Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Feb 2016

CoQ10, Hair, Nail, and Skin, Arterial Protection, Macular Degeneration, and Toxins

CoQ10, Hair, Nail, and Skin, Arterial Protection, Macular Degeneration, and Toxins

By Life Extension

CoQ10

Human neuronal coenzyme Q10 deficiency results in global loss of mitochondrial respiratory chain activity, increased mitochondrial oxidative stress and reversal of ATP synthase activity: implications for pathogenesis and treatment.

Disorders of coenzyme Q(10) (CoQ(10)) biosynthesis represent the most treatable subgroup of mitochondrial diseases. Neurological involvement is frequently observed in CoQ(10) deficiency, typically presenting as cerebellar ataxia and/or seizures. The aetiology of the neurological presentation of CoQ(10) deficiency has yet to be fully elucidated and therefore in order to investigate these phenomena we have established a neuronal cell model of CoQ(10) deficiency by treatment of neuronal SH-SY5Y cell line with para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA). PABA is a competitive inhibitor of the CoQ(10) biosynthetic pathway enzyme, COQ2. PABA treatment (1 mM) resulted in a 54 % decrease (46 % residual CoQ(10)) decrease in neuronal CoQ(10) status (p < 0.01). Reduction of neuronal CoQ(10) status was accompanied by a progressive decrease in mitochondrial respiratory chain enzyme activities, with a 67.5% decrease in cellular ATP production at 46 % residual CoQ(10). Mitochondrial oxidative stress increased four-fold at 77% and 46% residual CoQ(10). A 40% increase in mitochondrial membrane potential was detected at 46 % residual CoQ(10) with depolarisation following oligomycin treatment suggesting a reversal of complex V activity. This neuronal cell model provides insights into the effects of CoQ(10) deficiency on neuronal mitochondrial function and oxidative stress, and will be an important tool to evaluate candidate therapies for neurological conditions associated with CoQ(10) deficiency.

J Inherit Metab Dis. 2013 Jan;36(1):63-73

Oral coenzyme Q10 supplementation improves clinical symptoms and recovers pathologic alterations in blood mononuclear cells in a fibromyalgia patient.

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic pain syndrome with unknown etiology. Recent studies have shown evidence demonstrating that mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress may have a role in the pathophysiology of FM. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an essential electron carrier in the mitochondrial respiratory chain and a strong antioxidant. Low CoQ10 levels have been detected in patients with FM, and a significant decrease of clinical symptoms has been reported after oral CoQ10 supplementation. In this report, we show the effect of CoQ10 treatment on clinical symptoms, blood mononuclear cells, and mitochondrial and oxidative stress markers from a woman with FM. After CoQ10 treatment, the patient reported a significant improvement of clinical symptoms. At the cellular level, CoQ10 treatment restored mitochondrial dysfunction and the mtDNA copy number, decreased oxidative stress, and increased mitochondrial biogenesis. Our results suggest that CoQ10 could be an alternative therapeutic approach for FM.

Nutrition. 2012 Nov-Dec;28(11-12):1200-3

Effect of lifelong coenzyme Q10 supplementation on age-related oxidative stress and mitochondrial function in liver and skeletal muscle of rats fed on a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA)-rich diet.

This study investigates aging-related changes in lipid peroxidation and functionality in liver and skeletal-muscle mitochondria in rats fed a diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), depending on supplementation or not with coenzyme Q(10) (CoQ(10)). Two groups of rats were fed for 24 months on a PUFA-rich diet, differing in supplementation or not with CoQ(10). At 6 and 24 months mitochondria were analyzed for fatty acid profile; hydroperoxides; alpha-tocopherol; CoQ(9;) CoQ(10;) cytochromes b, c+c(1), and a+a(3) contents; cytochrome c oxidase activity; and catalase activity in cytosol. Results of this study showed for the supplemented group an age-associated decrease in the peroxidizability index, an increase in catalase activity in skeletal muscle, and modulation of the aging-related changes in different mitochondrial electron-transport-chain components in skeletal muscle. These findings provide mechanisms to explain the effect of CoQ(10) in extending the life span of animals fed a PUFA-rich diet.

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2007 Nov;62(11):1211-8

Coenzyme Q10: clinical benefits with biochemical correlates suggesting a scientific breakthrough in the management of chronic heart failure.

There are obviously several causes of myocardial dysfunction but energy deficiency of the myocytes may play a significant role and probably is a common mechanism during the progression of myocardial failure. Theoretically, a poor utilization efficiency of oxygen may be due to exhaustion of the myocardial stores of bioenergetics. In this report the authors review their biochemical results from measurements of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) levels in blood and human endomyocardial biopsies using an HPLC method from patients with suspected myocardial disease (n = 45). The levels of CoQ10, which has a key role in the respiratory chain and the synthesis of ATP, was found to be significantly decreased in various groups of patients with myocardial failure (dilated and restrictive cardiomyopathy and alcoholic heart disease) as compared to “normal” myocardium (0.42 +/- 0.04 micrograms/mg dry weight). The deficiency of CoQ10 was more pronounced with increasing symptoms; e.g. patients with dilated cardiomyopathy in NYHA Classes III and IV had lower tissue CoQ10 content than those of Classes I and II (0.28 +/- 0.04 vs. 0.37 +/- 0.06 micrograms/mg, p less than 0.001). Nearly two thirds of a series of 40 patients in severe heart failure (Classes III and IV) treated with CoQ10, 100 mg daily, in an open, controlled design showed subjective and objective improvement. Clinical responders were 69% and 43% of patients with cardiomyopathy and ischaemic heart disease, respectively. The results suggest that CoQ10 is a novel and effective breakthrough in heart-failure therapy and it appears safe, as no adverse reactions were registered. The through in heart-failure therapy and it appears safe, as no adverse reactions were registered.

Int J Tissue React. 1990;12(3):155-62

Coenzyme Q, oxidative stress, and aging.

