherol might have functions apart from being an antioxidant. It is a nucleophile able to trap electrophilic mutagens in lipophilic compartments and generates a metabolite that facilitates natriuresis. The metabolism of vitamin E is equally unclear. Excess alpha-tocopherol is converted into alpha-CEHC and excreted in the urine. Other tocopherols, like gamma- and delta-tocopherol, are almost quantitatively degraded and excreted in the urine as the corresponding CEHCs. All rac alpha-tocopherol compared to RRR-alpha-tocopherol is preferentially degraded to alpha-CEHC. Thus, there must be a specific, molecular role of RRR-alpha-tocopherol that is regulated by a system that sorts, distributes, and degrades the different forms of vitamin E, but has not yet been identified. In this article we try to summarize current knowledge on the function of vitamin E, with emphasis on its antioxidant vs. other properties, the preference of the organism for RRR-alpha-tocopherol, and its metabolism to CEHCs.

FASEB J. 1999 Jul;13(10):1145-55

Vitamin E forms in Alzheimer’s disease: a review of controversial and clinical experiences.

Vitamin E is a collective term for eight naturally occurring compounds, four tocopherols (alpha, beta-, gamma-, and delta-) and four tocotrienols (alpha-, beta, gamma-, and delta-). Although it is the major form of vitamin E in US diets, gamma-tocopherol receives little attention when compared to alpha-tocopherol, which is generally found in supplements and most studied for its effects on progression of cognitive impairment. Many clinical trials had been conducted with vitamin E and neurodegenerative disorders, with controversial results, including a recent study which disproves the benefit of vitamin E for Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease. This study examined the alpha-tocopherol supplement instead of gamma-tocopherol. Gamma-tocopherol has been found to be more effective in scavenging free radicals and nitrogen oxygen species that cause inflammation; both of these are components of neurodegenerative disorders. Secondly, the use of alpha-tocopherol supplements significantly reduces serum gamma-tocopherol, and this may have important biological effects. Therefore, any potential health benefits of alpha-tocopherol supplements may be offset by deleterious changes in the bioavailability of other forms of tocopherols and tocotrienols. This might account for the null effects of alpha tocopherol supplementation in Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2010 May;50(5):414-9

Present trends in vitamin E research.

Nearly after one century of research and thousands of publications, the physiological function(s) of vitamin E remain unclear. Available evidence suggests a role in cell homeostasis that occurs through the modulation of specific signaling pathways and genes involved in proliferative, metabolic, inflammatory, and antioxidant pathways. Vitamin E presence in the human body is under close metabolic control so that only alpha-tocopherol and, to a lower extent, gamma-tocopherol are retained and delivered to tissues. Other vitamin E forms that are not retained in the body in significant amounts, exhibit responses in vitro that are different form those of alpha-tocopherol and may include tumor cell specific toxicity and apoptosis. These responses provide a therapeutic potential for these minor forms, either as such or metabolically modified, to produce bioactive metabolites. These cellular effects go beyond the properties of lipophilic antioxidant attributed to alpha-tocopherol particularly investigated for its alleged protective role in atherosclerosis or other oxidative stress conditions. Understanding signaling and gene expression effects of vitamin E could help assign a physiological role to this vitamin, which will be discussed in this review. Besides vitamin E signaling, attention will be given to tocotrienols as one of the emerging topics in vitamin E research and a critical re-examination of the most recent clinical trials will be provided together with the potential use of vitamin E in disease prevention and therapy.

Biofactors. 2010 Jan;36(1):33-42

Gamma-tocopherol and its major metabolite, in contrast to alpha-tocopherol, inhibit cyclooxygenase activity in macrophages and epithelial cells.

Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2)-catalyzed synthesis of prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) plays a key role in inflammation and its associated diseases, such as cancer and vascular heart disease. Here we report that gamma-tocopherol (gammaT) reduced PGE(2) synthesis in both lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated RAW264.7 macrophages and IL-1beta-treated A549 human epithelial cells with an apparent IC(50) of 7.5 and 4 microM, respectively. The major metabolite of dietary gammaT, 2,7,8-trimethyl-2-(beta-carboxyethyl)-6-hydroxychroman (gamma-CEHC), also exhibited an inhibitory effect, with an IC(50) of approximately 30 microM in these cells. In contrast, alpha-tocopherol at 50 microM slightly reduced (25%) PGE(2) formation in macrophages, but had no effect in epithelial cells. The inhibitory effects of gammaT and gamma-CEHC stemmed from their inhibition of COX-2 activity, rather than affecting protein expression or substrate availability, and appeared to be independent of antioxidant activity. gamma-CEHC also inhibited PGE(2) synthesis when exposed for 1 h to COX-2-preinduced cells followed by the addition of arachidonic acid (AA), whereas under similar conditions, gammaT required an 8- to 24-h incubation period to cause the inhibition. The inhibitory potency of gammaT and gamma-CEHC was diminished by an increase in AA concentration, suggesting that they might compete with AA at the active site of COX-2. We also observed a moderate reduction of nitrite accumulation and suppression of inducible nitric oxide synthase expression by gammaT in lipopolysaccharide-treated macrophages. These findings indicate that gammaT and its major metabolite possess anti-inflammatory activity and that gammaT at physiological concentrations may be important in human disease prevention.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Oct 10;97(21):11494-9

Gamma-tocopherol, but not alpha-tocopherol, decreases proinflammatory eicosanoids and inflammation damage in rats.

