Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Nov 2016

Stem Cell Conferences, Pomegranate And Cancer, Sleep, Eye Cream, And Blood Pressure

Stem Cell Conferences, Pomegranate And Cancer, Sleep, Eye Cream, And Blood Pressure

Stem Cell Conferences

The potential use of mesenchymal stem cells in stroke therapy—From bench to bedside.

Stroke is the second main cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The rationale for the use of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in stroke is based on the capacity of MSCs to secrete a large variety of bioactive molecules such as growth factors, cytokines and chemokines leading to reduction of inflammation, increased neurogenesis from the germinative niches of central nervous system, increased angiogenesis, effects on astrocytes, oligodendrocytes and axons. This review presents the data derived from experimental studies and the evidence available from clinical trials about the use of MSCs in stroke therapy.

J Neurol Sci. 2015 May 15; 352(1-2): 1-11.

New strategies for overcoming limitations of mesenchymal stem cell-based immune modulation.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have rapidly been applied in a broad field of immune-mediated disorders since the first successful clinical use of MSCs for treatment of graft-versus-host disease. Despite the lack of supporting data, expectations that MSCs could potentially treat most inflammatory conditions led to rushed application and development of commercialized products. Today, both pre-clinical and clinical studies present mixed results for MSC therapy and the discrepancy between expected and actual efficacy of MSCs in various diseases has evoked a sense of discouragement. Therefore, we believe that MSC therapy may now be at a critical milestone for re-evaluation and re-consideration. In this review, we summarize the current status of MSC-based clinical trials and focus on the discrepancy between expected and actual outcome of MSC therapy from bench to bedside. Importantly, we discuss the underlying limitations of MSCs and suggest a new guideline for MSC therapy in hopes of improving their therapeutic efficacy.

Int J Stem Cells. 2015 May; 8(1): 54-68.

Strategies to Optimize Adult Stem Cell Therapy for Tissue Regeneration.

Stem cell therapy aims to replace damaged or aged cells with healthy functioning cells in congenital defects, tissue injuries, autoimmune disorders, and neurogenic degenerative diseases. Among various types of stem cells, adult stem cells (i.e., tissue-specific stem cells) commit to becoming the functional cells from their tissue of origin. These cells are the most commonly used in cell-based therapy since they do not confer risk of teratomas, do not require fetal stem cell maneuvers and thus are free of ethical concerns, and they confer low immunogenicity (even if allogenous). The goal of this review is to summarize the current state of the art and advances in using stem cell therapy for tissue repair in solid organs. Here we address key factors in cell preparation, such as the source of adult stem cells, optimal cell types for implantation (universal mesenchymal stem cells vs. tissue-specific stem cells, or induced vs. non-induced stem cells), early or late passages of stem cells, stem cells with endogenous or exogenous growth factors, preconditioning of stem cells (hypoxia, growth factors, or conditioned medium), using various controlled release systems to deliver growth factors with hydrogels or microspheres to provide apposite interactions of stem cells and their niche. We also review several approaches of cell delivery that affect the outcomes of cell therapy, including the appropriate routes of cell administration (systemic, intravenous, or intraperitoneal vs. local administration), timing for cell therapy (immediate vs. a few days after injury), single injection of a large number of cells vs. multiple smaller injections, a single site for injection vs. multiple sites and use of rodents vs. larger animal models. Future directions of stem cell-based therapies are also discussed to guide potential clinical applications.

Int J Mol Sci. 2016 17(6).

Novel clinical uses for cord blood derived mesenchymal stromal cells.

Regenerative medicine offers new hope for many debilitating diseases that result in damage to tissues and organs. The concept is straightforward with replacement of damaged cells with new functional cells. However, most tissues and organs are complex structures involving multiple cell types, supportive structures, a microenvironment producing cytokines and growth factors and a vascular system to supply oxygen and other nutrients. Therefore repair, particularly in the setting of ischemic damage, may require delivery of multiple cell types providing new vessel formation, a new microenvironment and functional cells. The field of stem cell biology has identified a number of stem cell sources including embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells that offer the potential to replace virtually all functional cells of the body. The focus of this article is a discussion of the potential of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) from cord blood (CB) for regenerative medicine approaches.

Cytotherapy. 2015 Jun; 17(6): 796-802.

Advances in umbilical cord blood stem cell expansion and clinical translation.

Umbilical cord blood (CB) is a rich source of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) with important applications in allogeneic stem cell transplantation. However, the low numbers of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) in banked units remain a major limitation. Protocols developed for HSPC expansion ex vivo or to improve HSPC homing to the marrow represent solutions to overcome this shortcoming. In recent decades, wide arrays of functionally divergent approaches were developed for the amplification of HSPCs. These include optimization of cytokine cocktails, coculture systems, small molecules, and delivery systems for HSPC-expansion genes. Herein, we review past and current strategies, focusing on studies that characterize the contribution of expanded CB HSPC to short- and long-term engraftment in transplantation models or in clinical trials. Also discussed are homing effectors used to promote engraftment. In summary, these studies underscore that early-acting cytokines alone can expand HSPC with short-term engraftment activity, but that robust expansion of HSPCs with long-term engraftment necessitates the synergistic action of multiple HSC-expansion agonists. In support of this, early clinical trials based on cytokine-driven HSPC-expansion protocols delivered disappointing results, whereas recent trials based on the synergistic action of cytokines and HSPC-expansion agonists reported significant improvements in engraftment and therapeutic outcomes. Conversely, molecules that enhance homing of HSPC may represent a complementary approach to improve and perhaps accelerate engraftment. Optimization of the next generation of HSPC-expansion and priming strategies should support a paradigm shift in CB transplantation in which smaller, better matched units may preferentially be used.

Exp Hematol. 2015 Jul; 43(7): 498-513.