Coenzyme Q (CoQ) has three well-characterized functions in mitochondria, namely (i) transfer of reducing equivalents in the electron transport chain, (ii) generation of superoxide anion radical, O2*-, and (iii) quenching of free radicals. The main purpose of this review is to discuss the effects of CoQ10 intake for relatively prolonged periods on mitochondrial respiratory capacity, indicators of oxidative stress, and life span of animals, in context of the broader issue of whether or not the overall progression of the aging process can be modified by CoQ10 administration. Comparative studies on different mammalian species have indicated that the rate of mitochondrial superoxide anion radical generation is directly correlated with mitochondrial CoQ9 content and inversely related to amounts of CoQ10, particularly the CoQ10 bound to mitochondrial membrane proteins. Contrary to the historical view, dietary supplementation of mice and rats with CoQ10 has been demonstrated to augment the endogenous CoQ content (CoQ9 + CoQ10) in mitochondria and homogenates of various tissues, albeit to varying extent. Ingestion of CoQ10 results in the elevation of endogenous CoQ9, the predominant homologue in mice and rats. In our studies, there was no indication of a discernable effect of CoQ10 intake reflecting enhancement of mitochondrial respiratory activity, antioxidant capacity and pro-oxidant potentiation or prolongation of life span. The possibility that CoQ10 intake affects certain other biological functions by as yet unelucidated mechanisms cannot be ruled out as CoQ has been shown to broadly alter gene expression in mice.

Mitochondrion. 2007 Jun;7 Suppl:S103-11

Cardiovascular mortality and N-terminal-proBNP reduced after combined selenium and coenzyme Q10 supplementation: a 5-year prospective randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial among elderly Swedish citizens.

BACKGROUND: Selenium and coenzyme Q10 are essential for the cell. Low cardiac contents of selenium and coenzyme Q10 have been shown in patients with cardiomyopathy, but inconsistent results are published on the effect of supplementation of the two components separately. A vital relationship exists between the two substances to obtain optimal function of the cell. However, reports on combined supplements are lacking. METHODS: A 5-year prospective randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial among Swedish citizens aged 70 to 88 was performed in 443 participants given combined supplementation of selenium and coenzyme Q10 or a placebo. Clinical examinations, echocardiography and biomarker measurements were performed. Participants were monitored every 6th month throughout the intervention. The cardiac biomarker N-terminal proBNP (NT-proBNP) and echocardiographic changes were monitored and mortalities were registered. End-points of mortality were evaluated by Kaplan-Meier plots and Cox proportional hazard ratios were adjusted for potential confounding factors. Intention-to-treat and per-protocol analyses were applied. RESULTS: During a follow up time of 5.2 years a significant reduction of cardiovascular mortality was found in the active treatment group vs. the placebo group (5.9% vs. 12.6%; P=0.015). NT-proBNP levels were significantly lower in the active group compared with the placebo group (mean values: 214 ng/L vs. 302 ng/L at 48 months; P=0.014). In echocardiography a significant better cardiac function score was found in the active supplementation compared to the placebo group (P=0.03). CONCLUSION: Long-term supplementation of selenium/coenzyme Q10 reduces cardiovascular mortality. The positive effects could also be seen in NT-proBNP levels and on echocardiography.

Int J Cardiol. 2013 Sep 1;167(5):1860-6

Coenzyme Q supplementation protects from age-related DNA double-strand breaks and increases lifespan in rats fed on a PUFA-rich diet.

This study investigates the usefulness of a long-term supplementation with coenzyme Q(10) in rats from the point of view of lifespan, DNA double-strand breaks and to assess whether this supplementation might attenuate oxidative alterations related to PUFA-rich diets, which would allow to preserve beneficial aspects of PUFA on health avoiding their deleterious aspects. Supplemented animals showed higher concentration of coenzyme Q(10) in liver mitochondria, lower levels of DNA double-strand breaks in peripheral blood lymphocytes. Animals supplemented on coenzyme Q reached a significantly higher mean life span (11,7% higher, i.e. 2,5 months) and a significantly higher maximum life span (24% higher, i.e. 6 months) than non-supplemented animals. These results suggest that a long-term supplementation with a small dosage of coenzyme Q(10) might represent a good anti-aging therapy in rats fed on a PUFA-based diet.

Exp Gerontol. 2004 Feb;39(2):189-94

Hair, Nail, and Skin

Treatment of brittle fingernails with biotin.

Frailty and brittleness of the finger nails is frequently seen, particularly in women. In veterinary medicine, it has been documented that defect hooves of horses or claws of swines respond well to oral application of biotin. Accordingly, we studied the effect of biotin on human dystrophic finger nails, a keratin structure as well. 71 patients were treated with a daily oral dose of biotin of 2.5 mg. Out of the 45 cases which finally could be evaluated, 41 (91%) showed definite improvement with firmer and harder finger nails after an average treatment of 5.5 +/- 2.3 months. In 4 of the 45 patients (9%), the improvement was questionable. None of the patients considered the treatment altogether ineffective. We conclude that biotin in most of the cases provides an effective therapy also for human patients with brittle nails.

Z Hautkr. 1989 Jan 15;64(1):41-8

Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

Various dietary supplements are claimed to have cutaneous anti-aging properties; however, there are a limited number of research studies supporting these claims. The objective of this research was to study the effectiveness of collagen hydrolysate (CH) composed of specific collagen peptides on skin biophysical parameters related to cutaneous aging. In this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 69 women aged 35-55 years were randomized to receive 2.5 g or 5.0 g of CH or placebo once daily for 8 weeks, with 23 subjects being allocated to each treatment group. Skin elasticity, skin moisture, transepidermal water loss and skin roughness were objectively measured before the first oral product application (t0) and after 4 (t1) and 8 weeks (t2) of regular intake. Skin elasticity (primary interest) was also assessed at follow-up 4 weeks after the last intake of CH (t3, 4-week regression phase). At the end of the study, skin elasticity in both CH dosage groups showed a statistically significant improvement in comparison to placebo. After 4 weeks of follow-up treatment, a statistically significantly higher skin elasticity level was determined in elderly women. With regard to skin moisture and skin evaporation, a positive influence of CH treatment could be observed in a subgroup analysis, but data failed to reach a level of statistical significance. No side effects were noted throughout the study.

Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(1):47-55

Clinical observations on the response of equine hoof defects to dietary supplementation with biotin.

Horses with weak hoof horn, which becomes misshapen and crumbles around the lower parts of the hoof walls, pose problems for treatment in practice. The effects of dietary supplementation with a high level of the B-group vitamin biotin (which has proved successful in the treatment of the similar condition in pigs) were investigated in more than 40 cases. Varying degrees of improvement in the hardness, integrity and conformation of the hoof horn were observed in all cases. The signs and progress seen in three typical cases are described. It is concluded that dietary supplementation with 10 to 30 mg biotin/day (depending on bodyweight) for not less than six to nine months is a useful treatment to support other remedial measures in such cases.

Vet Rec. 1984 Dec 22-29;115(25-26):642-5

Proteomic analysis of human nail plate.

Shotgun proteomic analysis of the human nail plate identified 144 proteins in samples from Causcasian volunteers. The 30 identified proteins solubilized by detergent and reducing agent, 90% of the total nail plate mass, were primarily keratins and keratin associated proteins. Keratins comprised a majority of the detergent-insoluble fraction as well, but numerous cytoplasmic, membrane, and junctional proteins and histones were also identified, indicating broad use by transglutaminases of available proteins as substrates for cross-linking. Two novel membrane proteins were identified, also found in the hair shaft, for which mRNAs were detected only at very low levels by real-time polymerase chain reaction in other tissues. Parallel analyses of nail samples from volunteers from Inner Mongolia, China gave essentially the same protein profiles. Comparison of the profiles of nail plate and hair shaft from the latter volunteers revealed extensive overlap of protein constituents. Analyses of samples from an arsenic-exposed population revealed few proteins whose levels were altered substantially but raised the possibility of detecting sensitive individuals in this way.

J Proteome Res. 2010 Dec 3;9(12):6752-8

Ageing processes influence keratin and KAP expression in human hair follicles.

In many cultures, a youthful look is strictly linked to strong and healthy hair. Source of the hair fibre is the hair follicle, a highly specialized skin appendage. Biological alterations because of intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli can destabilize this perfectly organized system, thus effecting hair growth or metabolism. Also, ageing could be characterized as a disturbance in this well-balanced machinery. Albeit the predominant symptom of hair ageing, greying, is addressed in a plurality of research activities, further age-related changes, e.g. related to hair structure, remain obscure. Therefore, we characterized hair follicles of two volunteer panels (below 25 years, above 50 years) on the molecular level, especially focussing on alterations influencing gene expression of keratins and keratin-associated proteins. We showed that concordantly to other biological systems the hair follicle undergoes several modifications during the ageing process associated among others with a significant decline in these structural proteins. Providing strategies to fight against these age-related changes is a challenge for hair science.

Exp Dermatol. 2011 Sep;20(9):759-61

Silicon deprivation decreases collagen formation in wounds and bone, and ornithine transaminase enzyme activity in liver.

We have shown that silicon (Si) deprivation decreases the collagen concentration in bone of 9-wk-old rats. Finding that Si deprivation also affects collagen at different stages in bone development, collagen-forming enzymes, or collagen deposition in other tissues would have implications that Si is important for both wound healing and bone formation. Therefore, 42 rats in experiment 1 and 24 rats in experiment 2 were fed a basal diet containing 2 or 2.6 microg Si/g, respectively, based on ground corn and casein, and supplemented with either 0 or 10 microg Si/g as sodium metasilicate. At 3 wk, the femur was removed from 18 of the 42 rats in experiment 1 for hydroxyproline analysis. A polyvinyl sponge was implanted beneath the skin of the upper back of each of the 24 remaining rats. Sixteen hours before termination and 2 wk after the sponge had been implanted, each rat was given an oral dose of 14C-proline (1.8 microCi/100 g body wt). The total amount of hydroxyproline was significantly lower in the tibia and sponges taken from Si-deficient animals than Si-supplemented rats. The disintegrations per minute of 14C-proline were significantly higher in sponge extracts from Si- deficient rats than Si-supplemented rats. Additional evidence of aberrations in proline metabolism with Si deprivation was that liver ornithine aminotransferase was significantly decreased in Si-deprived animals in experiment 2. Findings of an increased accumulation of 14C-proline and decreased total hydroxyproline in implanted sponges and decreased activity of a key enzyme in proline synthesis (liver ornithine aminotransferase) in Si-deprived animals indicates an aberration in the formation of collagen from proline in sites other than bone that is corrected by Si. This suggests that Si is a nutrient of concern in wound healing as well as bone formation.

Biol Trace Elem Res. 2002 Dec;89(3):251-61

A clinical trial to investigate the effect of Cynatine HNS on hair and nail parameters.

OBJECTIVE: A new, novel product, Cynatine HNS, was evaluated for its effects as a supplement for improving various aspects of hair and nails in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. METHODS: A total of 50 females were included and randomized into two groups. The active group (n = 25) received 2 capsules containing Cynatine HNS, comprised of Cynatine brand keratin (500 mg) plus vitamins and minerals, per day, and the placebo group (n = 25) received 2 identical capsules of maltodextrin per day for 90 days. End points for hair loss, hair growth, hair strength, amino acid composition, and hair luster were measured. End points were also measured for nail strength and the appearance of nails. RESULTS: The results show that subjects taking Cynatine HNS showed statistically significant improvements in their hair and nails when compared to placebo. CONCLUSION: Cynatine HNS is an effective supplement for improving hair and nails in 90 days or less.

ScientificWorldJournal. 2014;2014:641723

Arterial Protect

Pentacyclic triterpenoids from the medicinal herb, Centella asiatica (L.) Urban.