Gamma-tocopherol (gammaT), the major form of vitamin E in US diets, and its physiological metabolite 2, 7, 8-trimethyl-2-(beta-carboxyethyl)-6-hydroxychroman (gamma-CEHC), in contrast to alpha-tocopherol (alphaT), the primary vitamin E in supplements, inhibit cyclooxygenase-catalyzed synthesis of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) in activated macrophages and epithelial cells. Here we report that in carrageenan-induced inflammation in male Wistar rats, administration of gammaT (33 or 100 mg/kg) and gamma-CEHC (2 mg/pouch), but not alphaT (33 mg/kg), significantly reduced PGE2 synthesis at the site of inflammation. gammaT, but not alphaT, significantly inhibited the formation of leukotriene B4, a potent chemotactic agent synthesized by the 5-lipoxygenase of neutrophils. Although gammaT had no effect on neutrophil infiltration, it significantly attenuated the partial loss of food consumption caused by inflammation-associated discomfort. Administration of gammaT led consistently to a significant reduction of inflammation-mediated increase in 8-isoprostane, a biomarker of lipid peroxidation. gammaT at 100 mg/kg reduced TNF-alpha (65%;P=0.069), total nitrate/nitrite (40%;P=0.1), and lactate dehydrogenase activity (30%;P=0.067). Collectively, gammaT inhibits proinflammatory PGE2 and LTB4, decreases TNF-alpha, and attenuates inflammation-mediated damage. These findings provide strong evidence that gammaT shows anti-inflammatory activities in vivo that may be important for human disease prevention and therapy.

FASEB J. 2003 May;17(8):816-22

Vitamin E isoform-specific inhibition of the exercise-induced heat shock protein 72 expression in humans.

Increased levels of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, as seen in response to exercise, challenge the cellular integrity. Important protective adaptive changes include induction of heat shock proteins (HSPs). We hypothesized that supplementation with antioxidant vitamins C (ascorbic acid) and E (tocopherol) would attenuate the exercise-induced increase of HSP72 in the skeletal muscle and in the circulation. Using randomization, we allocated 21 young men into three groups receiving one of the following oral supplementations: RRR-alpha-tocopherol 400 IU/day + ascorbic acid (AA) 500 mg/day (CEalpha), RRR-alpha-tocopherol 290 IU/day + RRR-gamma-tocopherol 130 IU/day + AA 500 mg/day (CEalphagamma), or placebo (Control). After 28 days of supplementation, the subjects performed 3 h of knee extensor exercise at 50% of the maximal power output. HSP72 mRNA and protein content was determined in muscle biopsies obtained from vastus lateralis at rest (0 h), postexercise (3 h), and after a 3-h recovery (6 h). In addition, blood was sampled for measurements of HSP72, alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, AA, and 8-iso-prostaglandin-F2alpha (8-PGF2alpha). Postsupplementation, the groups differed with respect to plasma vitamin levels. The marker of lipid peroxidation, 8-iso-PGF2alpha, increased from 0 h to 3 h in all groups, however, markedly less (P < 0.05) in CEalpha. In Control, skeletal muscle HSP72 mRNA content increased 2.5-fold (P < 0.05) and serum HSP72 protein increased 4-fold (P < 0.05) in response to exercise, whereas a significant increase of skeletal muscle HSP72 protein content was not observed (P = 0.07). In CEalpha, skeletal muscle HSP72 mRNA, HSP72 protein, and serum HSP72 were not different from Control in response to exercise. In contrast, the effect of exercise on skeletal muscle HSP72 mRNA and protein, as well as circulating HSP72, was completely blunted in CEalphagamma. The results indicate that gamma-tocopherol comprises a potent inhibitor of the exercise-induced increase of HSP72 in skeletal muscle as well as in the circulation.

J Appl Physiol. 2006 May;100(5):1679-87

Gamma-tocopherol and docosahexaenoic acid decrease inflammation in dialysis patients.

OBJECTIVE: Increased cardiovascular risk in hemodialysis patients may be related to augmented oxidative stress and inflammation, for which no proven beneficial therapies are available.STUDY DESIGN: We examined the effects of gamma tocopherol and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) administration on inflammation and oxidative stress markers in hemodialysis patients in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, clinical trial. Active treatment consisted of capsules containing gamma tocopherol (308 mg) and DHA (800 mg). SETTING: Outpatient dialysis center. PATIENTS: Seventy maintenance hemodialysis patients. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Plasma concentrations of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and protein carbonyl content were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay. C-reactive protein was measured by nephelometry. The F(2) isoprostanes were measured by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Erythrocyte DHA content was measured by gas chromatography. RESULTS: Sixty-three patients were enrolled, and 57 completed the study. No serious adverse events were attributed to either active treatment or placebo. In the treatment group, but not in the placebo group, there were significant decreases in IL-6 (21.4 +/- 3.5 to 16.8 +/- 3.7 pg/mL), white blood cell (WBC) count (7.4 +/- 0.3 to 6.9 +/- 0.4 10(3)/microL), and neutrophil fraction of WBCs (4.8 +/- 0.3 to 4.4 +/- 0.3 10(3)/microL), at P < .05 for all. There were no significant changes in plasma concentrations of CRP, F(2) isoprostanes, or carbonyls in either group. CONCLUSION: Thus, gamma tocopherol and DHA are well-tolerated and reduce selected biomarkers of inflammation in hemodialysis patients. Larger randomized, clinical trials will be required to determine if gamma tocopherol and DHA can reduce cardiovascular complications in hemodialysis patients.