Impact of HLA in cord blood transplantation outcomes.

Umbilical cord blood (UCB) emerged in the last 20 years as a valid alternative source of hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) in allogeneic transplantation setting, mainly in the absence of a fully human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-matched sibling. The probability of finding a matched unrelated donor through the registries varies from 20 to 70%, depending on the ethnicity of the patients. Therefore, patients in need may benefit of an HLA-mismatched hematopoietic stem cell transplantation from haploidentical donors or from UCB. One of the advantages of using UCB is the lower incidence of acute graft-versus-host-disease and allowance of greater HLA mismatch. Conversely, the low number of HSCs and lymphocytes and specific immunological features of T cells are associated with delayed engraftment and immune reconstitution and consequently, increased opportunistic infections. Nevertheless, retrospective studies showed similar results comparing UCB with other stem cell sources, both in pediatric and adult setting. The ability to use partially HLA-matched UCB units allows expanding the donor pool. Many UCB banks have strategies to increase their inventory including UCB grafts that have rare haplotypes. HLA and cell dose are very important factors associated with outcomes after umbilical cord blood transplantation (UCBT) that interact with each other. Increasing cell dose counterbalances the number of HLA disparities. Understanding those interactions, the role of HLA mismatches and other immunogenic factors, are important to allow clinicians to choose the best cord blood graft for patients. This review will describe the role of HLA in UCBT setting.

Hla. 2016 Jun; 87(6): 413-421.

Nuclear Reprogramming by Defined Factors: Quantity Versus Quality.

The generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and directly converted cells holds great promise in regenerative medicine. However, after in-depth studies of the murine system, we know that the current methodologies to produce these cells are not ideal and mostly yield cells of poor quality that might hold a risk in therapeutic applications. In this review we address the duality found in the literature regarding the use of ‘quality’ as a criterion for the clinic. We discuss the elements that influence reprogramming quality, and provide evidence that safety and functionality are directly linked to cell quality. Finally, because most of the available data come from murine systems, we speculate about what aspects can be applied to human cells.

Trends Cell Biol. 2016 Jan; 26(1): 65-75.

Stem Cell Therapies in Clinical Trials: Progress and Challenges.

Clinical investigations using stem cell products in regenerative medicine are addressing a wide spectrum of conditions using a variety of stem cell types. To date, there have been few reports of safety issues arising from autologous or allogeneic transplants. Many cells administered show transient presence for a few days with trophic influences on immune or inflammatory responses. Limbal stem cells have been registered as a product for eye burns in Europe and mesenchymal stem cells have been approved for pediatric graft versus host disease in Canada and New Zealand. Many other applications are progressing in trials, some with early benefits to patients.

Cell Stem Cell. 2015 Jul 2; 17(1): 11-22.

Pomegranate and Cancer

Pomegranate exerts chemoprevention of experimentally induced mammary tumorigenesis by suppression of cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in women in the United States and discovery and development of safe chemopreventive drugs is urgently needed. The fruit pomegranate (Punica granatum) is gaining importance because of its various health benefits. This study was initiated to investigate chemopreventive potential of a pomegranate emulsion (PE) against 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene (DMBA) rat mammary carcinogenesis. The animals were orally administered with PE (0.2-5.0 g/kg), starting 2 wk before and 16 wk following DMBA treatment. PE exhibited a striking reduction of DMBA-induced mammary tumor incidence, total tumor burden, and reversed histopathological changes. PE dose-dependently suppressed cell proliferation and induced apoptosis in mammary tumors. Immunohistochemical studies showed that PE increased intratumor Bax, decreased Bcl2 and manifested a proapoptotic shift in Bax/Bcl2 ratio. In addition, our gene expression study showed PE-mediated upregulation of Bad, caspase-3, caspase-7, caspase-9, poly (ADP ribose) polymerase and cytochrome c in mammary tumors. Thus, PE exerts chemoprevention of mammary carcinogenesis by suppressing cell proliferation and inducing apoptosis mediated through upregulation of Bax and downregulation of Bcl2 in concert with caspase cascades. Pomegranate bioactive phytoconstituents could be developed as a chemopreventive drug to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Nutr Cancer. 2016 Jan; 68(1): 120-130.

Role of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha and gamma in antiangiogenic effect of pomegranate peel extract.

OBJECTIVES: Herbal medicines are promising cancer preventive candidates. It has been shown that Punica granatum L. could inhibit angiogenesis and tumor invasion. In this study, we investigated whether the anti-angiogenic effect of pomegranate peel extract (PPE) is partly attributable to Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) activation in the Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells (HUVECs). MATERIALS AND METHODS: Ethanol extract from PPE was prepared. HUVECs were treated in four groups (with PPE (10 mug/ml) alone, PPE with or without PPARgamma (T0070907) and alpha (GW6471) antagonists, and control group). The possible effect of PPARs on angiogenic regulation was checked by Matrigel assay. The mRNA expression levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) was detected by Quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (QRT-PCR). RESULTS: PPE significantly inhibited both tube formation (size, length, and junction of tubes) and VEGF mRNA expression (P<0.05). Our results showed that the anti-angiogenic effects of PPE were significantly reversed by both PPAR antagonists (P<0.05). There was no difference between PPE plus antagonists groups and the control group. CONCLUSION: In summary our results showed that the anti-angiogenic effects of PPE could be mediated in part through PPAR dependent pathway.

Iran J Basic Med Sci. 2016 Jan; 19(1): 106-110.

Comparison of anti-inflammatory mechanisms of mango (Mangifera Indica L.) and pomegranate (Punica Granatum L.) in a preclinical model of colitis.

