Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Nov 2017

Arterial Stiffness, Toxic Pollution, Mediterranean Diet, and DHEA

Arterial Stiffness, Toxic Pollution, Mediterranean Diet, and DHEA

Arterial stiffness

Coronary calcification and the risk of heart failure in the elderly: the Rotterdam Study.

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to determine the association of coronary artery calcification (CAC) with incident heart failure in the elderly and examine its independence of overt coronary heart disease (CHD). BACKGROUND: Heart failure is often observed as a first manifestation of coronary atherosclerosis rather than a sequela of overt CHD. Although numerous studies have shown that CAC, an established measure of coronary atherosclerosis, is a strong predictor of CHD, the association between CAC and future heart failure has not been studied prospectively. METHODS: In the Rotterdam Study, a population-based cohort, 1,897 asymptomatic participants (mean age, 69.9 years; 58% women) underwent CAC scoring and were followed for the occurrence of heart failure and CHD. RESULTS: During a median follow-up of 6.8 years, there were 78 cases of heart failure and 76 cases of nonfatal CHD. After adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors, increasing CAC scores were associated with heart failure (p for trend = 0.001), with a hazard ratio of 4.1 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.7 to 10.1) for CAC scores >400 compared with CAC scores of 0 to 10. After censoring participants for incident nonfatal CHD, increasing extent of CAC remained associated with heart failure (p for trend = 0.046), with a hazard ratio of 2.9 (95% CI: 1.1 to 7.4) for CAC scores >400. Moreover, adding CAC to cardiovascular risk factors resulted in an optimism-corrected increase in the c-statistic by 0.030 (95% CI: 0.001 to 0.050) to 0.734 (95% CI: 0.698 to 0.770) and substantially improved the risk classification of subjects (continuous net reclassification index = 34.0%). CONCLUSIONS: CAC has a clear association with the risk of heart failure, independent of overt CHD. Because heart failure is highly prevalent in the elderly, it might be worthwhile to include heart failure as an outcome in future risk assessment programs incorporating CAC.

JACC Cardiovasc Imaging. 2012 Sep;5(9):874-80.

Stroke is associated with coronary calcification as detected by electron-beam CT: the Rotterdam Coronary Calcification Study.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Coronary calcification as detected by electron-beam CT measures the atherosclerotic plaque burden and has been reported to predict coronary events. Because atherosclerosis is a generalized process, coronary calcification may also be associated with manifest atherosclerotic disease at other sites of the vascular tree. We examined whether coronary calcification as detected by electron-beam CT is related to the presence of stroke. METHODS: From 1997 onward, subjects were invited to participate in the prospective Rotterdam Coronary Calcification Study and undergo electron-beam CT to detect coronary calcification. The study was embedded in the population-based Rotterdam Study. Calcifications were quantified in a calcium score according to Agatston’s method. Calcium scores were available for 2,013 subjects (mean age [SD], 71 [5.7] years). Fifty subjects had experienced stroke before scanning. RESULTS: Subjects were 2 times more likely to have experienced stroke when their calcium score was between 101 and 500 (odds ratio [OR], 2.1; 95% CI, 0.9 to 4.7) and 3 times more likely when their calcium score was above 500 (OR, 3.3; 95% CI, 1.5 to 7.2), compared with subjects in the lowest calcium score category (0 to 100). Additional adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors did not materially alter the risk estimates. CONCLUSIONS: In this population-based study, a markedly graded association was found between coronary calcification and stroke. The results suggest that coronary calcification as detected by electron-beam CT may be useful to identify subjects at high risk of stroke.

Stroke. 2002 Feb;33(2):462-5.