J Ren Nutr. 2007 Sep;17(5):296-304.

Relative Effects of alpha- and gamma-Tocopherol on Low-Density Lipoprotein Oxidation and Superoxide Dismutase and Nitric Oxide Synthase Activity and Protein Expression in Rats.

BACKGROUND: Increasing evidence suggests that vitamin E prevents the progression of atherosclerosis by inhibiting platelet aggregation, monocyte adhesion, and improving plaque stability and vasomotor function. Recently, controversy has arisen as to the relative effects of alpha- and gamma-tocopherol in modulating some mediators of atherosclerosis.METHODS AND RESULTS: We examined the effects of alpha- and gamma-tocopherol on constitutive nitric oxide synthase (cNOS) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity and protein expression in rats. Sprague-Dawley rats were fed regular chow or chow mixed with alpha- or gamma-tocopherol (100 mg/kg/day) for 7 to 10 days. Plasma alpha- and gamma-tocopherol levels, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation, and cNOS and SOD activity and protein expression were measured. Plasma alpha-tocopherol levels were significantly increased (eP <.01 vs control), but gamma-tocopherol levels fell (P <.01 vs control) in rats fed alpha-tocopherol. Plasma gamma-tocopherol levels were increased (P <.01 vs control), and alpha-tocopherol levels did not change in rats fed gamma-tocopherol. Both alpha- and gamma-tocopherol feeding decreased the rate of LDL oxidation induced by phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA)-stimulated leukocytes (P <.01 vs control). Both alpha- and gamma-tocopherol increased SOD activity in plasma and arterial tissues as well as Mn SOD and Cu/Zn SOD protein expression in arterial tissues (all P <.01 vs control). gamma-Tocopherol was more potent than alpha-tocopherol in all these effects (P <.05). Both a- and gamma-tocopherol increased NO generation and cNOS activity (all P <.05 vs control). However, only gamma-tocopherol increased cNOS protein expression.CONCLUSIONS: These observations indicate that whereas both alpha- and gamma-tocopherol exert important effects on determinants of oxidationand vasomotor function, effects of dietary gamma-tocopherol supplementation in vivo are less pronounced than those of gamma-tocopherol supplementation.

J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 1999 Oct;4(4):219-226

Influence of phosphatidylserine on cognitive performance and cortical activity after induced stress.

The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of phosphatidylserine (PS) on cognition and cortical activity after mental stress. After familiarization, 16 healthy subjects completed cognitive tasks after induced stress in a test-re-test design (T1 and T2). Directly after T1, subjects were assigned double-blind to either PS or placebo groups followed by T2 after 42 days. At T1 and T2, cortical activity was measured at baseline and immediately after stress with cognitive tasks using electro-encephalography (EEG). EEG was recorded at 17 electrode positions and fast Fourier transforms (FFT) determined power at Theta, Alpha-1, Alpha-2, Beta-1 and Beta-2. Statistics were calculated using ANOVA (group x trial x time). The main finding of the study was that chronic supplementation of phosphatidylserine significantly decreases Beta-1 power in right hemispheric frontal brain regions (F8; P < 0.05) before and after induced stress. The results for Beta-1 power in the PS group were connected to a more relaxed state compared to the controls.

Nutr Neurosci. 2008 Jun;11(3):103-10

Omega-3 DHA and EPA for cognition, behavior, and mood: clinical findings and structural-functional synergies with cell membrane phospholipids.

The omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are orthomolecular, conditionally essential nutrients that enhance quality of life and lower the risk of premature death. They function exclusively via cell membranes, in which they are anchored by phospholipid molecules. DHA is proven essential to pre- and postnatal brain development, whereas EPA seems more influential on behavior and mood. Both DHA and EPA generate neuroprotective metabolites. In double-blind, randomized, controlled trials, DHA and EPA combinations have been shown to benefit attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), autism, dyspraxia, dyslexia, and aggression. For the affective disorders, meta-analyses confirm benefits in major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder, with promising results in schizophrenia and initial benefit for borderline personality disorder. Accelerated cognitive decline and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) correlate with lowered tissue levels of DHA/EPA, and supplementation has improved cognitive function. Huntington disease has responded to EPA. Omega-3 phospholipid supplements that combine DHA/EPA and phospholipids into the same molecule have shown marked promise in early clinical trials. Phosphatidylserine with DHA/EPA attached (Omega-3 PS) has been shown to alleviate AD/HD symptoms. Krill omega-3 phospholipids, containing mostly phosphatidylcholine (PC) with DHA/EPA attached, markedly outperformed conventional fish oil DHA/EPA triglycerides in double-blind trials for premenstrual syndrome/dysmenorrhea and for normalizing blood lipid profiles. Krill omega-3 phospholipids demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity, lowering C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in a double-blind trial. Utilizing DHA and EPA together with phospholipids and membrane antioxidants to achieve a triple cell membrane synergy may further diversify their currently wide range of clinical applications.