SCOPE: Tannin-rich fruits have been evaluated as alternative prevention strategies for colorectal cancer based on their anti-inflammatory properties. This study compared tannin-rich preparations from mango (rich in gallotannins) and pomegranate (rich in ellagitannins) in the dextran sodium sulfate-induced colitis model. METHODS AND RESULTS: In rats, mango and pomegranate beverages decreased intestinal inflammation and the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in mucosa and serum. The mango beverage suppressed the ratio of phosphorylated/total protein expression of the IGF-1R-AKT/mTOR axis and down-regulated mRNA expression of Igf1, Insr, and pik3cv. Pomegranate decreased p70S6K and RPS6, as well as Rps6ka2, Map2k2, and Mapk1 mRNA. In silico modeling indicated a high binding-docked of gallic acid to the catalytic domain of IGF-1R, which may suppress the activity of the enzyme. Ellagic acid docked effectively into the catalytic domains of both IGF-1R and EGFR. In vitro assays with lipopolysaccharide-treated CCD-18Co cells using polyphenolic extracts from each beverage, as well as pure compounds, corroborated the predictions made in silico. CONCLUSION: Mango polyphenols inhibited the IGF-1R- AKT/mTOR axis, and pomegranate polyphenols downregulate the mTOR downstream pathway through reductions in ERK1/2. These results suggest that extracts rich in gallo- and ellagitannins act on different molecular targets in the protection against ulcerative colitis. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2016 Mar 29.

Apoptotic effects of non-edible parts of Punica granatum on human multiple myeloma cells.

Multiple myeloma is of great concern since existing therapies are unable to cure this clinical condition. Alternative therapeutic approaches are mandatory, and the use of plant extracts is considered interesting. Punica granatum and its derived products were suggested as potential anticancer agents due to the presence of bioactive compounds. Thus, polypenolic-rich extracts of the non-edible parts of P. granatum were investigated for their antiproliferative and apoptotic effects on U266 multiple myeloma cells. We demonstrated that there were dose-dependent decreases in the proliferation of U266 cells in response to P. granatum extracts. Also, exposure to the extracts triggered apoptosis with significant increases in loss of mitochondrial membrane potential in U266 cells exposed to the leaves and stem extracts, while the flower extract resulted in slight increases in loss of MMP. These results were confirmed by Annexin-V analysis. These results documented the cytotoxic and apoptotic effects of P. granatum extracts on human U266 multiple myeloma cells via disruption of mitochondrial membrane potential and increasing cell cycle arrest. The data suggest that the extracts can be envisaged in cancer chemoprevention and call for further exploration into the potential application of these plant parts.

Tumour Biol. 2016 Feb; 37(2): 1803-1815.

Punica granatum (pomegranate) leaves extract induces apoptosis through mitochondrial intrinsic pathway and inhibits migration and invasion in non-small cell lung cancer in vitro.

Most conventional treatments on non-small cell lung carcinoma always accompany with awful side effects, and the incidence and mortality rates of this cancer are increasing rapidly worldwide. The objective of this study was to examine the anticancer effects of extract of Punica granatum (pomegranate) leaves extract (PLE) on the non-small cell lung carcinoma cell line A549, H1299 and mouse Lewis lung carcinoma cell line LL/2 in vitro, and explore its mechanisms of action. Our results have shown that PLE inhibited cell proliferation in non-small cell lung carcinoma cell line in a concentration- and time-dependent manner. Flow cytometry (FCM) assay showed that PLE affected H1299 cell survival by arresting cell cycle progression in G2/M phase in a dose-dependent manner and inducing apoptosis. Moreover, PLE could also decrease the reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the mitochondrial membrane potential (DeltaYm), indicating that PLE may induce apoptosis via mitochondria-mediated apoptotic pathway. Furthermore, PLE blocked H1299 cell migration and invasion, and the reduction of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) MMP-2 and MMP-9 expression were also observed in vitro. These results suggested that PLE could be an effective and safe chemotherapeutic agent in non-small cell lung carcinoma treatment by inhibiting proliferation, inducing apoptosis, cell cycle arrest and impairing cell migration and invasion.

Biomed Pharmacother. 2016 May; 80: 227-235.

In vivo relevant mixed urolithins and ellagic acid inhibit phenotypic and molecular colon cancer stem cell features: A new potentiality for ellagitannin metabolites against cancer.

Colon cancer stem cells (CSCs) offer a novel paradigm for colorectal cancer (CRC) treatment and dietary polyphenols may contribute to battle these cells. Specifically, polyphenol-derived colon metabolites have the potential to interact with and affect colon CSCs. We herein report the effects against colon CSCs of two mixtures of ellagitannin (ET) metabolites, ellagic acid (EA) and the gut microbiota-derived urolithins (Uro) at concentrations detected in the human colon tissues following the intake of ET-containing products (pomegranate, walnuts). These mixtures reduce phenotypic and molecular features in two models of colon CSCs: Caco-2 cells and primary tumour cells from a patient with CRC. The mixture containing mostly Uro-A (85% Uro-A, 10% Uro-C, 5% EA) was most effective at inhibiting the number and size of colonospheres and aldehyde dehydrogenase activity (ALDH, a marker of chemoresistance) whereas the mixture containing less Uro-A but IsoUro-A and Uro-B (30% Uro-A, 50% IsoUro-A, 10% Uro-B, 5% Uro-C, 5% EA) had some effects on the number and size of colonospheres but not on ALDH. These data support a role for polyphenols metabolites in the control of colon cancer chemoresistance and relapse and encourage the research on the effects of polyphenols against CSCs.

Food Chem Toxicol. 2016 Jun; 92: 8-16.