Coronary artery calcification is an independent stroke predictor in the general population.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Coronary artery calcification (CAC) is a noninvasive marker of plaque load that predicts myocardial infarcts in the general population. Herein, we investigated whether CAC predicts stroke events in addition to established risk factors that are part of the Framingham risk score. METHODS: A total of 4,180 subjects from the population-based Heinz Nixdorf Recall study (45-75 years of age; 47.1% men) without previous stroke, coronary heart disease, or myocardial infarction were evaluated for stroke events over 94.9 ± 19.4 months. Cox proportional hazards regressions were used to examine CAC as stroke predictor in addition to established vascular risk factors (age, sex, systolic blood pressure, low-density lipoprotein, high-density lipoprotein, diabetes mellitus, smoking, and atrial fibrillation). RESULTS: Ninety-two incident strokes occurred (82 ischemic, 10 hemorrhagic). Subjects suffering a stroke had significantly higher CAC values at baseline than the remaining subjects (median, 104.8[Q1;Q3, 14.0;482.2] vs 11.2[0;106.2]; P<0.001). In a multivariable Cox regression, log10(CAC+1) was an independent stroke predictor (hazards ratio, 1.52 [95% confidence interval, 1.19-1.92]; P=0.001) in addition to age (1.35 per 5 years [1.15-1.59]; P<0.001), systolic blood pressure (1.25 per 10 mm Hg [1.14-1.37]; P<0.001), and smoking (1.75 [1.07-2.87]; P=0.025). CAC predicted stroke in men and women, particularly in subjects <65 years of age and independent of atrial fibrillation. CAC discriminated stroke risk specifically in participants belonging to the low (<10%) and intermediate (10%-20%) Framingham risk score categories. CONCLUSIONS: CAC is an independent stroke predictor in addition to classical risk factors in subjects at low or intermediate vascular risk.

Stroke. 2013 Apr;44(4):1008-13.

Role of arterial stiffness in cardiovascular disease.

Propagation of the pressure wave along the arterial tree (pulse wave velocity [PWV]) is related to the intrinsic elasticity of the arterial wall. PWV is increased in stiffer arteries and, when measured over the aorta, is an independent predictor of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Given the predictive power of PWV, identifying strategies that prevent or reduce stiffening may be important in prevention of cardiovascular events. One view is that aortic stiffness occurs as a result of atherosclerosis along the aorta. However, there is little or no association between PWV and classical risk factors for atherosclerosis, other than age and blood pressure. Furthermore, PWV does not increase during early stages of atherosclerosis, as measured by intima-media thickness and non-calcified atheroma, but it does increase in the presence of aortic calcification that occurs within advanced atherosclerotic plaque. Age-related widening of pulse pressure is the major cause of age-related increase in prevalence of hypertension and has been attributed to arterial stiffening. This review summarizes the methods of measuring aortic stiffness in humans, the pathophysiological mechanisms leading to aortic stiffness, including its association with atherosclerosis, and the haemodynamic consequences of increased aortic stiffness.

JRSM Cardiovasc Dis. 2012 Jul 31;1(4).

Arterial stiffness and cardiovascular events: the Framingham Heart Study.

BACKGROUND: Various measures of arterial stiffness and wave reflection have been proposed as cardiovascular risk markers. Prior studies have not assessed relations of a comprehensive panel of stiffness measures to prognosis in the community. METHODS AND RESULTS: We used proportional hazards models to analyze first-onset major cardiovascular disease events (myocardial infarction, unstable angina, heart failure, or stroke) in relation to arterial stiffness (pulse wave velocity [PWV]), wave reflection (augmentation index, carotid-brachial pressure amplification), and central pulse pressure in 2,232 participants (mean age, 63 years; 58% women) in the Framingham Heart Study. During median follow-up of 7.8 (range, 0.2 to 8.9) years, 151 of 2,232 participants (6.8%) experienced an event. In multivariable models adjusted for age, sex, systolic blood pressure, use of antihypertensive therapy, total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations, smoking, and presence of diabetes mellitus, higher aortic PWV was associated with a 48% increase in cardiovascular disease risk (95% confidence interval, 1.16 to 1.91 per SD; P=0.002). After PWV was added to a standard risk factor model, integrated discrimination improvement was 0.7% (95% confidence interval, 0.05% to 1.3%; P<0.05). In contrast, augmentation index, central pulse pressure, and pulse pressure amplification were not related to cardiovascular disease outcomes in multivariable models. CONCLUSIONS: Higher aortic stiffness assessed by PWV is associated with increased risk for a first cardiovascular event. Aortic PWV improves risk prediction when added to standard risk factors and may represent a valuable biomarker of cardiovascular disease risk in the community.