Altern Med Rev. 2007 Sep;12(3):207-27

Cognition-enhancing properties of subchronic phosphatidylserine (PS) treatment in middle-aged rats: comparison of bovine cortex PS with egg PS and soybean PS.

There are various clinical and non-clinical studies that have indicated that phosphatidylserine (PS) treatment can improve cognitive functions in humans and other animals. However, treatment with PS derived from bovine cortex is not desirable because of possible transfer of infectious diseases. The present study investigated the cognition-enhancing properties of different types of PS in rats. Seventeen-month-old male Fischer 344 rats were treated daily with a dose of 15 mg/kg of PS derived from bovine cortex (BC-PS), soybean (S-PS), egg (E-PS), or vehicle (n = 9 for each group). The effects of treatment were evaluated in three different behavioral tests. An open field test was conducted to examine the effects of treatment on psychomotor behavior. Two other tests (Morris water escape task and two-way active avoidance) assessed treatment effects on the cognitive performance of rats. Treatment with the different forms of PS did not affect the psychomotor or spatial discrimination performance of the rats. In accordance with previous studies, the cognition-enhancing effects of BC-PS were observed in the two-way active avoidance task. It appeared that the cognition-enhancing effects of S-PS were not different from those of BC-PS. The performance of rats treated with E-PS did not deviate from that of vehicle-treated rats. On the basis of the present study, it was concluded that S-PS, but not E-PS, may have comparable effects on cognition when compared with BC-PS.

Nutrition. 1999 Oct;15(10):778-83

Cognitive decline in the elderly: a double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter study on efficacy of phosphatidylserine administration.

This double-blind study assesses the therapeutic efficacy and the safety of oral treatment with phosphatidylserine (BC-PS) vs placebo (300 mg/day for 6 months) in a group of geriatric patients with cognitive impairment. A total of 494 elderly patients (age between 65 and 93 years), with moderate to severe cognitive decline, according to the Mini Mental State Examination and Global Deterioration Scale, were recruited in 23 Geriatric or General Medicine Units in Northeastern Italy. Sixty-nine patients dropped out within the 6-month trial period. Patients were examined just before starting therapy, and 3 and 6 months thereafter. The efficacy of treatment compared to placebo was measured on the basis of changes occurring in behavior and cognitive performance using the Plutchik Geriatric Rating Scale and the Buschke Selective Reminding Test. Statistically significant improvements in the phosphatidylserine-treated group compared to placebo were observed both in terms of behavioral and cognitive parameters. In addition, clinical evaluation and laboratory tests demonstrated that BC-PS was well tolerated. These results are clinically important since the patients were representative of the geriatric population commonly met in clinical practice.

Aging (Milano). 1993 Apr;5(2):123-33

Cholinesterase inhibitors in mild cognitive impairment: a systematic review of randomised trials.

BACKGROUND: Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) refers to a transitional zone between normal ageing and dementia. Despite the uncertainty regarding the definition of MCI as a clinical entity, clinical trials have been conducted in the attempt to study the role of cholinesterase inhibitors (ChEIs) currently approved for symptomatic treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer disease (AD), in preventing progression from MCI to AD. The objective of this review is to assess the effects of ChEIs (donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine) in delaying the conversion from MCI to Alzheimer disease or dementia. METHODS AND FINDINGS: The terms “donepezil”, “rivastigmine”, “galantamine”, and “mild cognitive impairment” and their variants, synonyms, and acronyms were used as search terms in four electronic databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane, PsycINFO) and three registers: the Cochrane Collaboration Trial Register, Current Controlled Trials, and Published and unpublished studies were included if they were randomized clinical trials published (or described) in English and conducted among persons who had received a diagnosis of MCI and/or abnormal memory function documented by a neuropsychological assessment. A standardized data extraction form was used. The reporting quality was assessed using the Jadad scale. Three published and five unpublished trials met the inclusion criteria (three on donepezil, two on rivastigmine, and three on galantamine). Enrolment criteria differed among the trials, so the study populations were not homogeneous. The duration of the trials ranged from 24 wk to 3 y. No significant differences emerged in the probability of conversion from MCI to AD or dementia between the treated groups and the placebo groups. The rate of conversion ranged from 13% (over 2 y) to 25% (over 3 y) among treated patients, and from 18% (over 2 y) to 28% (over 3 y) among those in the placebo groups. Only for two studies was it possible to derive point estimates of the relative risk of conversion: 0.85 (95% confidence interval 0.64-1.12), and 0.84 (0.57-1.25). Statistically significant differences emerged for three secondary end points. However, when adjusting for multiple comparisons, only one difference remained significant (i.e., the rate of atrophy in the whole brain). CONCLUSIONS: The use of ChEIs in MCI was not associated with any delay in the onset of AD or dementia. Moreover, the safety profile showed that the risks associated with ChEIs are not negligible. The uncertainty regarding MCI as a clinical entity raises the question as to the scientific validity of these trials.

PLoS Med. 2007 Nov 27;4(11):e338

A role of GABA analogues in the treatment of neurological diseases.