Centella asiatica accumulates large quantities of pentacyclic triterpenoid saponins, collectively known as centelloids. These terpenoids include asiaticoside, centelloside, madecassoside, brahmoside, brahminoside, thankuniside, sceffoleoside, centellose, asiatic-, brahmic-, centellic- and madecassic acids. The triterpene saponins are common secondary plant metabolites and are synthesized via the isoprenoid pathway to produce a hydrophobic triterpenoid structure (aglycone) containing a hydrophilic sugar chain (glycone). The biological activity of saponins has been attributed to these characteristics. In planta, the Centella triterpenoids can be regarded as phytoanticipins due to their antimicrobial activities and protective role against attempted pathogen infections. Preparations of C. asiatica are used in traditional and alternative medicine due to the wide spectrum of pharmacological activities associated with these secondary metabolites. Here, the biosynthesis of the centelloid triterpenoids is reviewed; the range of metabolites found in C. asiatica, together with their known biological activities and the chemotype variation in the production of these metabolites due to growth conditions are summarized. These plant-derived pharmacologically active compounds have complex structures, making chemical synthesis an economically uncompetitive option. Production of secondary metabolites by cultured cells provides a particularly important benefit to manipulate and improve the production of desired compounds; thus biotechnological approaches to increase the concentrations of the metabolites are discussed.

Molecules. 2009 Oct 9;14(10):3922-41

Pharmacological Review on Centella asiatica: a potential herbal cure-all.

In recent times, focus on plant research has increased all over the world. Centella asiatica is an important medicinal herb that is widely used in the orient and is becoming popular in the West. Triterpenoid, saponins, the primary constituents of Centella asiatica are manly believed to be responsible for its wide therapeutic actions. Apart from wound healing, the herb is recommended for the treatment of various skin conditions such as leprosy, lupus, varicose ulcers, eczema, psoriasis, diarrhoea, fever, amenorrhea, diseases of the female genitourinary tract and also for relieving anxiety and improving cognition. The present review attempts to provide comprehensive information on pharmacology, mechanisms of action, various preclinical and clinical studies, safety precautions and current research prospects of the herb. At the same time, studies to evaluate the likelihood of interactions with drugs and herbs on simultaneous use, which is imperative for optimal and safe utilization of the herb, are discussed.

Indian J Pharm Sci. 2010 Sep;72(5):546-56

Frequency and distribution of thin-cap fibroatheroma and ruptured plaques in human coronary arteries: a pathologic study.

OBJECTIVES: Our purpose was to quantify the frequency and distribution of suspected vulnerable lesions, defined as thin-capped fibroatheroma (TCFA) and ruptured plaque, in human coronary artery autopsy specimens. BACKGROUND: Most acute coronary events and sudden death are believed to arise from rupture of a TCFA followed by thrombosis. Although there is general agreement that clinical events are usually caused by focal lesions, there is considerable debate over the relative importance of focal versus systemic factors in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. METHODS: We longitudinally sectioned coronary arteries from 50 whole hearts taken from patients (mean age 73 years, 64% men) dying of cardiovascular (n = 33), noncardiovascular (n = 13), and unknown (n = 4) causes. A total of 3,639 longitudinal segments of length 3 mm were sectioned from 148 arteries, accounting for 10.9 m of total tissue length. Specimens were classified on the basis of histology and computer-aided morphometry. RESULTS: Twenty-three TCFA and 19 ruptured plaques were found (mean +/- SD: 0.46 +/- 0.95 and 0.38 +/- 0.70 per heart, respectively), and these lesions accounted for only 1.6% and 1.2%, respectively, of the total length of the coronary tree examined in patients dying of cardiovascular causes. The majority of TCFA and ruptured plaque localized in the proximal third of the major coronary arteries, and in 92% of cases these lesions clustered within 2 or fewer nonoverlapping 20-mm segments. CONCLUSIONS: The suspected precursors of rupture-mediated thrombosis occur in a limited, focal distribution in the coronary arteries.

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2007 Sep 4;50(10):940-9

Modification of the echogenicity of femoral plaques after treatment with total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica: a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled trial.

The aim of this study was to evaluate whether TTFCA (total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica), was effective, by modulating collagen production, in a period of 12 months, increasing the echogenicity of echolucent plaques at the femoral bifurcation. Hypoechoic atherosclerotic plaques have been found to be associated with an increased evidence of cerebrovascular events. In this type of plaques stromal composition is limited as the collagen component is generally very low; the plaque composition is mainly due to lipid accumulation or thrombosis. The aim of this study was the evaluation of echogenicity of hyperechoic plaques and how it could be modified by a drug acting on the modulation of collagen synthesis. Antiplatelet agents were used in all patients; cholesterol-lowering agents were used in 34% of patients in the treatment group and in 36% in the placebo group. TTFCA was used at the dose of 60 mg thrice daily (oral tablets). Of the 60 included subjects 26 completed the study in the treatment group and 24 in the placebo group. At inclusion the average GSM in the treatment group was 14 (SD 3) and 14.3 (SD 3) in controls. At 12 months GSM was increased up to 22.8 (SD 4) in the treatment group and it was 15 (SD 3) in controls. Considering texture no significant changes were observed in controls while a qualitative increase in homogenicity was observed in the TTFCA group. Plaque size measured at the beginning and at the end of the study showed a median increase in size, in controls (23%; range 0%-44%); it was unchanged in the TTFCA group (variation 7%; 4%-26%). In conclusion in the treatment group plaques increased in echogenicity and in homogenicity; size and stenosis remained unchanged. Modulating the scarring process within echolucent plaques (low echogenicity, high echolucency, with a very low collagen/stromal component), possibly by collagen modulation, makes plaques more stable. This has been achieved and documented in the present study by an increase in the gray-scale median (plaques become more echogenic, more ‘white’). The variation in GSM is generally associated with a lower risk of wall thrombosis, rupture and embolization. These observations indicate a positive action of TTFCA on the stabilization of hypoechoic, low-density femoral plaques.

