Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Jan 2017

Florassist GI, Deep Vein Thrombosis, Quercetin, Selenium, And Metformin

Florassist GI, Deep Vein Thrombosis, Quercetin, Selenium, And Metformin

Florassist GI

Antibiotics and the Human Gut Microbiome: Dysbioses and Accumulation of Resistances.

The human microbiome is overly exposed to antibiotics, due, not only to their medical use, but also to their utilization in farm animals and crops. Microbiome composition can be rapidly altered by exposure to antibiotics, with potential immediate effects on health, for instance through the selection of resistant opportunistic pathogens that can cause acute disease. Microbiome alterations induced by antibiotics can also indirectly affect health in the long-term. The mutualistic microbes in the human body interact with many physiological processes, and participate in the regulation of immune and metabolic homeostasis. Therefore, antibiotic exposure can alter many basic physiological equilibria, promoting long-term disease. In addition, excessive antibiotic use fosters bacterial resistance, and the overly exposed human microbiome has become a significant reservoir of resistance genes, contributing to the increasing difficulty in controlling bacterial infections. Here, the complex relationships between antibiotics and the human microbiome are reviewed, with focus on the intestinal microbiota, addressing (1) the effects of antibiotic use on the composition and function of the gut microbiota, (2) the impact of antibiotic-induced microbiota alterations on immunity, metabolism, and health, and (3) the role of the gut microbiota as a reservoir of antibiotic resistances.

Front Microbiol. 2016 Jan 12;6:1543

Dysbiosis of the gut microbiota in disease.

There is growing evidence that dysbiosis of the gut microbiota is associated with the pathogenesis of both intestinal and extra-intestinal disorders. Intestinal disorders include inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and coeliac disease, while extra-intestinal disorders include allergy, asthma, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.

Microb Ecol Health Dis. 2015 Feb 2;26:26191.

Role of stress, depression, and aging in cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder and the most common cause of progressive cognitive dysfunction and dementia. Despite considerable progress in elucidating the molecular pathology of this disease, we are not yet close to unraveling its etiopathogenesis. A battery of neurotoxic modifiers may underpin neurocognitive pathology via deleterious heterogeneous pathologic impact in brain regions, including the hippocampus. Three important neurotoxic factors being addressed here include aging, stress, and depression. Unraveling “upstream pathologies” due to these disparate neurotoxic entities, vis-à-vis cognitive impairment involving hippocampal dysfunction, is of paramount importance. Persistent systemic inflammation triggers and sustains neuroinflammation. The latter targets several brain regions including the hippocampus causing upregulation of amyloid beta and neurofibrillary tangles, synaptic and neuronal degeneration, gray matter volume atrophy, and progressive cognitive decline. However, what is the fundamental source of this peripheral inflammation in aging, stress, and depression? This chapter highlights and delineates the inflammatory involvement-i.e., from its inception from gut to systemic inflammation to neuroinflammation. It highlights an upregulated cascade in which gut-microbiota-related dysbiosis generates lipopolysaccharides (LPS), which enhances inflammation and gut’s leakiness, and through a Web of interactions, it induces stress and depression. This may increase neuronal dysfunction and apoptosis, promote learning and memory impairment, and enhance vulnerability to cognitive decline.

Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2014;18:265-96

Exploring gut microbes in human health and disease: Pushing the envelope.

Humans have coevolved with their microbes over thousands of years, but this relationship, is now being dramatically affected by shifts in the collective human microbiome resulting from changes in the environment and societal norms. Resulting perturbations of intestinal host-microbe interactions can lead to miscues and altered host responses that increase the risk of pathogenic processes and promote “western” disorders such as inflammatory bowel diseases, cancers, obesity, diabetes, autism, and asthma. Given the current challenges and limitations in gene therapy, approaches that can reshape the gut microbiome represent a reasonable strategy for restoring the balance between host and microbes. In this review and commentary, we highlight recent progress in our understanding of the intestinal microbiome in the context of health and diseases, focusing on mechanistic concepts that underlie the complex relationships between host and microbes. Despite these gains, many challenges lie ahead that make it difficult to close the gap between the basic sciences and clinical application. We will discuss the potential therapeutic strategies that can be used to manipulate the gut microbiota, recognizing that the promise of pharmabiotics (“bugs to drugs”) is unlikely to be completely fulfilled without a greater understanding of enteric microbiota and its impact on mammalian physiology. By leveraging the knowledge gained through these studies, we will be prepared to enter the era of personalized medicine where clinical inventions can be custom-tailored to individual patients to achieve better outcomes.

Genes Dis. 2014 Dec;1(2):132-139

The interaction between gut microbiota and age-related changes in immune function and inflammation.

Intestinal microbiota and gut immune systems interact each other, maintaining a condition of homeostasis in the context of the intestinal habitat. However, both systems undergo modifications in elderly, thus accounting for a low grade inflammatory status which, in turn, may evolve toward more severe pathological conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and colon rectal cancer. In addition, in western societies dietary habits may negatively influence the microbiota composition, also altering gut immune response which is per se impaired in elderly. In order to prevent the outcome of aged-related disease, supplementation of nutraceuticals able to correct abnormalities of both immune system and microbiota has become more frequent than in the past. In this respect, a better identification of components of the aged microbiota as well as a deeper analysis of gut mucosal immunity function should be pursued.

Immun Ageing. 2013 Aug 5;10(1):31

Intestinal bacteria and ageing.