Gamma-Amino butyric acid is an extremely important inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system and is essential for the overall balance between neuronal excitation and inhibition. It is well documented that GABA deficiency is associated with several important neurological disorders such as Huntington’s chorea, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease and other psychiatric disorders, like anxiety, depression, pain, panic, or mania. Although, it is known that increasing the brain concentration of GABA prevents convulsions, the high polarity and flexible structure of this compound are probably responsible for its inefficiency as an anticonvulsant when administered orally or intravenously. To resolve this problem, GABA analogues are being designed. Over recent years, there has been increasing interest in the synthesis and pharmacological effect of new GABA derivatives, which can be considered as potent drugs in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.

Curr Med Chem. 2010;17(22):2338-47

The cholinergic hypothesis of geriatric memory dysfunction.

Biochemical, electrophysiological, and pharmacological evidence supporting a role for cholinergic dysfunction in age-related memory disturbances is critically reviewed. An attempt has been made to identify pseudoissues, resolve certain controversies, and clarify misconceptions that have occurred in the literature. Significant cholinergic dysfunctions occur in the aged and demented central nervous system, relationships between these changes and loss of memory exist, similar memory deficits can be artificially induced by blocking cholinergic mechanisms in young subjects, and under certain tightly controlled conditions reliable memory improvements in aged subjects can be achieved after cholinergic stimulation. Conventional attempts to reduce memory impairments in clinical trials hav not been therapeutically successful, however. Possible explanations for these disappointments are given and directions for future laboratory and clinical studies are suggested.

Science. 1982 Jul 30;217(4558):408-14

Chronic L-alpha-glyceryl-phosphoryl-choline increases inositol phosphate formation in brain slices and neuronal cultures.

Repeated, but not single injections of L-alpha-glyceryl-phosphorylcholine (alpha GPC) significantly increased basal [3H]inositol monophosphate (InsP) formation in hippocampal, cortical, and striatal slices of male rats. The effect was dose-dependent and was accompanied by an increased incorporation of [3H]inositol into the phospholipid fraction. Incubation of brain slices with different neurotransmitter antagonists, such as atropine, prazosin, or L-2-amino-4-phosphonobutanoate (L-AP4) did not modify the increase in [3H]InsP formation produced by alpha GPC, suggesting that the effect is not mediated by an increased availability of a specific neurotransmitter. Similar results were obtained in cerebellar and cortico-striatal neurones in primary culture exposed to daily addition of alpha GPC since the second day of maturation in vitro. We suggest that alpha GPC treatment may result in an increased rate of phospholipid synthesis, including the phosphoinositides available for signal transduction at central nervous system level.

Pharmacol Toxicol. 1994 Feb;74(2):95-100

Long term choline alfoscerate treatment counters age-dependent microanatomical changes in rat brain.

The density of nerve cells and of silver-gold impregnated fibres were evaluated in the hippocampus and in the cerebellar cortex in adult (12-month-old) and old (24-month-old) Sprague-Dawley rats. 2. The effects of long-term choline alfoscerate (GFC) treatment (100 mg/Kg/day for 6 months) on the above parameters were investigated in old rats. 3. The number of nerve cell profiles and the area occupied by silver-gold impregnated fibres were decreased both in the hippocampus and in the cerebellar cortex in old in comparison with adult rats. 4. GFC treatment countered the age-dependent reduction of nerve cells and silver-gold impregnated fibres. The hippocampus was more sensitive than the cerebellar cortex to the activity of GFC. 5. These results suggest that GFC treatment is effective in slowing down the expression of structural changes occurring in aging brain.

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 1994 Sep;18(5):915-24

Cholinergic neurotransmission in the hippocampus of aged rats: influence of L-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine treatment.

The influence of aging and of L-alpha-glycerylphos-phorylcholine (GFC) treatment on the acetylcholine synthesizing and degradating enzymes choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) and acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and on cholinergic muscarinic M-1 and M-2 receptors were assessed in the hippocampus using immunocytochemical, histochemical and radioligand binding techniques, respectively. The investigation was performed on male Wistar rats of 2 months (young), 12 months (adult), and 27 months (old). Oral GFC was given at the dose of 100 mg/Kg/day from the 21st to the 27th month of age. ChAT revealed the highest immunostaining in the hippocampus of adult rats followed by young and old animals. The highest expression of AChE reactivity was noticeable in the hippocampus of adult rats followed by old and young animals. Treatment with GFC restored in part ChAT immunoreactivity and AChE reactivity in the hippocampus of aged rats. Muscarinic M-1 and M-2 receptors were labeled with [3H]-pirenzepine and [3H]-AF-DX-116 respectively. The density of M-1 muscarinic receptors decreased with age, whereas M-2 muscarinic receptors did not change. GFC treatment countered in part the loss of M-1 receptors in old rats and was without effect on M-2 receptors.

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1993 Sep 24;695:311-3

Oral choline alfoscerate counteracts age-dependent loss of mossy fibres in the rat hippocampus.