Potential Effects of Pomegranate Polyphenols in Cancer Prevention and Therapy.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death and is becoming the leading one in old age. Vegetable and fruit consumption is inversely associated with cancer incidence and mortality. Currently, interest in a number of fruits high in polyphenols has been raised due to their reported chemopreventive and/or chemotherapeutic potential. Pomegranate has been shown to exert anticancer activity, which is generally attributed to its high content of polyphenols. This review provides a comprehensive analysis of known targets and mechanisms along with a critical evaluation of pomegranate polyphenols as future anticancer agents. Pomegranate evokes antiproliferative, anti-invasive, and antimetastatic effects, induces apoptosis through the modulation of Bcl-2 proteins, upregulates p21 and p27, and downregulates cyclin-cdk network. Furthermore, pomegranate blocks the activation of inflammatory pathways including, but not limited to, the NF-kappaB pathway. The strongest evidence for its anticancer activity comes from studies on prostate cancer. Accordingly, some exploratory clinical studies investigating pomegranate found a trend of efficacy in increasing prostate-specific antigen doubling time in patients with prostate cancer. However, the genotoxicity reported for pomegranate raised certain concerns over its safety and an accurate assessment of the risk/benefit should be performed before suggesting the use of pomegranate or its polyphenols for cancer-related therapeutic purposes.

Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2015 2015: 938475.

Evidence of pomegranate methanolic extract in antagonizing the endogenous SERM, 27-hydroxycholesterol.

The direct relationship between obesity and breast cancer has been elucidated recently with the identification of a cholesterol derivative 27-hydroxycholesterol (27HC), an endogenous SERM that can act through estrogen receptor (ER)-mediated mechanisms. Our recent research shed light on the possible SERM-like property of methanol extract of pericarp of pomegranate (PME) by using human breast (MCF-7, MDA-MB-231), endometrial (HEC-1A), cervical (SiHa, HeLa), ovarian (SKOV3) cancer cell lines, normal breast fibroblasts (MCF-10A) and also by in vivo models (ovariectomized Swiss albino mice). Our findings demonstrated that PME binds to ER and downregulates the Estrogen response elements (ERE)-mediated transcription in breast cancer cells without being agonistic in the uterine endometrium and has cardioprotective effects comparable to that of 17-beta-estradiol. This preliminary work indicates the ability of PME to antagonize the activity of 27HC. We hypothesize that PME can compete with 27HC for ERalpha and reduce 27HC-induced proliferation of MCF-7 cells. Relevant estrogen-regulated genes such as pS2, PR and ERalpha were checked to evaluate the ability of PME to abrogate 27HC-induced genes. This study is significant, being the first report describing that bioactive components of the methanolic extract of pericarp of PME, a proven SERM could plausibly compete for 27HC.

IUBMB Life. 2016 Feb; 68(2): 116-121.


Assessing the efficacy of melatonin to curtail benzodiazepine/Z drug abuse.

The abuse of benzodiazepine (BZP) and Z drugs has become, due to the tolerance and dependence they produce, a serious public health problem. Thirty years ago, we demonstrated in experimental animals the interaction of melatonin with central BZD receptors, and in 1997 we published the first series of elderly patients who reduced BZP consumption after melatonin treatment. Almost every single neuron in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN), the central pacemaker of the circadian system, contains gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and many results in animals point out to a melatonin interaction with GABA-containing neurons. In addition, central-type BZD antagonism, that obliterates GABAA receptor function, blunted most behavioral effects of melatonin including sleep. Melatonin is involved in the regulation of human sleep. This is supported by the temporal relationship between the rise of plasma melatonin levels and sleep propensity as well as by the sleep-promoting effects of exogenously administered melatonin. Both meta-analyses and consensus agreements give support to the therapeutic use of melatonin in sleep disorders. This action is attributed to MT1 and MT2 melatoninergic receptors localized in the SCN, as well as in other brain areas. This review discusses available data on the efficacy of melatonin to curtail chronic BZD/Z drug use in insomnia patients. A major advantage is that melatonin has a very safe profile, it is usually remarkably well tolerated and, in some studies, it has been administered to patients at very large doses and for long periods of time, without any potentiality of abuse. Further studies on this application of melatonin are warranted.

Pharmacol Res. 2016 Jul; 109: 12-23.

Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment With Ashwagandha Root Extract: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial.

Chronic stress has been associated with a number of illnesses, including obesity. Ashwagandha is a well-known adaptogen and known for reducing stress and anxiety in humans. The objective of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a standardized root extract of Ashwagandha through a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. A total of 52 subjects under chronic stress received either Ashwagandha (300 mg) or placebo twice daily. Primary efficacy measures were Perceived Stress Scale and Food Cravings Questionnaire. Secondary efficacy measures were Oxford Happiness Questionnaire, Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire, serum cortisol, body weight, and body mass index. Each subject was assessed at the start and at 4 and 8 weeks. The treatment with Ashwagandha resulted in significant improvements in primary and secondary measures. Also, the extract was found to be safe and tolerable. The outcome of this study suggests that Ashwagandha root extract can be used for body weight management in adults under chronic stress.

J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2016 Apr 6.

Unique Medicinal Properties of Withania somnifera: Phytochemical Constituents and Protein Component.

Withania somnifera is an important medicinal herb that has been widely used for the treatment of different clinical conditions. The overall medicinal properties of Withania somnifera make it a viable therapeutic agent for addressing anxiety, cancer, microbial infection, immunomodulation, and neurodegenerative disorders. Biochemical constituents of Withania somnifera like withanolideA, withanolide D, withaferin A and withaniamides play an important role in its pharmacological properties. Proteins like Withania somnifera glycoprotein and withania lectin like-protein possess potent therapeutic properties like antimicrobial, anti-snake venom poison and antimicrobial. In this review, we have tried to present different pharmacological properties associated with different extract preparations, phytochemical constituents and protein component of Withania somnifera. Future insights in this direction have also been highlighted.

Curr Pharm Des. 2016 22(5): 535-540.