Advancements in science and medicine, as well as improved living standards, have led to a steady increase in life expectancy, and subsequently a rise in the elderly population. The intestinal microbiota is important for maintenance of host health, providing energy, nutrients and protection against invading organisms. Although the colonic microbiota is relatively stable throughout adult life, age-related changes in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, as well as changes in diet and host immune system reactivity, inevitably affect population composition. Recent studies indicate shifts in the composition of the intestinal microbiota, which may lead to detrimental effects for the elderly host. Increased numbers of facultative anaerobes, in conjunction with a decrease in beneficial organisms such as the anaerobic lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, amongst other anaerobes, have been reported. These changes, along with a general reduction in species diversity in most bacterial groups, and changes to diet and digestive physiology such as intestinal transit time, may result in increased putrefaction in the colon and a greater susceptibility to disease. Therapeutic strategies to counteract these changes have been suggested in ageing people. These include dietary supplements containing prebiotics, probiotics and a combination of both of these, synbiotics. Limited feeding trials show promising results with these supplements, although further longer-term investigations are required to substantiate their use in elderly healthcare fields.

J Appl Microbiol. 2007 May;102(5):1178-86

Age and disease related changes in intestinal bacterial populations assessed by cell culture, 16S rRNA abundance, and community cellular fatty acid profiles.

BACKGROUND: The normal intestinal microflora plays an important role in host metabolism and provides a natural defence mechanism against invading pathogens. Although the microbiota in adults has been extensively studied, little is known of the changes that occur in the microflora with aging. These may have important consequences in elderly people, many of whom are receiving antibiotic therapy and who are most susceptible to intestinal dysbiosis. AIMS: To characterise the major groups of faecal bacteria in subjects of different ages using a combination of cultural, molecular, and chemotaxonomic approaches. METHODS: Comparative microbiological studies were made on four different subject groups: children (16 months to seven years, n=10), adults (21-34 years, n=7), healthy elderly subjects (67-88 years, n=5), and geriatric patients (68-73 years, n=4) diagnosed with Clostridium difficile diarrhoea. Selected faecal bacteria were investigated using viable counting procedures, 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) abundance measurements, and the occurrence of specific signature fatty acids in whole community fatty acid methyl ester profiles. RESULTS: The principal microbiological difference between adults and children was the occurrence of higher numbers of enterobacteria in the latter group, as determined by viable counts (p<0.05) and 16S rRNA (p<0.01) measurements. Moreover, a greater proportion of children’s faecal rRNA was hybridised by the three probes (bifidobacteria, enterobacteria, bacteroides-porphyromonas-prevotella) used in the study, indicating a less developed gut microbiota. Species diversity was also markedly lower in the Clostridium difficile associated diarrhoea group, which was characterised by high numbers of facultative anaerobes and low levels of bifidobacteria and bacteroides. Although it was a considerably less sensitive diagnostic tool, cellular fatty acid analysis correlated with viable bacterial counts and 16S rRNA measurements in a number of bacteria, including bacteroides. CONCLUSIONS: Polyphasic analysis of faecal bacteria showed that significant structural changes occur in the microbiota with aging, and this was especially evident with respect to putatively protective bifidobacteria. Reductions in these organisms in the large bowel may be related to increased disease risk in elderly people.

Gut. 2001 Feb;48(2):198-205

The gut microbiome and the brain.

The human gut microbiome impacts human brain health in numerous ways: (1) Structural bacterial components such as lipopolysaccharides provide low-grade tonic stimulation of the innate immune system. Excessive stimulation due to bacterial dysbiosis, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or increased intestinal permeability may produce systemic and/or central nervous system inflammation. (2) Bacterial proteins may cross-react with human antigens to stimulate dysfunctional responses of the adaptive immune system. (3) Bacterial enzymes may produce neurotoxic metabolites such as D-lactic acid and ammonia. Even beneficial metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids may exert neurotoxicity. (4) Gut microbes can produce hormones and neurotransmitters that are identical to those produced by humans. Bacterial receptors for these hormones influence microbial growth and virulence. (5) Gut bacteria directly stimulate afferent neurons of the enteric nervous system to send signals to the brain via the vagus nerve. Through these varied mechanisms, gut microbes shape the architecture of sleep and stress reactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. They influence memory, mood, and cognition and are clinically and therapeutically relevant to a range of disorders, including alcoholism, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and restless legs syndrome. Their role in multiple sclerosis and the neurologic manifestations of celiac disease is being studied. Nutritional tools for altering the gut microbiome therapeutically include changes in diet, probiotics, and prebiotics.

J Med Food. 2014 Dec;17(12):1261-72

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Nattokinase decreases plasma levels of fibrinogen, factor VII, and factor VIII in human subjects.

Nattokinase, a serine proteinase from Bacillus subtilis, is considered to be one of the most active functional ingredients found in natto. In this study, we hypothesized that nattokinase could reduce certain factors of blood clotting and lipids that are associated with an increase risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Thus, an open-label, self-controlled clinical trial was conducted on subjects of the following groups: healthy volunteers (Healthy Group), patients with cardiovascular risk factors (Cardiovascular Group), and patients undergoing dialysis (Dialysis Group). All subjects ingested 2 capsules of nattokinase (2000 fibrinolysis units per capsule) daily orally for 2 months. The laboratory measurements were performed on the screening visit and, subsequently, regularly after the initiation of the study. The intent-to-treat analysis was performed on all 45 enrolled subjects. By use of mixed model analysis, a significant time effect, but not group effect, was observed in the change from baseline of fibrinogen (P = .003), factor VII (P < .001), and factor VIII (P < .001), suggesting that the plasma levels of the 3 coagulation factors continuously declined during intake; also, the extents of decrease were similar between groups. After 2 months of administration, fibrinogen, factor VII, and factor VIII decreased 9%, 14%, and 17%, respectively, for the Healthy Group; 7%, 13%, and 19%, respectively, for the Cardiovascular Group; and 10%, 7%, and 19%, respectively, for the Dialysis Group, whereas blood lipids were unaffected by nattokinase. No significant changes of uric acid or notable adverse events were observed in any of the subjects. In summary, this study showed that oral administration of nattokinase could be considered as a CVD nutraceutical by decreasing plasma levels of fibrinogen, factor VII, and factor VIII.