Mossy fibres represent a major intrahippocampal associative pathway. They consist of axons of granule cells of the dentate gyrus and show an age-dependent loss as do the granule cells of the dentate gyrus. The present study was designed to assess whether long-term treatment of rats with choline alfoscerate in their drinking water would be effective in countering the loss of mossy fibres and of granule cells occurring with aging. Choline alfoscerate is a precursor in the biosynthesis of brain phospholipids and increases the bioavailability of choline in nervous tissue. Male Sprague-Dawley rats of 18 months of age were divided into two groups. One group received a daily dose of 100 mg/kg choline alfoscerate for 6 months; the other group was used as an untreated control. Twelve-month-old untreated animals were used as a reference group. The area occupied by mossy fibres, as well as their density, was significantly reduced in 24-month-old control rats in comparison with 12-month-old rats. The same is true for the density granule cells of the dentate gyrus which was decreased by about 20% in the oldest animals. In choline alfoscerate-treated rats both the area occupied by mossy fibres and their density were significantly higher than in age-matched controls. Moreover, the number of granule neurons of the hippocampus was higher by about 7% in choline alfoscerate-treated than in control 24-month-old rats. The above data suggest that choline alfoscerate treatment counteracts some anatomical changes of the rat hippocampus occurring in old age.

Mech Ageing Dev. 1992;66(1):81-91

Nerve growth factor receptor immunoreactivity in the cerebellar cortex of aged rats: effect of choline alfoscerate treatment.

The rat cerebellar cortex represents an interesting animal model for the analysis of age-dependent changes in brain microanatomy and function. Moreover, the cerebellar cortex contains detectable amounts of nerve growth factor (NGF) and express NGF receptors, which are sensitive to aging. Previous studies of our group have shown that treatment with choline alfoscerate (alpha-glyceryl-phosphorylcholine) countered the loss of nerve cells and fibers occurring with age in the cerebellar cortex. The present study was designed to assess whether treatment for 6 months with a daily dose of 100 mg/kg of choline alfoscerate has any effect on the expression of NGF receptor immunoreactivity in male Wistar rats of 24 months of age. Twelve-month-old rats were used as an adult reference group. NGF receptor immunoreactivity which was developed in the 3 layers of the cerebellar cortex in adult rats was decreased in the neuropil of the molecular layer and in the cytoplasm of Purkinje neurons of rats of 24 months. The number of NGF receptor immunoreactive Purkinje neurons was also lower in the oldest age group, whereas the NGF receptor immunoreactivity in the cytoplasm of granule neurons was unchanged. Treatment with choline alfoscerate increased NGF receptor immunoreactivity in the molecular layer and in the cytoplasm of Purkinje neurons as well as the number of immunoreactive Purkinje neurons but was without effect on NGF receptor immunoreactivity in the granule neurons. These results suggest that choline alfoscerate treatment may increase the expression of NGF receptors in the rat cerebellar cortex.

Mech Ageing Dev. 1993 Jun;69(1-2):119-27

The impact of a medical food containing gammalinolenic and eicosapentaenoic acids on asthma management and the quality of life of adult asthma patients.

BACKGROUND: Leukotriene synthesis inhibitors and receptor antagonists are efficacious for the treatment of asthma. Diets containing the fatty acids gammalinolenic acid (GLA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) decrease leukotriene synthesis; however, their impact on asthma management and quality of life (QOL) has not been evaluated in asthmatic subjects. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate asthma management and the QOL of asthmatic adult subjects consuming a medical food emulsion containing GLA and EPA. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Trial 1 was a randomized, prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group trial in atopic subjects with mild-to-moderate asthma (n = 35 evaluable) consuming a low dose (0.75 g GLA + 0.5 g EPA), high dose (1.13 g GLA + 0.75 g EPA) or placebo emulsion daily. Subjects were questioned about their asthma management using a non-validated questionnaire after 2 and 4 weeks. Blood leukotrienes were measured at baseline and after 4 weeks. Trial 2 was an open-label study (n = 65 evaluable) where subjects consumed the low-dose medical food emulsion, EFF1009, daily. QOL and asthma management were measured using the validated Mini Asthma Quality of Life (MiniAQLQ) and the Asthma Control (ACQ) questionnaires, respectively, administered at baseline and after 4 weeks. RESULTS: In Trial 1, leukotriene biosynthesis decreased (p < 0.05). Self-reported asthma status and bronchodilator use improved in subjects consuming low- and high-dose emulsion between week 2 and week 4 (p < 0.01), but not compared to placebo (p > 0.1). In Trial 2, mean +/- standard error total MiniAQLQ and ACQ scores improved by 1.5 +/- 0.2 and 1.0 +/- 0.1, respectively (p < 0.001). Subdomain scores from MiniAQLQ improved and rescue bronchodilator use decreased (p < 0.001). CONCLUSION: The inclusion of the medical food EFF1009 in asthma management regimens can improve patient quality of life and decrease reliance on rescue medication.