Aqueous Leaf Extract of Withania somnifera as a Potential Neuroprotective Agent in Sleep-deprived Rats: a Mechanistic Study.

Modern lifestyle and sustained stress of professional commitments in the current societal set up often disrupts the normal sleep cycle and duration which is known to lead to cognitive impairments. In the present study, we report whether leaf extract of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) has potential neuroprotective role in acute stress of sleep deprivation. Experiments were performed on three groups of adult Wistar rats: group 1 (vehicle treated-undisturbed sleep [VUD]), group 2 (vehicle treated-sleep deprived [VSD]), and group 3 (ASH-WEX treated-sleep deprived [WSD]). Groups 1 and 2 received single oral feeding of vehicle and group 3 received ASH-WEX orally (140 mg/kg or 1 ml/250 g of body weight) for 15 consecutive days. Immediately after this regimen, animals from group 1 were allowed undisturbed sleep (between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.), whereas rats of groups 2 and 3 were deprived of sleep during this period. We observed that WSD rats showed significant improvement in their performance in behavioral tests as compared to VSD group. At the molecular level, VSD rats showed acute change in the expression of proteins involved in synaptic plasticity, cell survival, and apoptosis in the hippocampus region of brain, which was suppressed by ASH-WEX treatment thus indicating decreased cellular stress and apoptosis in WSD group. This data suggest that Ashwagandha may be a potential agent to suppress the acute effects of sleep loss on learning and memory impairments and may emerge as a novel supplement to control SD-induced cognitive impairments.

Mol Neurobiol. 2016 Apr 1.

Sleep Deprivation and Circadian Disruption: Stress, Allostasis, and Allostatic Load.

Sleep has important homeostatic functions, and circadian rhythms organize physiology and behavior on a daily basis to insure optimal function. Sleep deprivation and circadian disruption can be stressors, enhancers of other stressors that have consequences for the brain and many body systems. Whether the origins of circadian disruption and sleep disruption and deprivation are from anxiety, depression, shift work, long-distance air travel, or a hectic lifestyle, there are consequences that impair brain functions and contribute to the cumulative wear and tear on body systems caused by too much stress and/or inefficient management of the systems that promote adaptation.

Sleep Med Clin. 2015 Mar; 10(1): 1-10.

Stress, arousal, and sleep.

Stress is considered to be an important cause of disrupted sleep and insomnia. However, controlled and experimental studies in rodents indicate that effects of stress on sleep-wake regulation are complex and may strongly depend on the nature of the stressor. While most stressors are associated with at least a brief period of arousal and wakefulness, the subsequent amount and architecture of recovery sleep can vary dramatically across conditions even though classical markers of acute stress such as corticosterone are virtually the same. Sleep after stress appears to be highly influenced by situational variables including whether the stressor was controllable and/or predictable, whether the individual had the possibility to learn and adapt, and by the relative resilience and vulnerability of the individual experiencing stress. There are multiple brain regions and neurochemical systems linking stress and sleep, and the specific balance and interactions between these systems may ultimately determine the alterations in sleep-wake architecture. Factors that appear to play an important role in stress-induced wakefulness and sleep changes include various monominergic neurotransmitters, hypocretins, corticotropin releasing factor, and prolactin. In addition to the brain regions directly involved in stress responses such as the hypothalamus, the locus coeruleus, and the amygdala, differential effects of stressor controllability on behavior and sleep may be mediated by the medial prefrontal cortex. These various brain regions interact and influence each other and in turn affect the activity of sleep-wake controlling centers in the brain. Also, these regions likely play significant roles in memory processes and participate in the way stressful memories may affect arousal and sleep. Finally, stress-induced changes in sleep-architecture may affect sleep-related neuronal plasticity processes and thereby contribute to cognitive dysfunction and psychiatric disorders.

Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2015 25: 379-410.

Updates on Nutraceutical Sleep Therapeutics and Investigational Research.

Approximately 50% of the population will suffer from a sleep disorder over the course of their lifetime. There is increasing interest in nutraceuticals for these conditions. The quality of the evidence for the safety and effectiveness of using these supplements to treat sleep disorders varies substantially. In this review, we discuss the data about the effectiveness and safety of six commonly used plant-based sleep therapeutics: caffeine, chamomile, cherries, kava kava, L-tryptophan, marijuana, and valerian. We explore both historical uses of each substance and the current state of the literature.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015 2015: 105256.

Eye Cream

UV radiation and the skin.

UV radiation (UV) is classified as a “complete carcinogen” because it is both a mutagen and a non-specific damaging agent and has properties of both a tumor initiator and a tumor promoter. In environmental abundance, UV is the most important modifiable risk factor for skin cancer and many other environmentally-influenced skin disorders. However, UV also benefits human health by mediating natural synthesis of vitamin D and endorphins in the skin, therefore UV has complex and mixed effects on human health. Nonetheless, excessive exposure to UV carries profound health risks, including atrophy, pigmentary changes, wrinkling and malignancy. UV is epidemiologically and molecularly linked to the three most common types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma, which together affect more than a million Americans annually. Genetic factors also influence risk of UV-mediated skin disease. Polymorphisms of the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) gene, in particular, correlate with fairness of skin, UV sensitivity, and enhanced cancer risk. We are interested in developing UV-protective approaches based on a detailed understanding of molecular events that occur after UV exposure, focusing particularly on epidermal melanization and the role of the MC1R in genome maintenance.

Int J Mol Sci. 2013 14(6): 12222-12248.

Anti-inflammatory effects of Siegesbeckia orientalis ethanol extract in in vitro and in vivo models.