Angiology. 2001 Oct;52 Suppl 2:S69-73

Total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica in chronic venous insufficiency and in high-perfusion microangiopathy.

Total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica (TTFCA) is effective in improving venous wall alterations in chronic venous hypertension and in protecting the venous endothelium. TTFCA is active on connective tissue modulation, improves the synthesis of collagen and other tissue proteins by modulating the action of fibroblasts in the vein wall, and stimulates collagen remodeling in and around the venous wall. This is due to the modulating action of TTFCA on fibroblasts as shown by experiments on the growth of human embryonal fibroblasts. TTFCA has a moderate in-vitro and in-vivo stimulating effect on collagen synthesis and, at higher dosages, an inhibition on the synthesis of collagen and acid mucopolysaccharides. Studies have indicated the role of TTFCA on the synthesis of specific venous wall elements by cell cultures of human embryonal fibroblasts. The tissue-stimulating action is shown by the increased collagen production independent from the stimulation of cell proliferation (this differentiates the action of TTFCA from cell growth factors). TTFCA is active on the microcirculation in venous and diabetic microangiopathy. Signs and symptoms of venous hypertension and edema are improved by treatment. The remodeling on collagen synthesis could be one of the possible mechanisms of actions of TTFCA in the remodeling of echolucent (soft; therefore, with risk of thrombosis and embolization) plaques at the carotid and femoral bifurcation. This compound is safe and well tolerated. In conclusion, several actions of TTFCA in vascular diseases makes the use of this compound very interesting in venous and arterial problems.

Angiology. 2001 Oct;52 Suppl 2:S9-13

Pycnogenol® and Centella Asiatica for preventing asymptomatic atherosclerosis progression into clinical events.

METHODS: The study included subjects aged 45-60 with stenosing atherosclerotic plaques (>50- 60%) in at least one carotid or common femoral bifurcation. Subjects were allocated into 3 groups: Group 1 (controls): management was based on education, exercise, diet and lifestyle changes. This same management plan was used in all other groups; Group 2 used Pycnogenol (100 mg/day); Group 3 used Pycnogenol 100 mg/day plus CA, 100 mg/day. The follow-up lasted 4 years. Plaque progression was assessed using the ultrasonic arterial score based on arterial wall morphology, considering plaque characteristics and the number of subjects that had cardiovascular events. Oxidative stress was also evaluated. RESULTS: Of the 413 individuals that were admitted, 391 individuals completed 4 years. Group distribution was comparable. The ultrasonic score increased significantly less in the two supplement groups (p<0.05) in comparison with controls suggesting a beneficial effect of Pycnogenol with a significant difference in favor of the combination (p<0.05). There was a reduction in plaques progression in the supplement groups with the best effects obtained by the combination, considering maximum plaque thickness and length and the grey scale median (p<0.05). Plaques became generally dense (more echogenic) achieving a mixed echogenicity. There was a reduction of anginal events to less than 3% in the two supplement groups (in comparison with 6.25% in controls)(p<0.05) with the best results obtained by the combination (p<005). The reduction in myocardial infarctions was significantly in favor of the combination (p<0.05). Minor TIAs and strokes and signs of peripheral vascular disease were also less with the supplements with the best results observed with the combination (p<0.05). Events in controls - requiring hospital admission - were globally seen in 16-4% of subjects (minor events) in comparison with 8-9% of subjects using Pycnogenol and only 3.3% of patients using the combination. At 4 years oxidative stress in the supplement groups was lower than in controls (p<0.05, with no significant difference between group 2 and 3). CONCLUSION: Pycnogenol and the combination Pycnogenol+CA reduce the progression of arterial plaques and the progression to clinical stages. The reduction in plaques and clinical progression was associated with a reduction in oxidative stress. The results justify a larger study to define the efficacy of the combination Pycnogenol+CA as a prophylaxis in preclinical atherosclerosis.

Minerva Cardioangiol. 2015 Oct 27

Pycnogenol® and Centella asiatica in the management of asymptomatic atherosclerosis progression.

AIM: The aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of the nutritional supplements Pycnogenol® and total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica (TTFCA) on atherosclerosis progression in low-risk asymptomatic subjects with carotid or femoral stenosing plaques. METHODS: This was an observational pilot, substudy of the San Valentino epidemiological cardiovascular study. The study included 824 subjects aged 45-60 without any conventional risk factors who had a stenosing atherosclerotic plaque (>50-60%) in at least one carotid or common femoral bifurcation, allocated into 6 groups: Group 1 (Controls): management was based on education, exercise, diet and lifestyle changes. This same management plan was used in all other groups; group 2: Pycnogenol® 50 mg/day; group 3: Pycnogenol® 100 mg/day; group 4: Aspirin® 100 mg/day or ticlopidine 250 mg/day if intolerant to aspirin; group 5: Aspirin® 100 mg/day and Pycnogenol® 100 mg/day; group 6: Pycnogenol® 100 mg/day plus TTFCA 100 mg/day. The follow-up lasted 42 months. Plaque progression was assessed using the ultrasonic arterial score based on the arterial wall morphology and the number of plaques that progressed and on the number of subjects that had cardiovascular events. A secondary endpoint was to evaluate the changes in oxidative stress at baseline and at 42 months. RESULTS: The ultrasonic score increased significantly in groups 1, 2, and 4 (>1%) but not in groups 3, 5 and 6 (<1%) suggesting a beneficial effect of Pycnogenol® 100 mg. Considering the percent of patients that progressed from class V (asymptomatic) to VI (symptomatic) there was a progression of plaques in 48.09% of controls. In the Pycnogenol® 100 (group 3, 10.4%) and in the Aspirin®+ Pycnogenol® (group 5, 10.68%) progression was half of what observed with antiplatelet agent (group 4, 20.93%); in the TTFCA+ Pycnogenol®group (group 6) progression was 7.4 times lower than in controls; 3.22 times lower than in the antiplatelet agents group (4). Events (hospital admission, specialized care) were observed in 16.03% of controls; there were 8.83% of subjects with events with Pycnogenol® 50 mg and 8% in group 3 (Pycnogenol® 100 mg). In group 4 (antiplatelets), 8.52% of subjects had events; in group 5, 6.87% of subjects had events and in group 6 (TTFCA+ Pycnogenol®) only 4.41% had events (this was the lowest event rate; P<0.05). All treatment groups had a significantly lower event rate (P<0.05) in comparison with controls. Considering treatments groups 2, 3, 5, 6 had a lower number (P<0.05) of subjects in need of cardiovascular management in comparison with controls. The need for risk factor management was higher in controls and lower in group 6 (P<0.05). In groups 2 to 6 the need for risk factor management was lower than in controls (P<0.05). Including all events (hospital admission, need for treatment or for risk management) 51.9% of controls were involved. In the other groups there was a reduction (from a -9.28% reduction in group 2 to a -26% in group 6) (P<0.002). The most important reduction (higher that in all groups; P<0.05) was in group 6. At 42 months, oxidative stress in all the Pycnogenol ® groups was less than in the control group. In the combined group of Pycnogenol® and TTFCA the oxidative stress was less than with Pycnogenol® alone (P<0.001). CONCLUSION: Pycnogenol® and the combination of Pycnogenol® +TTFCA appear to reduce the progression of subclinical arterial plaques and the progression to clinical stages. The reduction in plaque and clinical progression was associated with a reduction in oxidative stress. The results justify a large, randomized, controlled study to demonstrate the efficacy of the combined Pycnogenol® and TTFCA prophylactic therapy in preclinical atherosclerosis.