Curr Med Res Opin. 2008 Feb;24(2):559-67

Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with gammalinolenic acid.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the clinical efficacy and side effects of gammalinolenic acid, a plant-seed-derived essential fatty acid that suppresses inflammation and joint tissue injury in animal models. DESIGN: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 24-week trial. SETTING: Rheumatology clinic of a university hospital. PATIENTS: Thirty-seven patients with rheumatoid arthritis and active synovitis. INTERVENTION: Treatment with 1.4 g/d gammalinolenic acid in borage seed oil or cotton seed oil (placebo). MEASUREMENTS: Physicians’ and patients’ global assessment of disease activity; joint tenderness, joint swelling, morning stiffness, grip strength, and ability to do daily activities. RESULTS: Treatment with gammalinolenic acid resulted in clinically important reduction in the signs and symptoms of disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (P < 0.05). In contrast, patients given a placebo showed no change or showed worsening of disease. Gammalinolenic acid reduced the number of tender joints by 36%, the tender joint score by 45%, swollen joint count by 28%, and the swollen joint score by 41%, whereas the placebo group did not show significant improvement in any measure. Overall clinical responses (significant change in four measures) were also better in the treatment group (P < 0.05). No patients withdrew from gammalinolenic acid treatment because of adverse reactions. CONCLUSION: Gammalinolenic acid in doses used in this study is a well-tolerated and effective treatment for active rheumatoid arthritis. Gammalinolenic acid is available worldwide as a component of evening primrose and borage seed oils. It is usually taken in far lower doses than used in this trial. It is not approved in the United States for the treatment of any condition and should not be viewed as therapy for any disease. Further controlled studies of its use in rheumatoid arthritis are warranted.

Ann Intern Med. 1993 Nov 1;119(9):867-73

Effects of gammalinolenic acid on plasma lipoproteins and apolipoproteins.

Nineteen hypercholesterolemic patients (10 without and 9 with hypertriglyceridemia) were given evening primrose oil rich in gammalinolenic acid (GLA, 18: 3n - 6), in a placebo controlled cross-over design, over 16 weeks (8 + 8 weeks), with safflower oil as the placebo. During supplementation with evening primrose oil, dihomogammalinolenic acid (20: 3n - 6) increased in plasma lipids and red blood cells, and in subjects without hypertriglyceridemia there was a significant decrease in low density lipoprotein-cholesterol and plasma apolipoprotein B compared with the levels observed during safflower oil administration. Our results confirmed that evening primrose oil is effective in lowering low density lipoprotein in hypercholesterolemic patients.

Atherosclerosis. 1989 Feb;75(2-3):95-104

Gamma-linolenate reduces weight regain in formerly obese humans.

The purpose of this study was to determine whether gamma-linolenate (GLA) supplementation would suppress weight regain following major weight loss. Fifty formerly obese humans were randomized into a double-blind study and given either 890 mg/d of GLA (5 g/d borage oil) or 5 g/d olive oil (controls) for 1 y. Body weight and composition and adipose fatty acids of fasting subjects were assessed at 0, 3, 12, and 33 mo. After 12 subjects in each group had completed 1 y of supplementation, weight regain differed between the GLA (2.17 +/- 1.78 kg) and control (8.78 +/- 2.78 kg) groups (P < 0.03). The initial study was terminated, and all remaining subjects were assessed over a 6-wk period. Unblinding revealed weight regains of 1.8 +/- 1.6 kg in the GLA group and 7.6 +/- 2.1 kg in controls for the 13 and 17 subjects, respectively, who completed a minimum of 50 wk in the study. Weight regain did not differ in the remaining 10 GLA and 5 control subjects who completed <50 wk in the study. In a follow-up study, a subgroup from both the original GLA (GLA-GLA, n = 9) and the original control (Control-GLA, n = 14) populations either continued or crossed over to GLA supplementation for an additional 21 mo. Interim weight regains between 15 and 33 mo were 6.48 +/- 1.79 kg and 6.04 +/- 2.52 kg for the GLA-GLA and Control-GLA groups, respectively. Adipose triglyceride GLA levels increased 152% (P < 0.0001) in the GLA group at 12 mo, but did not increase further after 33 mo of GLA administration. In conclusion, GLA reduced weight regain in humans following major weight loss, suggesting a role for essential fatty acids in fuel partitioning in humans prone to obesity.

J Nutr. 2007 Jun;137(6):1430-5

An open-label phase I/II dose escalation study of the treatment of pancreatic cancer using lithium gammalinolenate.

There are currently no satisfactory treatments for inoperable pancreatic cancer. Median survivals for untreated patients are of the order of 100 days and, with one exception, no chemotherapy or radiotherapy regime has been found to produce a worthwhile extension of life with reasonably tolerable side effects. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) has been found to kill about 40 different human cancer cell lines in vitro without harming normal cells. The lithium salt of GLA (LiGLA) can be administered intravenously and a dose escalation study of a 10 day infusion followed by oral therapy in patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer was carried out in 48 patients in two centres. Peripheral venous infusion caused thrombophlebitis but this could be avoided by infusing via a central vein with appropriate heparinisation. Too rapid infusion caused haemolysis which could be avoided by slow dose escalation in the first few days and maintenance of plasma lithium below 0.8 mmol/l. Doses ranged from 7 to 77g/patient cumulatively delivered over 2-12 days. Other than the above described events there were no important side effects and patients felt well during the infusions. A Kaplan-Meier analysis showed that survival was not significantly influenced by which centre the patients were treated in, the sex of the patients or the presence or absence of histological confirmation. The presence or absence of liver metastases, the patients’ Karnofsky scores and the-dose of LiGLA had significant effects on survival from treatment. A Cox proportional hazards model revealed similar results: in both centres, in both sexes, and in patients with and without liver metastases according to the model the highest doses of LiGLA were associated with longer survival times as compared with the lowest doses. LiGLA deserves investigation in a randomised prospective study.

Anticancer Res. 1996 Mar-Apr;16(2):867-74

Gamma linolenic acid: an antiinflammatory omega-6 fatty acid.