Nutr Res. 2009 Mar;29(3):190-6

Prevention of venous thrombosis and thrombophlebitis in long-haul flights with pycnogenol.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the occurrence of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and superficial vein thrombosis (SVT) and its prophylaxis with an oral anti-edema and antithrombotic agent (Pycnogenol, Horphag, Research Management SA, Geneva, Switzerland) in long-haul flights, in subjects at moderate to high-risk of DVT and SVT. The study pre-included 244 pre-selected subjects; 211 were included (33 were excluded for several reasons due to logistic problems) and 198 completed the study; 13 subjects were lost for follow-up at the end of the flight, all for non-medical problems (i.e., for difficult connections). All subjects were scanned within 90 minutes before the flight and within 2 hours after disembarking. Subjects were supplemented with 100 mg Pycnogenol per capsule. Treatment subjects received two capsules between 2 and 3 hours before flights with 250 mL of water; two capsules were taken 6 hours later with 250 mL of water and one capsule the next day. The control group received comparable placebo at the same intervals. The flight duration was on average 8 hours and 15 minutes (SD 55 min) (range, 7.45-12.33). In the control group there were five thrombotic events (one DVT and four superficial thromboses) while only nonthrombotic, localized phlebitis was observed in the Pycnogenol group (5.15% vs. no events; p<0.025). The ITT (intention to treat) analysis detects 13 failures in the control group (eight lost to follow up + five thrombotic events) of 105 subjects (12.4%) vs. five failures (4.7%; all lost, no thrombotic events) in the treatment group (p<0.025). No unwanted effects were observed. In conclusion, this study indicates that Pycnogenol treatment was effective in decreasing the number of thrombotic events (DVT and SVT) in moderate-to-high risk subjects, during long-haul flights.

Clin Appl Thromb Hemost. 2004 Oct;10(4):373-7

Prevention of venous thrombosis in long-haul flights with Flite Tabs: the LONFLIT-FLITE randomized, controlled trial.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the development of edema, and superficial and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) prophylaxis with an oral profibrinolytic agent (Flite Tabs, 150 mg pinokinase, Aidan, Tempe, AZ, USA) in long-haul flights (7-8 hours), in high-risk subjects. A group of 300 subjects was included; 76 were excluded for several problems including concomitant treatments; 204 were randomized into 2 groups (active treatment or placebo) to evaluate the effects of prophylaxis with Flite Tabs. An exercise program was used in both groups. The femoral, popliteal, tibial, and superficial veins were scanned with ultrasound before and within 90 minutes after flights. Of the included subjects, 92 of 103 controls and 94 of 101 treated subjects completed the study. Dropouts were due to connection problems. Age, gender, and risk distribution were comparable in the groups. In the treatment group, no DVT was observed. In the control group, 5 subjects (5.4%) had a DVT and there were 2 superficial thromboses (7 events in 92 subjects; 7.6%). At inclusion, edema was comparable in the 2 groups. After flights there was an increase in score in controls (+12%) in comparison with a decrease (-15%) in the Flite Tabs group (the difference in variation was statistically significant). Intention-to-treat analysis for thrombotic events shows 18 failures in controls (11 lost to follow-up + 7 thrombotic events) of 92 subjects (19.6%) in comparison with 7 failures (of 94 subjects, equivalent to 7.4%) in the treatment group (p < 0.05). Events were asymptomatic. In conclusion, Flite Tabs were effective in reducing thrombotic events and in controlling edema in high-risk subjects in long flights.

Angiology. 2003 Sep-Oct;54(5):531-9

Prevention of edema in long flights with Pycnogenol.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevention of edema during long-haul flights with an oral, anti-edema and antithrombotic agent (Pycnogenol, Horphag, Research Management SA, Geneva, Switzerland) in asymptomatic subjects. The assessment of edema was performed by evaluating an analogue scale, the rate of ankle swelling by strain-gauge derived rate of ankle swelling (RAS), and by assessing the ankle circumference variation. The study included 211 subjects; 169 completed the study (88 in the control group and 81 in the Pycnogenol group). There were no important differences between the two groups (comparable for age, gender, weight, body mass index, and pattern distribution). The edema score, the RAS, and the circumference at inclusion were also comparable. After the flight in those treated with Pycnogenol, the edema score was increased only by 17.9% (vs. an increase of 58.3% in the control group) (p<0.05). The RAS, evaluated in 22 subjects in the Pycnogenol group (age 44.5; SD 8) and in 23 in the control group (age 45; SD 9) was increased on average by 91% in the control group and 36% in the Pycnogenol group (p<0.05). The variation on circumference at the ankle was 6% in the Pycnogenol group (11% in the control group; p<0.05). These results indicate a positive effect of Pycnogenol on edema during long flights when considering subjective and objective data. No unwanted effects were observed.

Clin Appl Thromb Hemost. 2005 Jul;11(3):289-94

Prevention of post thrombotic syndrome with Pycnogenol® in a twelve month study.