This study aims to investigate the anti-inflammatory responses and mechanisms of Siegesbeckia orientalis ethanol extract (SOE). In cell culture experiments, RAW264.7 cells were pretreated with SOE and stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) for inflammatory mediators assay. In animal experiments, mice were tube-fed with SOE for 1 week, and s.c. injected with lambda-carrageenan or i.p. injected with LPS to simulate inflammation. The degree of paw edema was assessed, and cytokine profile in sera and mouse survival were recorded. Data showed that SOE significantly reduced NO, IL-6, and TNF-alpha production in LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 cells. In vivo studies demonstrated that mice supplemented with 32 mg SOE/kg BW/day significantly lowered sera IL-6 level and resulted a higher survival rate compared to the control group (P = 0.019). Furthermore, SOE inhibited LPS-induced NF-kappaB activation by blocking the degradation of IkappaB-alpha. The SOE also reduced significantly the phosphorylation of ERK1/2, p38, and JNK in a dose-dependent manner. In summary, the in vitro and in vivo evidence indicate that SOE can attenuate acute inflammation by inhibiting inflammatory mediators via suppression of MAPKs- and NF-kappaB-dependent pathways.

Biomed Res Int. 2014 2014: 329712.

Cross-linking of structural proteins in ageing skin: an in situ assay for the detection of amine oxidase activity.

With increasing age, dynamic tissues such as lungs, blood vessels and skin lose their ability to both deform and recoil, culminating in tissue stiffening. This loss of tissue elasticity, which profoundly impacts tissue function and thus morbidity, may be due not only to changes in the relative abundance of key extracellular matrix proteins within tissues but also to their accumulation of post-translational modifications. Whilst to date attention has focussed primarily on the age-related non-enzymatic formation of advanced glycation end products, the accumulation of pathological enzyme-mediated cross-links may also lead to age-related tissue stiffening. The lysyl oxidase (LOX) family of enzymes are constitutively expressed in adult tissues and are known to drive the catalysis of cross-links in both fibrillar collagens and elastin. Although immunochemical approaches are commonly used to localise the inactive pro-enzyme of LOX, and biochemical methods are employed to quantify activity in homogenised tissue, they do not allow for the in situ localisation of the enzyme. Thus, we have developed a novel assay to both detect and localise LOX enzyme activity in situ. LOX family members are amine oxidases and this assay uses the principle that an amine substrate in the presence of this class of enzyme will be oxidised to an aldehyde and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). In turn, H2O2, when combined with luminol and horseradish peroxidase, will produce a light-emitting reaction that can be detected by film autoradiography. The development of a technique to localise specific amine oxidase activity in tissue sections may provide crucial additional information on the exact role played by this class of enzymes in mediating age-related tissue stiffening.

Biogerontology. 2013 Feb; 14(1): 89-97.

Evaluation of effect of oleuropein on skin wound healing in aged male BALB/c mice.

OBJECTIVE: Olive oil and olive leaf extract are used for treatment of skin diseases and wounds in Iran. The main component of olive leaf extract is Oleuropein. This research is focused on the effects of Oleuropein on skin wound healing in aged male Balb/c mice. MATERIALS AND METHODS: In this experimental study, Oleuropein was provided by Razi Herbal Medicine Institute, Lorestan, Iran.Twenty four male Balb/c mice, 16 months of age, were divided equally into control and experimental groups.Under ether anesthesia, the hairs on the back of neck of all groups were shaved and a 1 cm long full-thickness incision was made.The incision was then left un-sutured. The experimental group received intradermal injections with a daily single dose of 50 mg/kg Oleuropein for a total period of 7 days.The control group received only distilled water. On days 3 and 7 after making the incision and injections, mice were sacrificed, and the skin around incision area was dissected and stained by hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) and Van Gieson’s methods for tissue analysis.In addition, western blot analysis was carried out to evaluate the level of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) protein expression. The statistical analysis was performed using SPSS (SPSS Inc., Chicago, USA). The t test was applied to assess the significance of changes between control and experimental groups. RESULTS: Oleuropein not only reduced cell infiltration in the wound site on days 3 and 7 post incision, but also a significant increase in collagen fiber deposition and more advanced re- epithelialization were observed (p<0.05) in the experimental group as compared to the control group. The difference of hair follicles was not significant between the two groups at the same period of time. Furthermore, western blot analysis showed an increased in VEGF protein level from samples collected on days 3 and 7 post-incision of experimental group as compared to the control group (p<0.05). CONCLUSION: These results suggest that Oleuropein accelerates skin wound healing in aged male Balb/c mice. These findings can be useful for clinical application of Oleuropein in expediting wound healing after surgery.

Cell J. 2014 Feb 3; 16(1): 25-30.

Skin aging by glycation: lessons from the reconstructed skin model.

BACKGROUND: Aging is the result of several mechanisms which operate simultaneously. Among them, glycation is of particular interest because it is a reaction which affects slowly renewing tissues and macromolecules with elevated half-life, like the dermis, a skin compartment highly affected by aging. Glycation produces crosslinks between macromolecules thereby providing an explanation for the increased age-related stiffness of the skin. Glycation products, also called AGEs (advanced glycation end products), accumulate primarily in extracellular matrix molecules like collagen or elastin. METHODS: In order to reproduce this phenomenon in vitro we have created a model of reconstructed skin modified by glycation of the collagen used to fabricate the dermal compartment. RESULTS: This system allowed us to uncover biological modifications of dermal markers, and more surprisingly epidermal markers, as well as an increase of metalloproteinases responsible for degradation of the dermal matrix. Consequently, the imbalance between synthesis and degradation that results from glycation, may contribute to skin aging, as shown in this model. Moreover these modifications were shown to be prevented by the addition of aminoguanidine, a well-known inhibitor of glycation. CONCLUSIONS: Using this experimental approach our results taken together stress the importance and possibly central role of glycation in skin aging and the usefulness of the reconstructed skin as a model of physiological aging.

Clin Chem Lab Med. 2014 Jan 1; 52(1): 169-174.