Inflammation plays an important role in health and disease. Most of the chronic diseases of modern society, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, etc. have inflammatory component. At the same time, the link between diet and disease is also being recognized. Amongst dietary constituents, fat has gained most recognition in affecting health. Saturated and trans fatty acids have been implicated in obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer while polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) generally have a positive effect on health. The PUFAs of omega-3 and omega-6 series play a significant role in health and disease by generating potent modulatory molecules for inflammatory responses, including eicosanoids (prostaglandins, and leukotrienes), and cytokines (interleukins) and affecting the gene expression of various bioactive molecules. Gamma linolenic acid (GLA, all cis 6, 9, 12-Octadecatrienoic acid, C18:3, n-6), is produced in the body from linoleic acid (all cis 6,9-octadecadienoic acid), an essential fatty acid of omega-6 series by the enzyme delta-6-desaturase. Preformed GLA is present in trace amounts in green leafy vegetables and in nuts. The most significant source of GLA for infants is breast milk. GLA is further metabolized to dihomogamma linlenic acid (DGLA) which undergoes oxidative metabolism by cyclooxygenases and lipoxygenases to produce anti-inflammatory eicosanoids (prostaglandins of series 1 and leukotrienes of series 3). GLA and its metabolites also affect expression of various genes where by regulating the levels of gene products including matrix proteins. These gene products play a significant role in immune functions and also in cell death (apoptosis). The present review will emphasize the role of GLA in modulating inflammatory response, and hence its potential applications as an anti-inflammatory nutrient or adjuvant.

Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2006 Dec;7(6):531-4

The metabolism of dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid in man.

Orally administered dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DHLA) is well absorbed in man; it appears in blood after ca. 4 hr first as triglyceride ester and later as phospholipid. After sustained-dosing, DHLA penetrated membrane pools and all phospholipid components but, depending on the dosage, reached a metabolic equilibrium in 4-16 days. Intact platelets do not accumulate arachidonate following DHLA administration, and species differences occur in the capacity of animals to metabolize DHLA to arachidonic acid (AA). The rat appears to be unusual in having a very active hepatic delta5-desaturase enzyme system. Potentially antithrombotic changes in platelet function which followed the administration of DHLA to man were accompanied by a significant increase in the capacity of platelets to synthesize PGE1. Concomitant increases in PGE2 synthesis do not apparently result from an increased production of AA and suggest that DHLA, or a DHLA metabolite, interferes with the metabolism of AA. Effects on thromboxane and prostacyclin synthesis are being studied.

Lipids. 1979 Feb;14(2):174-80

Dietary supplementation with gamma-linolenic acid alters fatty acid content and eicosanoid production in healthy humans.

To understand the in vivo metabolism of dietary gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), we supplemented the diets of 29 volunteers with GLA in doses of 1.5-6.0 g/d. Twenty-four subjects ate controlled eucaloric diets consisting of 25% fat; the remaining subjects maintained their typical Western diets. GLA and dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA) increased in serum lipids of subjects supplemented with 3.0 and 6.0 g/d; serum arachidonic acid increased in all subjects. GLA supplementation with 3.0 and 6.0 g/d also resulted in an enrichment of DGLA in neutrophil phospholipids but no change in GLA or AA levels. Before supplementation, DGLA was associated primarily with phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) of neutrophil glycerolipids, and DGLA increased significantly in PE and neutral lipids after GLA supplementation. Extending the supplementation to 12 wk did not consistently change the magnitude of increase in either serum or neutrophil lipids in subjects receiving 3.0 g/d. After GLA supplementation, A23187-stimulated neutrophils released significantly more DGLA, but AA release did not change. Neutrophils obtained from subjects after 3 wk of supplementation with 3.0 g/d GLA synthesized less leukotriene B4 (P < 0.05) and platelet-activating factor. Together, these data reveal that DGLA, the elongase product of GLA, but not AA accumulates in neutrophil glycerolipids after GLA supplementation. The increase in DGLA relative to AA within inflammatory cells such as the neutrophil may attenuate the biosynthesis of AA metabolites and may represent a mechanism by which dietary GLA exerts an anti-inflammatory effect.

J Nutr. 1997 Aug;127(8):1435-44

Clinical and experimental study on the long-term effect of dietary gamma-linolenic acid on plasma lipids, platelet aggregation, thromboxane formation, and prostacyclin production.

Effects of a dietary intake of the polyunsaturated omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs) linoleic and gamma-linolenic acids (GLA) on blood lipids, platelet function, and vascular prostacyclin production were studied 12 hyperlipidemic patients (doses of 3 g/day) and 12 male Wistar rats (doses of 3 mg/kg/day) for 4 months. In humans, GLA supplementation decreased plasma triglyceride (TG) levels by 48% (p < 0.001) and increased HDL-cholesterol concentration by 22% (p < 0.01). Total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels were significantly decreased by omega-6 EFAs. Platelet aggregation induced by low concentrations of adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and epinephrine, and serum thromboxane B2 decreased by 45% both in humans and animals after GLA supplementation. Bleeding time increased 40% (p , 0.01). In rats, vascular prostacyclin production measured by radioimmunoassay of 6-keto-PGF1 alpha was enhanced by GLA intake. These effects of omega-6 EFAs may contribute to cardiovascular protection and prevention of the atherosclerotic disease.

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 1994 Nov;51(5):311-6