Errichi BM 1, Belcaro G,Hosoi M,Cesarone MR,Dugall M,Feragalli B,Bavera P,Hosoi M, Zulli C,

AIM: Post-thrombotic syndrome is a common complication following deep vein thrombosis. The aim of this twelve month registry study was to compare the efficacy of compression stockings and per oral administration of Pycnogenol® standardized pine bark extract on the severity and incidence of post thrombotic syndrome signs and symptoms. METHODS: One hundred fifty-six patients with a single, major episode of proximal deep vein thrombosis (DVT) were assigned to one of three groups receiving treatment with either compression stockings (group 1), Pycnogenol® (group 2) or the combination of both (group 3) over an investigational period of one year. The study evaluated treatment on edema using a scoring system, the ankle circumference, and the limb volume as ratio to the healthy contralateral limb. RESULTS: Two new incidents of DVT occurred in the group of 55 patients wearing compression stockings between the third and sixth months, whereas no DVT cases occurred in the two other groups which took Pycnogenol®. The edema symptom score was gradually decreased in all three groups during the one year treatment period. Pycnogenol® was significantly more effective from six months onwards than compression stockings for relieving edema symptoms (P<0.05). Symptoms were more effectively reduced with the combination of Pycnogenol® and compression stockings than with the individual regimen alone (P<0.05). Limb volume and ankle circumference were likewise more effectively reduced with Pycnogenol® plus stockings than with compression stockings alone after six months. Ambulatory venous pressure progressively decreased in all three groups after twelve months treatment as compared to baseline. Compression stockings and Pycnogenol® were of comparable efficacy, there were no significant differences of ambulatory venous pressure between groups following twelve months treatment. Laser Doppler flowmetry at the dorsum of feet showed improved micro-circulation which was further demonstrated by increased pO2 and decreased pCO2. Importantly, none of the patients developed ulcerations during the observational period. CONCLUSION: This study suggests that Pycnogenol® may have significant long-term protective efficacy for individuals following a thrombotic event. Moreover, Pycnogenol® appears to be at least as effective for post-thrombosis management as compression stockings, while the combination of both is superior. An important aspect is the patient compliance which was found to be much better in the Pycnogenol® group with two drop-outs due to non-medical reasons, whereas in the compression stockings group eighteen patients were lost to follow-up because wearing stockings at higher temperatures is bothersome.

Panminerva Med. 2011 Sep;53(3 Suppl 1):21-7.

Does pycnogenol intensify the efficacy of acetylsalicylic acid in the inhibition of platelet function? In vitro experience.

INTRODUCTION: Some compounds of herbal origin, such as Pycnogenol (PYC), have been considered as an aid in antiplatelet therapy. Pycnogenol, a French maritime pine bark extract, is a complex mixture of polyphenols that has the ability to reduce human smoking-induced platelet aggregation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the in vitro ability of PYC to improve the efficacy of acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) in the inhibition of platelet function. MATERIAL/METHODS: Whole blood, anticoagulated with hirudin, was drawn from 38 volunteers (40.4+/-13.8 years old) and incubated with PYC (10, 50, 100 microg/ml) or/and ASA (25, 100 micromol/l) for 20 min at RT.PYC was dissolved in water (water-PYC group, n=20) or ethanol (ethanol-PYC group, n=18). To investigate platelet functions, PFA-100 closure-time determination, whole-blood electrical aggregation (WBEA), and PRP aggregation were employed. Collagen (1 microg/ml) and ADP (5 micromol/l) were used as platelet agonists.

RESULTS: A compounding effect of ASA and PYC to inhibit platelet function recorded in collagen-induced aggregation in PRP was observed, but only when ethanol-dissolved PYC was used. The inhibitory effect of PYC (alone) was most profound in platelets activated with ADP. At all concentrations, PYC significantly inhibited platelet aggregation only in the ethanol-PYC group. CONCLUSIONS: It was found that under in vitro conditions, ethanol-dissolved PYC deepened the efficacy of ASA to inhibit platelet function. This study confirmed the direct and compounding (with ASA) inhibitory effect of PYC on platelets. These observations encourage the concept that the combined use of ASA and PYC may be beneficial in patients with impaired response to ASA therapy.

Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2006;60: 316-21

Antioxidant activity and inhibition of matrix metalloproteinases by metabolites of maritime pine bark extract (pycnogenol).

The procyanidin-rich maritime pine bark extract Pycnogenol has well-documented antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. After oral administration of Pycnogenol two major metabolites are formed in vivo, delta-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-gamma-valerolactone (M1) and delta-(3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenyl)-gamma-valerolactone (M2). We elucidated the effects of these metabolites on matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and determined their antioxidant activity to understand their contribution to the effects of maritime pine bark extract. We discovered strong inhibitory effects of M1 and M2 toward the activity of MMP-1, MMP-2, and MMP-9. On a microgram-per-milliliter basis both metabolites appeared more active than Pycnogenol. The metabolites were more effective than their metabolic precursor (+)-catechin in MMP inhibition. On a cellular level, we detected highly potent prevention of MMP-9 release by both metabolites, with concentrations of 0.5 microM resulting in about 50% inhibition of MMP-9 secretion. M1 was significantly more effective in superoxide scavenging than (+)-catechin, ascorbic acid, and trolox, while M2 displayed no scavenging activity. Both metabolites exhibited antioxidant activities in a redox-linked colorimetric assay, with M1 being significantly more potent than all other compounds tested. Thus, our data contribute to the comprehension of Pycnogenol effects and provide a rational basis for its use in prophylaxis and therapy of disorders related to imbalanced or excessive MMP activity.

Free Radic Biol Med. 2004 Mar 15;36(6):811-22

Treatment of venous thromboembolism - effects of different therapeutic strategies on bleeding and recurrence rates and considerations for future anticoagulant management.