Int Angiol. 2015 Apr;34(2):150-7

Macular Degeneration

The role of lutein in eye-related disease.

The lens and retina of the human eye are exposed constantly to light and oxygen. In situ phototransduction and oxidative phosphorylation within photoreceptors produces a high level of phototoxic and oxidative related stress. Within the eye, the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin are present in high concentrations in contrast to other human tissues. We discuss the role of lutein and zeaxanthin in ameliorating light and oxygen damage, and preventing age-related cellular and tissue deterioration in the eye. Epidemiologic research shows an inverse association between levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in eye tissues and age related degenerative diseases such as macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. We examine the role of these carotenoids as blockers of blue-light damage and quenchers of oxygen free radicals. This article provides a review of possible mechanisms of lutein action at a cellular and molecular level. Our review offers insight into current clinical trials and experimental animal studies involving lutein, and possible role of nutritional intervention in common ocular diseases that cause blindness.

Nutrients. 2013 May 22;5(5):1823-39

Biologic mechanisms of the protective role of lutein and zeaxanthin in the eye.

The macular region of the primate retina is yellow in color due to the presence of the macular pigment, composed of two dietary xanthophylls, lutein and zeaxanthin, and another xanthophyll, meso-zeaxanthin. The latter is presumably formed from either lutein or zeaxanthin in the retina. By absorbing blue-light, the macular pigment protects the underlying photoreceptor cell layer from light damage, possibly initiated by the formation of reactive oxygen species during a photosensitized reaction. There is ample epidemiological evidence that the amount of macular pigment is inversely associated with the incidence of age-related macular degeneration, an irreversible process that is the major cause of blindness in the elderly. The macular pigment can be increased in primates by either increasing the intake of foods that are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, such as dark-green leafy vegetables, or by supplementation with lutein or zeaxanthin. Although increasing the intake of lutein or zeaxanthin might prove to be protective against the development of age-related macular degeneration, a causative relationship has yet to be experimentally demonstrated.

Annu Rev Nutr. 2003;23:171-201

Interrelation between oxidative stress and complement activation in models of age-related macular degeneration.

Millions of individuals older than 50-years suffer from age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Associated with this multifactorial disease are polymorphisms of complement factor genes and a main environmental risk factor-oxidative stress. Until now the linkage between these risk factors for AMD has not been fully understood. Recent studies, integrating results on oxidative stress, complement activation, epidemiology and ocular pathology suggested the following sequence in AMD-etiology: initially, chronic oxidative stress results in modification of proteins and lipids in the posterior of the eye; these tissue alterations trigger chronic inflammation, involving the complement system; and finally, invasive immune cells facilitate pathology in the retina. Here, we summarize the results for animal studies which aim to elucidate this molecular interplay of oxidative events and tissue-specific complement activation in the eye.

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016;854:87-93

The value of measurement of macular carotenoid pigment optical densities and distributions in age-related macular degeneration and other retinal disorders.

There is increasing recognition that the optical and antioxidant properties of the xanthophyll carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin play an important role in maintaining the health and function of the human macula. In this review article, we assess the value of non-invasive quantification of macular pigment levels and distributions to identify individuals potentially at risk for visual disability or catastrophic vision loss from age-related macular degeneration, and we consider the strengths and weaknesses of the diverse measurement methods currently available.

Vision Res. 2010 Mar 31;50(7):716-28

Supplementation with three different macular carotenoid formulations in patients with early age-related macular degeneration.

PURPOSE: To investigate the impact of three different macular carotenoid formulations on macular pigment optical density and visual performance in subjects with early age-related macular degeneration. METHODS: Fifty-two subjects were supplemented and followed for 12 months, 17 of them were in intervention Group 1 (20 mg/day lutein and 2 mg/day zeaxanthin); 21 in Group 2 (10 mg/day meso-zeaxanthin, 10 mg/day lutein, and 2 mg/day zeaxanthin); and 14 in Group 3 (17 mg/day meso-zeaxanthin, 3 mg/day lutein, and 2 mg/day zeaxanthin). The macular pigment optical density was measured using customized heterochromatic flicker photometry, and visual function was assessed using corrected distance visual acuity and by letter contrast sensitivity. RESULTS: A statistically significant increase in the macular pigment optical density was observed at all measured eccentricities in Group 2 (P ≤ 0.005) and in Group 3 (P < 0.05, for all), but only at 1.75° in Group 1 (P = 0.018). Statistically significant (P < 0.05) improvements in letter contrast sensitivity were seen at all spatial frequencies (except 1.2 cycles per degree) in Group 3, and at low spatial frequencies in Groups 1 and 2. CONCLUSION: Augmentation of the macular pigment optical density across its spatial profile and enhancements in contrast sensitivity were best achieved after supplementation with a formulation containing high doses of meso-zeaxanthin in combination with lutein and zeaxanthin.