Methods for obtaining and determination of squalene from natural sources.

Squalene is a natural dehydrotriterpenic hydrocarbon (C30H50) with six double bonds, known as an intermediate in the biosynthesis of phytosterol or cholesterol in plants or animals. We have briefly reviewed the natural sources for squalene and focused on the main methods and techniques to obtain and to determine it. Some of its applications in different fields of human activity are also mentioned.

Biomed Res Int. 2015 2015: 367202.

Environmental influences on skin aging and ethnic-specific manifestations.

Skin aging does not only occur by passing time alone but also by the exposure to different environmental factors. The skin aging process, which is induced by environmental factors, is named premature or extrinsic skin aging process and can be distinguished from the chronologically (intrinsic) skin aging process by characteristic skin aging signs. Well known environmental factors leading to extrinsic skin aging are sun exposure and smoking. Recently, an epidemiological study could further discover an association between air pollution and skin aging. First of all the skin aging inducing effect of sun exposure was discovered and an own term (photoaging) was given to this special field of extrinsic skin aging. Mechanistic studies have further increased our knowledge about the molecular pathways by which environmental factors contribute to extrinsic skin aging. In this regard, profound knowledge how sun exposure leads to extrinsic skin aging were gained in the last years, and additionally there are also indications how smoking and air pollution might contribute to this process. Moreover it was realized that extrinsic skin aging manifests differently between different populations. Thus, in this review we summarize the influence of the different environmental factors: sun exposure, smoking and air pollution on skin aging and further present ethnic-specific manifestations of extrinsic skin aging.

Dermatoendocrinol. 2012 Jul 1; 4(3): 227-231.

Blood Pressure

Prehypertension—prevalence, health risks, and management strategies.

Prehypertension (blood pressure 120-139/80-89 mmHg) affects ~25-50% of adults worldwide, and increases the risk of incident hypertension. The relative risk of incident hypertension declines by ~20% with intensive lifestyle intervention, and by 34-66% with single antihypertensive medications. To prevent one case of incident hypertension in adults with prehypertension and a 50% 5-year risk of hypertension, 10 individuals would need to receive intensive lifestyle intervention, and four to six patients would need to be treated with antihypertensive medication. The relative risk of incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) is greater with ‘stage 2’ (130-139/85-89 mmHg) than ‘stage 1’ (120-129/80-84 mmHg) prehypertension; only stage 2 prehypertension increases cardiovascular mortality. Among individuals with prehypertension, the 10-year absolute CVD risk for middle-aged adults without diabetes mellitus or CVD is ~10%, and ~40% for middle-aged and older individuals with either or both comorbidities. Antihypertensive medications reduce the relative risk of CVD and death by ~15% in secondary-prevention studies of prehypertension. Data on primary prevention of CVD with pharmacotherapy in prehypertension are lacking. Risk-stratified, patient-centred, comparative-effectiveness research is needed in prehypertension to inform an acceptable, safe, and effective balance of lifestyle and medication interventions to prevent incident hypertension and CVD.

Nat Rev Cardiol. 2015 May; 12(5): 289-300.

Genotoxicity evaluation of the flavonoid, myricitrin, and its aglycone, myricetin.

Myricitrin, a flavonoid extracted from the fruit, leaves, and bark of Chinese bayberry (Myrica rubra SIEBOLD), is currently used as a flavor modifier in snack foods, dairy products, and beverages in Japan. Myricitrin is converted to myricetin by intestinal microflora; myricetin also occurs ubiquitously in plants and is consumed in fruits, vegetables, and beverages. The genotoxic potential of myricitrin and myricetin was evaluated in anticipation of worldwide marketing of food products containing myricitrin. In a bacterial reverse mutation assay, myricetin tested positive for frameshift mutations under metabolic activation conditions whereas myricitrin tested negative for mutagenic potential. Both myricitrin and myricetin induced micronuclei formation in human TK6 lymphoblastoid cells under conditions lacking metabolic activation; however, the negative response observed in the presence of metabolic activation suggests that rat liver S9 homogenate may detoxify reactive metabolites of these chemicals in mammalian cells. In 3-day combined micronucleus/Comet assays using male and female B6C3F1 mice, no induction of micronuclei was observed in peripheral blood, or conclusive evidence of damage detected in the liver, glandular stomach, or duodenum following exposure to myricitrin or myricetin. Our studies did not reveal evidence of genotoxic potential of myricitrin in vivo, supporting its safe use in food and beverages.

Food Chem Toxicol. 2015 Sep; 83: 283-292.

Prehypertension and incidence of cardiovascular disease: a meta-analysis.

BACKGROUND: Prospective cohort studies of prehypertension and the incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) are controversial after adjusting for other cardiovascular risk factors. This meta-analysis evaluated the association between prehypertension and CVD morbidity. METHODS: Databases (PubMed, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library) and conference proceedings were searched for prospective cohort studies with data on prehypertension and cardiovascular morbidity. Two independent reviewers assessed the reports and extracted data. The relative risks (RRs) of CVD, coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke morbidity were calculated and reported with 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs). Subgroup analyses were conducted on blood pressure, age, gender, ethnicity, follow-up duration, number of participants and study quality. RESULTS: Pooled data included the results from 468,561 participants from 18 prospective cohort studies. Prehypertension elevated the risks of CVD (RR = 1.55; 95% CI = 1.41 to 1.71); CHD (RR = 1.50; 95% CI = 1.30 to 1.74); and stroke (RR = 1.71; 95% CI = 1.55 to 1.89). In the subgroup analyses, even for low-range prehypertension, the risk of CVD was significantly higher than for optimal BP (RR = 1.46, 95% CI = 1.32 to 1.62), and further increased with high-range prehypertension (RR = 1.80, 95% CI = 1.41 to 2.31). The relative risk was significantly higher in the high-range prehypertensive populations than in the low-range populations (chi2= 5.69, P = 0.02). There were no significant differences among the other subgroup analyses (P>0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Prehypertension, even in the low range, elevates the risk of CVD after adjusting for multiple cardiovascular risk factors.