Circulation. 2010 Feb 2;121(4):505-11

Arterial stiffness as a cause of cognitive decline and dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

BACKGROUND: Although arterial stiffness has recently been confirmed as a predictor of cardiovascular disease, the association between arterial stiffness and cognitive decline is less clear. AIM: We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine the evidence for large artery stiffness as a cause of cognitive decline and dementia. METHOD: Electronic databases were systematically searched until September 2011 for studies reporting on the longitudinal relationship between any validated measure of large artery stiffness and cognitive decline or dementia. Meta-analysis was performed on four studies investigating the association between aortic pulse wave velocity and a decline in Mini-Mental State Examination scores. RESULTS: Six relevant longitudinal studies were located, conducted over an average of 5 years follow up. Arterial stiffness was predictive of cognitive decline in five/six studies. In meta-analysis, higher aortic stiffness predicted lower Mini-Mental State Examination scores within the sample (b=-0.03, 95% confidence interval (CI): -0.06 to 0.01, n= 3,947), although studies were not all homogeneous, and statistical heterogeneity was present (I(2) = 71.9%, P= 0.01). Removal of one study with a relatively younger cohort and lower median aortic stiffness found higher aortic stiffness to significantly predict cognitive decline (b=-0.04, 95% CI: -0.07 to -0.01, n= 3,687) without evidence of heterogeneity (I(2) = 9.5%, P= 0.33). There was little research investigating the effects of aortic stiffness on the development of dementia. CONCLUSION: Aortic stiffness was found to predict cognitive decline in both qualitative review and quantitative analysis.

Intern Med J. 2012 Jul;42(7):808-15.

Arterial stiffness: detection and consequences in cognitive impairment and dementia of the elderly.

Arterial stiffness constitutes a reduction in the ability of large arteries to readily accommodate the increase in blood ejected from the heart during systole. Propagation of the pulse wave or pulse wave velocity (PWV) is a relatively simple, non-invasive, and reproducible method to determine arterial stiffness. There is mounting evidence that consistently implicates arterial stiffness in the pathogenesis of impaired cognitive function and dementia in the elderly. This paper summarizes this evidence. First, the majority (85%) of the twelve studies comprising over 6,000 individuals found a significant association between increased vascular stiffness and cognitive impairment in multivariate analysis after adjusting for age, educational level, and other factors that influence cognition. Second, higher pulse wave velocity, adjusted for age and other factors, was associated with a greater amount of white matter hyperintensities on brain imaging, indicating cerebral small-vessel disease. Third, studies consistently indicate that higher PWV is a significant predictor of subsequent cognitive decline. Fourth, some data support the proposition that arterial stiffness (PWV) increases progressively from persons with normal cognitive function to those with mild cognitive impairment, to Alzheimer’s disease, and then to vascular dementia. Fifth, there is some suggestion that antihypertensive drugs that have a more favorable effect to reduce vascular stiffness are more likely to reduce the occurrence of cognitive impairment. Taken together, these data suggest that artery stiffness may be a useful clinical tool to detect individuals at risk for cognitive impairment and dementia of the elderly.

J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;32(3):541-9.

Arterial stiffness and cognitive decline in well-functioning older adults.

BACKGROUND: Stiffness of the central arteries in aging may contribute to cerebral microvascular disease independent of hypertension and other vascular risk factors. Few studies of older adults have evaluated the association of central arterial stiffness with longitudinal cognitive decline. METHODS: We evaluated associations of aortic pulse wave velocity (centimeters per second), a measure of central arterial stiffness, with cognitive function and decline in 552 participants in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) study Cognitive Vitality Substudy (mean age ± SD = 73.1 ± 2.7 years, 48% men and 42% black). Aortic pulse wave velocity was assessed at baseline via Doppler-recorded carotid and femoral pulse waveforms. Global cognitive function, verbal memory, psychomotor, and perceptual speed were evaluated over 6 years. RESULTS: After adjustment for demographics, vascular risk factors, and chronic conditions, each 1 SD higher aortic pulse wave velocity (389 cm/s) was associated with poorer cognitive function: -0.11 SD for global function (SE = 0.04, p < .01), -0.09 SD for psychomotor speed (SE = 0.04, p = .03), and -0.12 SD for perceptual speed (SE = 0.04, p < .01). Higher aortic pulse wave velocity was also associated with greater decline in psychomotor speed, defined as greater than 1 SD more than the mean change (odds ratio = 1.42 [95% confidence interval = 1.06, 1.90]) but not with verbal memory or longitudinal decline in global function, verbal memory, or perceptual speed. Results were consistent with mixed models of decline in each cognitive test. CONCLUSIONS: In well-functioning older adults, central arterial stiffness may contribute to cognitive decline independent of hypertension and other vascular risk factors.