Retina. 214 Sep;34(9):1757-66

Sustained supplementation and monitored response with differing carotenoid formulations in early age-related macular degeneration.

PURPOSE: To compare the impact of sustained supplementation using different macular carotenoid formulations on macular pigment (MP) and visual function in early age-related macular degeneration (AMD). PATIENTS AND METHODS: Sixty-seven subjects with early AMD were randomly assigned to: Group 1 (20 mg per day lutein (L), 0.86 mg per day zeaxanthin (Z); Ultra Lutein), Group 2 (10 mg per day meso-zeaxanthin (MZ), 10 mg per day L, 2 mg per day Z; Macushield; Macuhealth), Group 3 (17 mg per day MZ, 3 mg per day L, 2 mg per day Z). MP was measured using customised heterochromatic flicker photometry and visual function was assessed by measuring contrast sensitivity (CS) and best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA). AMD was graded using the Wisconsin Age-Related Maculopathy Grading System (AREDS 11-step severity scale). RESULTS: At 3 years, a significant increase in MP from baseline was observed in all groups at each eccentricity (P<0.05), except at 1.75° in Group 1 (P=0.160). Between 24 and 36 months, significant increases in MP at each eccentricity were seen in Group 3 (P<0.05 for all), and at 0.50° in Group 2 (P<0.05), whereas no significant increases were seen in Group 1 (P>0.05 for all). At 36 months, compared with baseline, the following significant improvements (P<0.05) in CS were observed: Group 2-1.2, 6, and 9.6 cycles per degree (c.p.d.); Group 1-15.15 c.p.d.; and Group 3-6, 9.6, and 15.15 c.p.d. No significant changes in BCVA, or progression to advanced AMD, were observed. CONCLUSION: In early AMD, MP can be augmented with a variety of supplements, although the inclusion of MZ may confer benefits in terms of panprofile augmentation and in terms of CS enhancement.

Eye (Lond). 2015 Jul;29(7):902-12

Lutein and zeaxanthin and the risk of cataract: the Melbourne visual impairment project.

PURPOSE: To evaluate the association of cortical, nuclear, or posterior subcapsular (PSC) cataract with dietary intake of lutein-zeaxanthin (LZ) in a population-based sample. METHODS: For the study, 3271 (83% of the eligible residents) permanent residents aged > or =40 years were recruited in 1992 to 1994 via a cluster random sampling. In 1997 to 1999, 2594 (79%) attended the follow-up examination including lens photography, a life-style questionnaire, and a food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Cases were those with cortical opacity > or =4/16, nuclear opacity grade > or =2.0, or PSC opacity > or =1 mm2. Logistic regression was used to calculate the odds ratios for cataract by daily LZ intake, or its quintile indicator with the lowest quintile as the baseline category, controlling for energy-adjusted fat intake and variables previously found to be associated with the cataract outcomes. RESULTS: Of the 2322 participants who attended the follow-up survey and completed the FFQ, 1841 (79%), 1955 (84%), and 1950 (84%) were included in the analyses of cortical, nuclear, and PSC cataract, respectively. There were 182 (9.9%), 387 (19.8%), and 177 (9.1%) cases for cortical, nuclear, and PSC cataract, respectively. Cortical and PSC cataract were not significantly associated with LZ intake. For nuclear cataract the odds ratios were 0.67 (0.46-0.96) and 0.60 (0.40-0.90) for every 1-mg increase in crude and energy-adjusted daily LZ intake, respectively. The odds ratios (95% CI) for those in the top quintile of crude LZ intake was 0.58 (0.37-0.92; P = 0.023 for trend), and it was 0.64 (0.40-1.03) for energy adjusted LZ intake (P = 0.018 for trend). CONCLUSIONS: This study found an inverse association between high dietary LZ intake and prevalence of nuclear cataract.

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2006 Sep;47(9):3783-6

Toxins

Role of vitamin C in oxidative DNA damage.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) has considerable antioxidant activity: it scavenges reactive oxygen species and may, thereby, prevent oxidative damage to important biological macromolecules, such as DNA, proteins, and lipids. Data concerning the influence of vitamin C on oxidative DNA damage are conflicting and some of the discrepancies can be explained by the different experimental methodologies employed. Data using biomarkers of oxidative damage of DNA bases in human lymphocytes in vitro have provided no compelling evidence to conclude that vitamin C supplementation can decrease the level of oxidative DNA damage. There are also no conclusive data from studies of strand breaks for a protective effect of ascorbic acid. The consumption of food rich in vitamin C (fruits and vegetables) appears more protective because it exerts more positive effects in decreasing oxidative DNA damage to human cells. Recent studies indicate that vitamin C is much more than just an antioxidant; it regulates the expression of some genes participating in apoptosis or DNA repair processes. The purpose of this review is to provide a summary of the role of vitamin C in oxidative DNA damage.

Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2004;58:343-8

Vitamin C prevents DNA mutation induced by oxidative stress.