Effective treatment of venous thromboembolism (VTE) strikes a balance between prevention of recurrence and bleeding complications. The current standard of care is heparin followed by a vitamin K antagonist such as warfarin. However, this option is not without its limitations, as the anticoagulant effect of warfarin is associated with high inter- and intra-patient variability and patients must be regularly monitored to ensure that anticoagulation is within the narrow target therapeutic range. Several novel oral anticoagulant agents are in the advanced stages of development for VTE treatment, some of which are given after an initial period of heparin treatment, in line with current practice, while others switch from high to low doses after the initial phase of treatment. In this review we assess the critical considerations for treating VTE in light of emerging clinical data for new oral agents and discuss the merits of novel treatment regimens for patients who have experienced an episode of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.

Thromb J. 2012 Dec 31;10(1):24


Occupational exposure to pesticides increases the risk of incident AD: the Cache County study.

BACKGROUND: Commonly used organophosphate and organochlorine pesticides inhibit acetylcholinesterase at synapses in the somatic, autonomic, and central nervous systems and may therefore have lasting effects on the nervous system. Few studies have examined the relationship of pesticide exposure and risk of dementia or Alzheimer disease (AD). We sought to examine the association of occupational pesticide exposure and the risk of incident dementia and AD in later life. METHODS: Residents of the agricultural community of Cache County, UT, who were aged 65 years and older as of January 1995, were invited to participate in the study. At baseline, participants completed detailed occupational history questionnaires that included information about exposures to various types of pesticides. Cognitive status was assessed at baseline and after 3, 7, and 10 years. Standardized methods were used for detection and diagnosis of dementia and AD. Cox proportional hazards survival analyses were used to evaluate the risk of incident dementia and AD associated with pesticide exposure. RESULTS: Among 3,084 enrollees without dementia, more men than women reported pesticide exposure (p < 0.0001). Exposed individuals (n = 572) had more years of education (p < 0.01) but did not differ from others in age. Some 500 individuals developed incident dementia, 344 with AD. After adjustment for baseline age, sex, education, APOE epsilon4 status, and baseline Modified Mini-Mental State Examination scores, Cox proportional hazards models showed increased risks among pesticide-exposed individuals for all-cause dementia, with hazard ratio (HR) 1.38 and 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.09-1.76, and for AD (HR 1.42, 95% CI 1.06-1.91). The risk of AD associated with organophosphate exposure (HR 1.53, 95% CI 1.05-2.23) was slightly higher than the risk associated with organochlorines (HR 1.49, 95% CI 0.99-2.24), which was nearly significant. CONCLUSIONS: Pesticide exposure may increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease in late life.

Neurology. 2010 May 11;74(19):1524-30

Link between chronic bacterial inflammation and Alzheimer disease.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a degenerative disease of brain that is associated with dementia, brain atrophy, accumulation of hyperphosphorylated tau protein and amyloid-beta peptide in hippocampus and cortex region of the brain. The development of AD is a multifactorial process that may also involve infection with bacterial pathogens. Recent studies suggest that bacteria including spirochetes have the potential to initiate cascade of events, leading to inflammatory condition of the central nervous system. Bacteria and spirochetes are activators of proinflammatory cytokines, generate free radicals, nitric oxide and further induction of apoptosis. Infection with these microbes may be considered as a risk factor for pathophysiology of AD or to cognitive changes. Recent studies have revealed that exposure to these microorganisms induces Aβ accumulation and tau protein phosphorylation, and chronic infections with these pathogenic bacteria can possibly contribute to progression of AD. In this article, we update and review the role of bacteria in the pathogenesis of AD resulting from initiation of cascade events in chronic inflammations and amyloidogenesis. Controlling these chronic infections with antibacterial or anti-inflammatory drugs will allow preventing inflammation, a risk factor for AD.

CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2014;13(7): 1140-7

Mitochondrial dysfunction and Alzheimer’s disease.

Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in causing metabolic abnormalities in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The searches for mitochondrial DNA variants associated with AD susceptibility have generated conflicting results. The age-related accumulation of somatic mitochondrial DNA deletion has been suggested to play a pathogenic role in the development of AD. Recent studies have demonstrated that amyloid-beta peptide (Abeta) progressively accumulates in mitochndrial matrix, as demonstrated in both transgenic mice over-expressing mutant amyloid precursor protein (APP) and autopsy brain from AD patients. Abeta-mediated mitochondrial stress was evidenced by impaired oxygen consumption and decreased respiratory chain complexes III and IV activities in brains from AD patients and AD-type transgenic mouse model. Furthermore, our studies indicated that interaction of intramitochondrial Abeta with a mitochondrial enzyme, amyloid binding alcohol dehydrogenase (ABAD), inhibits its enzyme activity, enhances generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), impairs energy metabolism, and exaggerates Abeta-induced spatial learning/memory deficits and neuropathological changes in transgenic AD-type mouse model. Interception of ABAD-Abeta interaction may be a potential therapeutic strategy for Alzheimer’s disease.

Curr Alzheimer Res. 2006 Dec;3(5):515-20

The role of inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease.

Considerable evidence gained over the past decade has supported the conclusion that neuroinflammation is associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology. Inflammatory components related to AD neuroinflammation include brain cells such as microglia and astrocytes, the classic and alternate pathways of the complement system, the pentraxin acute-phase proteins, neuronal-type nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (AChRs), peroxisomal proliferators-activated receptors (PPARs), as well as cytokines and chemokines. Both the microglia and astrocytes have been shown to generate beta-amyloid protein (Abeta), one of the main pathologic features of AD. Abeta itself has been shown to act as a pro-inflammatory agent causing the activation of many of the inflammatory components. Further substantiation for the role of neuroinflammation in AD has come from studies that demonstrate patients who took non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs had a lower risk of AD than those who did not. These same results have led to increased interest in pursuing anti-inflammatory therapy for AD but with poor results. On the other hand, increasing amount of data suggest that AChRs and PPARs are involved in AD-induced neuroinflammation and in this regard, future therapy may focus on their specific targeting in the AD brain.