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2011 Dec;66(12):1336-42.

Role of inflammation in the pathogenesis of arterial stiffness.

Increased arterial stiffness is an independent predictor of cardiovascular disease independent from blood pressure. Recent studies have shed new light on the importance of inflammation on the pathogenesis of arterial stiffness. Arterial stiffness is associated with the increased activity of angiotensin II, which results in increased NADPH oxidase activity, reduced NO bioavailability and increased production of reactive oxygen species. Angiotensin II signaling activates matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) which degrade TGFb precursors to produce active TGFb, which then results in increased arterial fibrosis. Angiotensin II signaling also activates cytokines, including monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, TNF-a, interleukin-1, interleukin-17 and interleukin- 6. There is also ample clinical evidence that demonstrates the association of inflammation with increased arterial stiffness. Recent studies have shown that reductions in inflammation can reduce arterial stiffness. In patients with rheumatoid arthritis, increased aortic pulse wave velocity in patients was significantly reduced by anti tumor necrosis factor-a therapy. Among the major classes of anti hypertensive drugs, drugs that block the activation of the RAS system may be more effective in reducing the progression of arterial stiffness. Thus, there is rationale for targeting specific inflammatory pathways involved in arterial stiffness in the development of future drugs. Understanding the role of inflammation in the pathogenesis of arterial stiffness is important to understanding the complex puzzle that is the pathophysiology of arterial stiffening and may be important for future development of novel treatments.

Yonsei Med J. 2012 Mar;53(2):258-61.

Toxic pollution

Recognizing the impact of ambient air pollution on skin health.

Ambient air pollution is a known public health hazard that negatively impacts non-cutaneous organs; however, our knowledge regarding the effects on skin remains limited. Current scientific evidence suggests there are four mechanisms by which ambient air pollutants cause adverse effects on skin health: (i) generation of free radicals, (ii) induction of inflammatory cascade and subsequent impairment of skin barrier, (iii) activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) and (iv) alterations to skin microflora. In this review, we provide a comprehensive overview on ambient air pollutants and their relevant sources, and highlight current evidence of the effects on skin.

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2015 Dec;29(12):2326-32. doi

Air pollution and skin diseases: Adverse effects of airborne particulate matter on various skin diseases.

Environmental air pollution encompasses various particulate matters (PMs). The increased ambient PM from industrialization and urbanization is highly associated with morbidity and mortality worldwide, presenting one of the most severe environmental pollution problems. This article focuses on the correlation between PM and skin diseases, along with related immunological mechanisms. Recent epidemiological studies on the cutaneous impacts of PM showed that PM affects the development and exacerbation of skin diseases. PM induces oxidative stress via production of reactive oxygen species and secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-a, IL-1a, and IL-8. In addition, the increased production of ROS such as superoxide and hydroxyl radical by PM exposure increases MMPs including MMP-1, MMP-2, and MMP-9, resulting in the degradation of collagen. These processes lead to the increased inflammatory skin diseases and skin aging. In addition, environmental cigarette smoke, which is well known as an oxidizing agent, is closely related with androgenetic alopecia (AGA). Also, ultrafine particles (UFPs) including black carbon and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) enhance the incidence of skin cancer. Overall, increased PM levels are highly associated with the development of various skin diseases via the regulation of oxidative stress and inflammatory cytokines. Therefore, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory drugs may be useful for treating PM-induced skin diseases.

Life Sci. 2016 May 1;152:126-34.