BMC Med. 2013 11: 177.

Telmisartan enhances mitochondrial activity and alters cellular functions in human coronary artery endothelial cells via AMP-activated protein kinase pathway.

OBJECTIVE: Mitochondrial dysfunction plays an important role in cellular senescence and impaired function of vascular endothelium, resulted in cardiovascular diseases. Telmisartan is a unique angiotensin II type I receptor blocker that has been shown to prevent cardiovascular events in high risk patients. AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) plays a critical role in mitochondrial biogenesis and endothelial function. This study assessed whether telmisartan enhances mitochondrial function and alters cellular functions via AMPK in human coronary artery endothelial cells (HCAECs). METHODS AND RESULTS: In cultured HCAECs, telmisartan significantly enhanced mitochondrial activity assessed by mitochondrial reductase activity and intracellular ATP production and increased the expression of mitochondria related genes. Telmisartan prevented cellular senescence and exhibited the anti-apoptotic and pro-angiogenic properties. The expression of genes related anti-oxidant and pro-angiogenic properties were increased by telmisartan. Telmisartan increased endothelial NO synthase and AMPK phosphorylation. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma signaling was not involved in telmisartan-induced improvement of mitochondrial function. All of these effects were abolished by inhibition of AMPK. CONCLUSIONS: Telmisartan enhanced mitochondrial activity and exhibited anti-senescence effects and improving endothelial function through AMPK in HCAECs. Telmisartan could provide beneficial effects on vascular diseases via enhancement of mitochondrial activity and modulating endothelial function through AMPK activation.

Atherosclerosis. 2015 Apr; 239(2): 375-385.

Melatonin prevents kidney injury in a high salt diet-induced hypertension model by decreasing oxidative stress.

Melatonin, a potent antioxidant molecule, plays a role in blood pressure regulation. We hypothesized that melatonin may generate a protective effect in a high salt diet (HSD) rodent model mediated by decreasing renal oxidative stress. Dahl salt-sensitive rats were divided into three groups according to diet: normal chow (control); HSD; HSD with melatonin [30/mg/kg/day]) placed in their water (HSD + Mel) over an 8-wk period. Blood pressure was measured by the tail cuff method. Kidney injury was evaluated by 24 H urine protein excretion. Glomerular injury index (GII) (fibrotic glomeruli/100 glomeruli) was evaluated from a Masson’s trichrome-stained section. Kidney oxidative stress was determined by superoxide production via dihydroethidium staining. Expression of oxidative stress-related genes was measured by reverse transcriptase-qPCR. Melatonin had no effect on blood pressure increase induced by HSD and attenuated proteinuria induced by HSD (HSD--50.7 +/- 12, HSD + Mel--22.3 +/- 4.3, controls--6.5 +/- 1.0 gram protein/gram creatinine, P < 0.001). HSD-induced glomerular damage was significantly diminished by melatonin (GII in HSD--24 +/- 6, HSD + Mel--3.6 +/- 0.8, controls--0.8 +/- 0.5, P < 0.05). Superoxide production was significantly higher in kidneys of HSD fed rats than the controls (99 +/- 9 versus 60 +/- 7 relative fluorescent units (RFU)/mum(2), respectively, P < 0.05). Melatonin also decreased superoxide production (74 +/- 5 RFU/mum(2), P < 0.05). The expression of kidney inducible nitric oxide synthase and p67(phox) mRNA was significantly higher in HSD than in the controls and HSD + Mel rats. Treatment with melatonin eliminated the deleterious effect of HSD in the kidneys of Dahl salt-sensitive rats. The beneficial effect of melatonin is not mediated by lowering blood pressure but by a direct antioxidative effect.

J Pineal Res. 2016 Jan; 60(1): 48-54.

Effect of the natural sweetener, steviol glycoside, on cardiovascular risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised clinical trials.

INTRODUCTION: Many different dietary supplements are currently marketed for the management of hypertension and diabetes, but the evidence for effectiveness is mixed. The objective of this systematic review was to critically appraise and evaluate the evidence for effectiveness of steviol glycosides (stevioside and rebaudioside A) on cardiovascular risk factors, using data from randomised clinical trials (RCTs). METHODS: Electronic searches were conducted in Medline, Embase, Amed, Cinahl and The Cochrane Library. We also searched Google Scholar, and hand searched the bibliography of retrieved full texts. The reporting quality of included studies was assessed using the Cochrane criteria. Two reviewers independently determined the eligibility, assessed the reporting quality, and extracted the data. RESULTS: Nine studies with a total of 756 participants were included. There was a variation in the reporting quality of included studies. Meta-analysis revealed a non-significant difference in systolic blood pressure between steviol glycoside and placebo, mean difference (MD): -2.98 mm Hg (-6.23 to 0.27). Significant reductions in diastolic blood pressure and fasting blood glucose were observed. There was no significant effect on blood lipid profile. Heterogeneity was significant. Adverse events included abdominal fullness, epigastric pain, and dizziness. CONCLUSION: The evidence from published RCTs suggests that stevioside may generate reductions in blood pressure and fasting blood glucose. The sizes of the effects are small, and the substantial heterogeneity limits the robustness of any conclusions. Rebaudioside A does not appear to have any significant effects on blood pressure or cardiovascular risk factors. Available clinical trials vary in design and reporting quality, and some are characterised by inadequate sample sizes. In addition, the participants in most of the trials have high cardiovascular risk. Further clinical trials and regulatory assessments are warranted.

Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2015 Dec; 22(12): 1575-1587.