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2005 Feb;37(2):289-305

Alzheimer Disease and Oxidative Stress.

Research in Alzheimer disease has recently demonstrated compelling evidence on the importance of oxidative processes in its pathogenesis. Cellular changes show that oxidative stress is an event that precedes the appearance of the hallmark pathologies of the disease, neurofibrillary tangles, and senile plaques. While it is still unclear what the initial source of the oxidative stress is in Alzheimer disease, it is likely that the process is highly dependent on redox-active transition metals such as iron and copper. Further investigation into the role that oxidative stress mechanisms seem to play in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease may lead to novel clinical interventions.

J Biomed Biotechnol. 2002;2(3):120-123


Prediagnostic selenium status and hepatobiliary cancer risk in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort.

BACKGROUND: Selenium status is suboptimal in many Europeans and may be a risk factor for the development of various cancers, including those of the liver and biliary tract. OBJECTIVE: We wished to examine whether selenium status in advance of cancer onset is associated with hepatobiliary cancers in the EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) study. DESIGN: We assessed prediagnostic selenium status by measuring serum concentrations of selenium and selenoprotein P (SePP; the major circulating selenium transfer protein) and examined the association with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC; n = 121), gallbladder and biliary tract cancers (GBTCs; n = 100), and intrahepatic bile duct cancer (IHBC; n = 40) risk in a nested case-control design within the EPIC study. Selenium was measured by total reflection X-ray fluorescence, and SePP was determined by a colorimetric sandwich ELISA. Multivariable ORs and 95% CIs were calculated by using conditional logistic regression. RESULTS: HCC and GBTC cases, but not IHBC cases, showed significantly lower circulating selenium and SePP concentrations than their matched controls. Higher circulating selenium was associated with a significantly lower HCC risk (OR per 20-µg/L increase: 0.41; 95% CI: 0.23, 0.72) but not with the risk of GBTC or IHBC. Similarly, higher SePP concentrations were associated with lowered HCC risk only in both the categorical and continuous analyses (HCC: P-trend ≤ 0.0001; OR per 1.5-mg/L increase: 0.37; 95% CI: 0.21, 0.63). CONCLUSION: These findings from a large prospective cohort provide evidence that suboptimal selenium status in Europeans may be associated with an appreciably increased risk of HCC development.

Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Aug;104(2):406-14

Selenium status is associated with colorectal cancer risk in the European prospective investigation of cancer and nutrition cohort.

Suboptimal intakes of the micronutrient selenium (Se) are found in many parts of Europe. Low Se status may contribute to colorectal cancer (CRC) development. We assessed Se status by measuring serum levels of Se and Selenoprotein P (SePP) and examined the association with CRC risk in a nested case-control design (966 CRC cases; 966 matched controls) within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Se was measured by total reflection X-ray fluorescence and SePP by immunoluminometric sandwich assay. Multivariable incidence rate ratios (IRRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using conditional logistic regression. Respective mean Se and SePP levels were 84.0 µg/L and 4.3 mg/L in cases and 85.6 µg/L and 4.4 mg/L in controls. Higher Se concentrations were associated with a non-significant lower CRC risk (IRR = 0.92, 95% CI: 0.82-1.03 per 25 µg/L increase). However, sub-group analyses by sex showed a statistically significant association for women (p(trend) = 0.032; per 25 µg/L Se increase, IRR = 0.83, 95% CI: 0.70-0.97) but not for men. Higher SePP concentrations were inversely associated with CRC risk (p(trend) = 0.009; per 0.806 mg/L increase, IRR = 0.89, 95% CI: 0.82-0.98) with the association more apparent in women (p(trend) = 0.004; IRR = 0.82, 95% CI: 0.72-0.94 per 0.806 mg/L increase) than men (p(trend) = 0.485; IRR = 0.98, 95% CI: 0.86-1.12 per 0.806 mg/L increase). The findings indicate that Se status is suboptimal in many Europeans and suggest an inverse association between CRC risk and higher serum Se status, which is more evident in women.

Int J Cancer. 2015 Mar 1;136(5):1149-61

Effects of selenium supplementation for cancer prevention in patients with carcinoma of the skin. A randomized controlled trial. Nutritional Prevention of Cancer Study Group.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether a nutritional supplement of selenium will decrease the incidence of cancer. DESIGN: A multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled cancer prevention trial. SETTING: Seven dermatology clinics in the eastern United States. PATIENTS: A total of 1312 patients (mean age, 63 years; range, 18-80 years) with a history of basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas of the skin were randomized from 1983 through 1991. Patients were treated for a mean (SD) of 4.5 (2.8) years and had a total follow-up of 6.4 (2.0) years. INTERVENTIONS: Oral administration of 200 microg of selenium per day or placebo. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary end points for the trial were the incidences of basal and squamous cell carcinomas of the skin. The secondary end points, established in 1990, were all-cause mortality and total cancer mortality, total cancer incidence, and the incidences of lung, prostate, and colorectal cancers. RESULTS: After a total follow-up of 8271 person-years, selenium treatment did not significantly affect the incidence of basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer. There were 377 new cases of basal cell skin cancer among patients in the selenium group and 350 cases among the control group (relative risk [RR], 1.10; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.95-1.28), and 218 new squamous cell skin cancers in the selenium group and 190 cases among the controls (RR, 1.14; 95% CI, 0.93-1.39). Analysis of secondary end points revealed that, compared with controls, patients treated with selenium had a nonsignificant reduction in all-cause mortality (108 deaths in the selenium group and 129 deaths in the control group [RR; 0.83; 95% CI, 0.63-1.08]) and significant reductions in total cancer mortality (29 deaths in the selenium treatment group and 57 deaths in controls [RR, 0.50; 95% CI, 0.31-0.80]), total cancer incidence (77 cancers in the selenium group and 119 in controls [RR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.47-0.85]), and incidences of lung, colorectal, and prostate cancers. Primarily because of the apparent reductions in total cancer mortality and total cancer incidence in the selenium group, the blinded phase of the trial was stopped early. No cases of selenium toxicity occurred. CONCLUSIONS: Selenium treatment did not protect against development of basal or squamous cell carcinomas of the skin. However, results from secondary end-point analyses support the hypothesis that supplemental selenium may reduce the incidence of, and mortality from, carcinomas of several sites. These effects of selenium require confirmation in an independent trial of appropriate design before new public health recommendations regarding selenium supplementation can be made.