Environmental pollutants and skin cancer.

We are increasingly exposed to environmental pollution. Pollutants can be inhaled, ingested or come into contact with the skin depending on the form in which they occur. On metabolization, activation, or accumulation, pollutants can become extremely toxic for the vital organs and this is often related to a strong genotoxic effect. Since the skin acts as a barrier between the organism and the environment, it is frequently directly exposed to pollution. It is very often degraded by polluting agents and acts as an inlet toward other tissues. Numerous studies in man recognize and demonstrate the carcinogenic power of certain pollutants in the digestive and respiratory tracts. The “pollutants” that react most specifically with the skin are: ultraviolet radiation, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (e.g., benzo[a]pyrene), volatile organic compounds (e.g., benzene), heavy metals, and ozone. Ultraviolet radiation, a “physical” pollutant, has been described as being the factor responsible for most skin cancers in man. The genotoxicity of UV light is well documented (type of lesion or mutation, etc.) and its carcinogenic effect is clearly demonstrated in vivo in man. A few epidemiological studies describe the carcinogenicity of certain pollutants such as arsenic or lead on the skin. However, most of the evidence for the role of pollutants in skin cancers comes from in vivo animal studies or from in vitro studies (e.g., PAHs). In this report, different studies are presented to illustrate the research strategies developed to investigate the mechanism of action of “chemical” pollutants and their potential role in human skin pathology. All the study models and the associated techniques of investigation are tools for a better understanding and thus more efficient prevention of the deleterious effects caused by the environment.

Cell Biol Toxicol. 2002;18(5):341-8.

The causes of skin cancer: a comprehensive review.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in fair-skinned populations around the world. The incidence and mortality rates of skin cancers are dramatically increasing and thus pose a threat to public health. Understanding the etiology and pathogenesis of skin cancer remains a goal for healthcare systems. A clearer understanding of causative factors is an essential step in the prevention of skin cancer. This article comprehensively reviews the causative agents which play a role in the development of skin cancer. Ultraviolet radiation (UV) from sun exposure is the most important cause of skin cancer. Sunburns and excessive exposures cause cumulative damage which induces immunosuppression and skin cancers. Ozone depletion, the level of UV light, elevation, latitude, altitude and weather conditions influence the emission of UV radiation reaching the earth’s surface. Organ transplant recipients and AIDS patients have an increased incidence of skin cancers. Some treatment modalities, including radiation therapy, phototherapy and psoralen and long-wave ultraviolet radiation (PUVA) can also predispose to skin cancers. Viral infections such as the human papilloma virus can cause squamous cell carcinomas. Individuals with familial genetic syndromes are susceptible to specific types of skin cancers. Ionizing radiation, environmental pollutants, chemical carcinogens and work-related exposures have been associated with skin cancers. Exposure to artificial UV radiation (tanning beds and lamps), aging, skin color, diet and smoking are attributable risks. Skin cancers have been found in dermatoses and various types of keratoses, chronically injured or nonhealing wounds, and scars. This article provides a comprehensive and thorough overview of skin cancer, with an emphasis on understanding its epidemiology, incidence, etiology and related risk factors.

Drugs Today (Barc). 2005 Jan;41(1):37-53.

Free radicals and extrinsic skin aging.

Human skin is constantly directly exposed to the air, solar radiation, environmental pollutants, or other mechanical and chemical insults, which are capable of inducing the generation of free radicals as well as reactive oxygen species (ROS) of our own metabolism. Extrinsic skin damage develops due to several factors: ionizing radiation, severe physical and psychological stress, alcohol intake, poor nutrition, overeating, environmental pollution, and exposure to UV radiation (UVR). It is estimated that among all these environmental factors, UVR contributes up to 80%. UV-induced generation of ROS in the skin develops oxidative stress, when their formation exceeds the antioxidant defence ability of the target cell. The primary mechanism by which UVR initiates molecular responses in human skin is via photochemical generation of ROS mainly formation of superoxide anion (O(2) (-) (·)), hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)), hydroxyl radical (OH(·)), and singlet oxygen ((1)O(2)). The only protection of our skin is in its endogenous protection (melanin and enzymatic antioxidants) and antioxidants we consume from the food (vitamin A, C, E, etc.). The most important strategy to reduce the risk of sun UVR damage is to avoid the sun exposure and the use of sunscreens. The next step is the use of exogenous antioxidants orally or by topical application and interventions in preventing oxidative stress and in enhanced DNA repair.