The precise role of vitamin C in the prevention of DNA mutations is controversial. Although ascorbic acid has strong antioxidant properties, it also has pro-oxidant effects in the presence of free transition metals. Vitamin C was recently reported to induce the decomposition of lipid hydroperoxides independent of metal interactions, suggesting that it may cause DNA damage. To directly address the role of vitamin C in maintaining genomic integrity we developed a genetic system for quantifying guanine base mutations induced in human cells under oxidative stress. The assay utilized a plasmid construct encoding the cDNA for chloramphenicol acetyl transferase modified to contain an amber stop codon, which was restored to wild type by G to T transversion induced by oxidative stress. The mutation frequency was determined from the number of plasmids containing the wild type chloramphenicol acetyl transferase gene rescued from oxidatively stressed cells. Cells were loaded with vitamin C by exposing them to dehydroascorbic acid, thereby avoiding transition metal-related pro-oxidant effects of ascorbic acid. We found that vitamin C loading resulted in substantially decreased mutations induced by H(2)O(2). Depletion of glutathione led to cytotoxicity and an increase in H(2)O(2)-induced mutation frequency; however, mutation frequency was prominently decreased in depleted cells preloaded with vitamin C. The mutation results correlated with a decrease in total 8-oxo-guanine measured in genomic DNA of cells loaded with vitamin C and oxidatively stressed. These findings directly support the concept that high intracellular concentrations of vitamin C can prevent oxidation-induced mutations in human cells.

J Biol Chem. 2002 May 10;277(19):16895-9

Protective effects of probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus IMC501 in mice treated with PhIP.

The aim of the present study was to investigate the antigenotoxic properties of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus IMC501; DNA damage was induced by one representative food mutagen, 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP). Mice were treated orally with suspensions of lactobacilli for 10 days before administration of food mutagen. During the treatment, the abundance of lactobacilli in feces, as assessed by qPCR analysis, increased, whereas b-glucuronidase and N-acetyl-b-glucosaminidase activities decreased. The extent of DNA damage was measured in colon and liver cells by comet assay. In colonocytes, diet supplementation with IMC501 resulted in a significant inhibition of DNA damage induced by PhIP. The results obtained in this in vitro study suggest that Lactobacillus rhamnosus IMC501 used as a dietary supplement can provide a useful integration of antimutagen food components of the normal diet, which are generally lower than the protective level.

J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2014 Mar 28;24(3):371-8

Circulating Prostaglandin Biosynthesis in Colorectal Cancer and Potential Clinical Significance.

BACKGROUND: Colorectal cancer (CRC) represents the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Lack of reliable biomarkers remains a critical issue for early detection of CRC. In this study, we investigated the potential predictive values of circulating prostaglandin (PG) biosynthesis in CRC risk. METHODS: Profiles of circulating PG biosynthesis and platelet counts were determined in healthy subjects (n = 16), familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) patients who were classified as regular aspirin users (n = 14) or nonusers (n = 24), and CRC patients with (n = 18) or without FAP history (n = 20). Immunohistochemistry staining was performed on biopsy samples. RESULTS: Analysis of circulating PG biosynthesis unexpectedly revealed that CRC progression is accompanied by a pronounced elevation of circulating thromboxane A2 (TXA2) levels. When a circulating TXA2 level of 1000 pg/mL was selected as a practical cutoff point, 95% of CRC patients were successfully identified. Further study suggested that the TXA2 pathway is constitutively activated during colorectal tumorigenesis and required for anchorage-independent growth of colon cancer cells. CONCLUSIONS: This study established the importance of the TXA2 pathway in CRC pathophysiology, and laid the groundwork for introducing a TXA2-targeting strategy to CRC prevention, early detection and management.

EBioMedicine. 2015 Feb 1;2(2):165-171

Sun and ski holidays improve vitamin D status, but are associated with high levels of DNA damage.

Skin cancer is caused by solar UVR, which is also essential for vitamin D production. DNA damage (thymine dimers: T-T dimers) and vitamin D (25(OH)D) synthesis are both initiated by solar UVB. We aimed to investigate the simultaneous adverse and beneficial effects of solar UVB exposure in holidaymakers. Sun-seekers and skiers (n=71) were observed over 6 days through on-site monitoring, personal diary entries, and recording of personal UVB exposure doses with electronic dosimeters. Urine and blood samples were analyzed for T-T dimers and 25(OH)D, respectively. The volunteers had a statistically significant increase in vitamin D. There were strong associations between UVB exposure and post-holiday levels of T-T dimers and vitamin D, as well as between post-holiday T-T dimers and vitamin D. We conclude that UVB-induced vitamin D synthesis is associated with considerable DNA damage in the skin. These data, on two major health predictors, provide a basis for further field studies that may result in better understanding of the risks and benefits of “real life” solar exposure. However, vitamin D status can be improved more safely through the use of vitamin D dietary supplements.

J Invest Dermatol. 2014 Nov;134(11):2806-13

Does vitamin D protect against DNA damage?

Vitamin D is a secosteroid best known for its role in maintaining bone and muscle health. Adequate levels of vitamin D may also be beneficial in maintaining DNA integrity. This role of vitamin D can be divided into a primary function that prevents damage from DNA and a secondary function that regulates the growth rate of cells. The potential for vitamin D to reduce oxidative damage to DNA in a human has been suggested by clinical trial where vitamin D supplementation reduced 8-hydroxy-2’-deoxyguanosine, a marker of oxidative damage, in colorectal epithelial crypt cells. Studies in animal models and in different cell types have also shown marked reduction in oxidative stress damage and chromosomal aberrations, prevention of telomere shortening and inhibition of telomerase activity following treatment with vitamin D. The secondary function of vitamin D in preventing DNA damage includes regulation of the poly-ADP-ribose polymerase activity in the DNA damage response pathway involved in the detection of DNA lesions. It is also able to regulate the cell cycle to prevent the propagation of damaged DNA, and to regulate apoptosis to promote cell death. Vitamin D may contribute to prevention of human colorectal cancer, though there is little evidence to suggest that prevention of DNA damage mediates this effect, if real. Very limited human data mean that the intake of vitamin D required to minimise DNA damage remains uncertain.

Mutat Res. 2012 May 1;733(1-2):50-7Format

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