JAMA. 1996 Dec 25;276(24):1957-63

Decreased incidence of prostate cancer with selenium supplementation: results of a double-blind cancer prevention trial.

OBJECTIVE: To test if supplemental dietary selenium is associated with changes in the incidence of prostate cancer. PATIENTS AND METHOD: A total of 974 men with a history of either a basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma were randomized to either a daily supplement of 200 microg of selenium or a placebo. Patients were treated for a mean of 4.5 years and followed for a mean of 6.5 years. RESULTS: Selenium treatment was associated with a significant (63%) reduction in the secondary endpoint of prostate cancer incidence during 1983-93. There were 13 prostate cancer cases in the selenium-treated group and 35 cases in the placebo group (relative risk, RR=0.37, P=0.002). Restricting the analysis to the 843 patients with initially normal levels of prostate-specific antigen (< or = 4 ng/mL), only four cases were diagnosed in the selenium-treated group and 16 cases were diagnosed in the placebo group after a 2 year treatment lag, (RR=0.26 P=0.009). There were significant health benefits also for the other secondary endpoints of total cancer mortality, and the incidence of total, lung and colorectal cancer. There was no significant change in incidence for the primary endpoints of basal and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. In light of these results, the ‘blinded’ phase of this trial was stopped early. CONCLUSIONS: Although selenium shows no protective effects against the primary endpoint of squamous and basal cell carcinomas of the skin, the selenium-treated group had substantial reductions in the incidence of prostate cancer, and total cancer incidence and mortality that demand further evaluation in well-controlled prevention trials.

Br J Urol. 1998 May;81(5):730-4

A prospective study of plasma Selenoprotein P and lung cancer risk among low-income adults.

BACKGROUND: Epidemiologic studies have shown increased risks of lung cancer among adults with low blood levels of selenium, although evidence is inconsistent. In the United States, the incidence of lung cancer is higher and mean serum selenium levels lower among Blacks than Whites, but prior studies have not assessed the selenium-lung cancer association among Blacks. METHODS: From the prospective Southern Community Cohort Study, we identified 372 participants who provided blood samples and subsequently developed lung cancer. Selenoprotein P (SEPP1), the most abundant selenoprotein in plasma and a biomarker of selenium nutriture, was measured in the plasma from these individuals and from 716 matched controls. RESULTS: Mean SEPP1 levels were significantly (P < 0.0001) lower among Blacks than Whites. Conditional logistic regression models accounting for smoking revealed a significant trend of increasing OR of lung cancer with decreasing SEPP1 tertiles among Blacks (P = 0.0006) but not Whites (P = 0.69; Pinteraction = 0.10). The ORs and corresponding 95% confidence intervals of lung cancer risk among those with lowest versus highest tertile levels of SEPP1 were 2.4 (1.5-3.0) among Blacks and 1.1 (0.6-2.1) among Whites. CONCLUSIONS: Among a mostly low-income population in the southeastern United States, lower levels of SEPP1 were associated with an increasing risk of lung cancer among Blacks but not Whites. IMPACT: The combined findings of higher prevalence of low selenium status and higher lung cancer risk associated with low status raise the possibility that selenium deficiency may contribute to observed racial disparities in lung cancer incidence.

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014 Jul;23(7):1238-44


Metformin in cancer prevention and therapy

The prevalence of diabetes is dramatically increasing worldwide. The results of numerous epidemiological studies indicate that diabetic population is not only at increased risk of cardiovascular complications, but also at substantially higher risk of many forms of malignancies. The use of metformin, the most commonly prescribed drug for type 2 diabetes, was repeatedly associated with the decreased risk of the occurrence of various types of cancers, especially of pancreas and colon and hepatocellular carcinoma. This observation was also confirmed by the results of numerous meta-analyses. There are however, several unanswered questions regarding the exact mechanism of the anticancer effect of metformin as well as its activity against various types of cancer both in diabetic and nondiabetic populations. In the present work we discuss the proposed mechanism(s) of anticancer effect of metformin and preclinical and clinical data suggesting its anticancer effect in different populations.