Dermatol Res Pract. 2012;2012:135206

Oxidative stress in aging human skin.

Oxidative stress in skin plays a major role in the aging process. This is true for intrinsic aging and even more for extrinsic aging. Although the results are quite different in dermis and epidermis, extrinsic aging is driven to a large extent by oxidative stress caused by UV irradiation. In this review the overall effects of oxidative stress are discussed as well as the sources of ROS including the mitochondrial ETC, peroxisomal and ER localized proteins, the Fenton reaction, and such enzymes as cyclooxygenases, lipoxygenases, xanthine oxidases, and NADPH oxidases. Furthermore, the defense mechanisms against oxidative stress ranging from enzymes like superoxide dismutases, catalases, peroxiredoxins, and GSH peroxidases to organic compounds such as L-ascorbate, a-tocopherol, beta-carotene, uric acid, CoQ10, and glutathione are described in more detail. In addition the oxidative stress induced modifications caused to proteins, lipids and DNA are discussed. Finally age-related changes of the skin are also a topic of this review. They include a disruption of the epidermal calcium gradient in old skin with an accompanying change in the composition of the cornified envelope. This modified cornified envelope also leads to an altered anti-oxidative capacity and a reduced barrier function of the epidermis.

Biomolecules. 2015 Apr 21;5(2):545-89

Pollution and skin: from epidemiological and mechanistic studies to clinical implications.

In recent years, the health effects associated with air pollution have been intensively studied. Most studies focus on air pollution effects on the lung and the cardiovascular system. More recently, however, epidemiological and mechanistic studies suggest that air pollution is also affecting skin integrity. This state-of-the-art review focuses on this latter aspect; it was developed with the collaboration of European and Chinese board of experts with specific interests in environmental health, clinical and basic research in dermatology and cosmetic dermatology. A literature review limited to pollution and health effects and (sensitive) skin was performed using PubMed. Review and original articles were chosen. We summarize the existing scientific evidence that air pollution exerts detrimental effects on human skin, discuss potential clinical implications and suggest specific and unspecific cosmetic protective measures.

J Dermatol Sci. 2014 Dec;76(3):163-8.

Marrubium vulgare L. methanolic extract inhibits inflammatory response and prevents cardiomyocyte fibrosis in isoproterenol-induced acute myocardial infarction in rats.

INTRODUCTION: Nowadays, finding new therapeutic compounds from natural products for treatment and prevention of a variety of diseases including cardiovascular disorders is getting a great deal of attention. This approach would result in finding new drugs which are more effective and have fewer side effects than the conventional medicines. The present study was designed to investigate the anti-inflammatory effect of the methanolic extract of Marrubiumvulgare, a popular traditional medicinal herb, on isoproterenol-induced myocardial infarction (MI) in rat model. METHODS: Male Wistar rats were assigned to 6 groups of control, sham, isoproterenol, and treatment with 10, 20, and 40 mg/kg/12h of the extract given orally concurrent with MI induction. A subcutaneous injection of isoproterenol (100 mg/kg/day) for two consecutive days was used to induce MI. Then, histopathological changes and inflammatory markers were evaluated. RESULTS: Isoproterenol injection increased inflammatory response, as shown by a significant increase in peripheral neutrophil count, myocardial myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity and serum levels of creatinine kinase-MB (CK-MB) and TNF-a (p<0.001). In the groups treated with 10, 20 and 40 mg/kg of M.vulgare extract serum CK-MB was subsided by 55.4%, 52.2% and 69%, respectively. Also treatment with the extract (40 mg/kg) significantly reduced (p<0.001) MPO activity in MI group. The levels of TNF-a was also considerably declined in the serums of MI group (p<0.001). In addition, peripheral neutrophil count, was significantly lowered by all doses of the extract (p<0.001). Interstitial fibrosis significantly was attenuated in treated groups compared with control MI group. CONCLUSION: The results of study demonstrate that the M. vulgare extract has strong protective effects against isoproterenol-induced myocardial infarction and it seems possible that this protection is due to its anti-inflammatory effects.