Ann Transl Med. 2014 Jun;2(6):57

Metformin: multi-faceted protection against cancer

The biguanide metformin, a widely used drug for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, may exert cancer chemopreventive effects by suppressing the transformative and hyperproliferative processes that initiate carcinogenesis. Metformin’s molecular targets in cancer cells (e.g., mTOR, HER2) are similar to those currently being used for directed cancer therapy. However, metformin is nontoxic and might be extremely useful for enhancing treatment efficacy of mechanism-based and biologically targeted drugs. Here, we first revisit the epidemiological, preclinical, and clinical evidence from the last 5 years showing that metformin is a promising candidate for oncology therapeutics. Second, the anticancer effects of metformin by both direct (insulin-independent) and indirect (insulin-dependent) mechanisms are discussed in terms of metformin-targeted processes and the ontogenesis of cancer stem cells (CSC), including Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) and microRNAs-regulated dedifferentiation of CSCs. Finally, we present preliminary evidence that metformin may regulate cellular senescence, an innate safeguard against cellular immortalization. There are two main lines of evidence that suggest that metformin’s primary target is the immortalizing step during tumorigenesis. First, metformin activates intracellular DNA damage response checkpoints. Second, metformin attenuates the anti-senescence effects of the ATP-generating glycolytic metabotype-the Warburg effect-, which is required for self-renewal and proliferation of CSCs. If metformin therapy presents an intrinsic barrier against tumorigenesis by lowering the threshold for stress-induced senescence, metformin therapeutic strategies may be pivotal for therapeutic intervention for cancer. Current and future clinical trials will elucidate whether metformin has the potential to be used in preventive and treatment settings as an adjuvant to current cancer therapeutics.

Oncotarget. 2011 Dec;2(12):896-917

Metformin promotes autophagy and apoptosis in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma by downregulating Stat3 signaling.

The antidiabetic drug metformin exerts chemopreventive and antineoplastic effects in many types of malignancies. However, the mechanisms responsible for metformin actions appear diverse and may differ in different types of cancer. Understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms specific for different cancers is important to optimize strategy for metformin treatment in different cancer types. Here, we investigate the in vitro and in vivo effects of metformin on esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) cells. Metformin selectively inhibited cell growth in ESCC tumor cells but not immortalized noncancerous esophageal epithelial cells. In addition to apoptosis, metformin triggered autophagy. Pharmacological or genetic inhibition of autophagy sensitized ESCC cells to metformin-induced apoptotic cell death. Mechanistically, signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3) and its downstream target Bcl-2 was inactivated by metformin treatment. Accordingly, small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated Stat3 knockdown enhanced metformin-induced autophagy and apoptosis, and concomitantly enhanced the inhibitory effect of metformin on cell viability. Similarly, the Bcl-2 proto-oncogene, an inhibitor of both apoptosis and autophagy, was repressed by metformin. Ectopic expression of Bcl-2 protected cells from metformin-mediated autophagy and apoptosis. In vivo, metformin downregulated Stat3 activity and Bcl-2 expression, induced apoptosis and autophagy, and inhibited tumor growth. Together, inactivation of Stat3-Bcl-2 pathway contributes to metformin-induced growth inhibition of ESCC by facilitating crosstalk between apoptosis and autophagy.

Cell Death Dis. 2014 Feb 27;5:e1088

Autophagy: cellular and molecular mechanisms

Autophagy is a self-degradative process that is important for balancing sources of energy at critical times in development and in response to nutrient stress. Autophagy also plays a housekeeping role in removing misfolded or aggregated proteins, clearing damaged organelles, such as mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum and peroxisomes, as well as eliminating intracellular pathogens. Thus, autophagy is generally thought of as a survival mechanism, although its deregulation has been linked to non-apoptotic cell death. Autophagy can be either non-selective or selective in the removal of specific organelles, ribosomes and protein aggregates, although the mechanisms regulating aspects of selective autophagy are not fully worked out. In addition to elimination of intracellular aggregates and damaged organelles, autophagy promotes cellular senescence and cell surface antigen presentation, protects against genome instability and prevents necrosis, giving it a key role in preventing diseases such as cancer, neurodegeneration, cardiomyopathy, diabetes, liver disease, autoimmune diseases and infections. This review summarizes the most up-to-date findings on how autophagy is executed and regulated at the molecular level and how its disruption can lead to disease.

J Pathol. 2010 May;221(1):3-12

The Glymphatic System: A Beginner’s Guide

The glymphatic system is a recently discovered macroscopic waste clearance system that utilizes a unique system of perivascular tunnels, formed by astroglial cells, to promote efficient elimination of soluble proteins and metabolites from the central nervous system. Besides waste elimination, the glymphatic system also facilitates brain-wide distribution of several compounds, including glucose, lipids, amino acids, growth factors, and neuromodulators. Intriguingly, the glymphatic system function mainly during sleep and is largely disengaged during wakefulness. The biological need for sleep across all species may therefore reflect that the brain must enter a state of activity that enables elimination of potentially neurotoxic waste products, including b-amyloid. Since the concept of the glymphatic system is relatively new, we will here review its basic structural elements, organization, regulation, and functions. We will also discuss recent studies indicating that glymphatic function is suppressed in various diseases and that failure of glymphatic function in turn might contribute to pathology in neurodegenerative disorders, traumatic brain injury and stroke.

Neurochem Res. 2015 Dec;40(12):2583-99.

Microglial activation and chronic neurodegeneration.

Microglia, the resident innate immune cells in the brain, have long been implicated in the pathology of neurodegenerative diseases. Accumulating evidence points to activated microglia as a chronic source of multiple neurotoxic factors, including tumor necrosis factor-a, nitric oxide, interleukin-1b, and reactive oxygen species (ROS), driving progressive neuron damage. Microglia can become chronically activated by either a single stimulus (e.g., lipopolysaccharide or neuron damage) or multiple stimuli exposures to result in cumulative neuronal loss with time. Although the mechanisms driving these phenomena are just beginning to be understood, reactive microgliosis (the microglial response to neuron damage) and ROS have been implicated as key mechanisms of chronic and neurotoxic microglial activation, particularly in the case of Parkinson’s disease. We review the mechanisms of neurotoxicity associated with chronic microglial activation and discuss the role of neuronal death and microglial ROS driving the chronic and toxic microglial phenotype.

Neurotherapeutics. 2010 Oct;7(4):354-65