Bioimpacts. 2014;4(1):21-7.

Mediterranean diet

Polyphenol intake from a Mediterranean diet decreases inflammatory biomarkers related to atherosclerosis: a substudy of the PREDIMED trial.

High dietary polyphenol intake is associated with reduced all-cause mortality and a lower incidence of cardiovascular events. However, the mechanisms involved are not fully understood. The aim of the present substudy of the PREvención con DIetaMEDiterránea (Prevention with Mediterranean diet; PREDIMED) trial was to analyse the relationship between polyphenol intake measured by total urinary polyphenol excretion (TPE), and circulating inflammatory biomarkers and cardiovascular risk factors in elderly individuals. A substudy of 1,139 high-risk participants was carried out within the PREDIMED trial. The subjects were randomly assigned to a low-fat control diet or to two Mediterranean diets, supplemented with either extra-virgin olive oil or nuts. Dietary intake, anthropometric data, clinical and laboratory assessments, including inflammatory biomarkers, and urinary TPE were measured at baseline and after the one-year intervention. Participants in the highest tertile of changes in urinary TPE (T3) showed significantly lower plasma levels of inflammatory biomarkers [vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1) (-9.47 ng ml-1 ), intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (-14.71 ng ml-1 ), interleukin 6 (-1.21 pg ml-1 ), tumour necrosis factor alpha (-7.05 pg ml-1 ) and monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (-3.36 pg ml-1 )] than those inthe lowest tertile (T1, P < 0.02; all). A significant inverse correlation existed between urinary TPE and the plasma concentration of\VCAM-1 (r = -0.301; P < 0.001). In addition, systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP) decreased and plasma high-density lipoprotein cholesterol increased in parallel with increasing urinary TPE (T3 vs. T1) (P < 0.005 and P = 0.004, respectively). Increases in polyphenol intake measured as urinary TPE are associated with decreased inflammatory biomarkers, suggesting a dose-dependent anti-inflammatory effect of polyphenols. In addition, high polyphenol intake improves cardiovascular risk factors- mainly BP and the lipid profile.

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2017 Jan;83(1):114-128.

Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet.

BACKGROUND: Observational cohort studies and a secondary prevention trial have shown an inverse association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and cardiovascular risk. We conducted a randomized trial of this diet pattern for the primary prevention of cardiovascular events. METHODS: In a multicenter trial in Spain, we randomly assigned participants who were at high cardiovascular risk, but with no cardiovascular disease at enrollment, to one of three diets: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts, or a control diet (advice to reduce dietary fat). Participants received quarterly individual and group educational sessions and, depending on group assignment, free provision of extra-virgin olive oil, mixed nuts, or small nonfood gifts. The primary end point was the rate of major cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction, stroke, or death from cardiovascular causes). On the basis of the results of an interim analysis, the trial was stopped after a median follow-up of 4.8 years. RESULTS: A total of 7,447 persons were enrolled (age range, 55 to 80 years); 57% were women. The two Mediterranean-diet groups had good adherence to the intervention, according to self-reported intake and biomarker analyses. A primary end-point event occurred in 288 participants. The multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios were 0.70 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.54 to 0.92) and 0.72 (95% CI, 0.54 to 0.96) for the group assigned to a Mediterranean diet with extra-virgin olive oil (96 events) and the group assigned to a Mediterranean diet with nuts (83 events), respectively, versus the control group (109 events). No diet-related adverse effects were reported. CONCLUSIONS: Among persons at high cardiovascular risk, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts reduced the incidence of major cardiovascular events.

N Engl J Med. 2013 Apr 4;368(14):1279-90.

Health-promoting properties of artichoke in preventing cardiovascular disease by its lipidic and glycemic-reducing action.

The artichoke, Cynara scolymus, is one of the most ancient plants grown in the world, and its extracts, obtained from different parts of the plant (leaves, fruits and roots), have been used as medicaments from time immemorial. The pharmacological and therapeutic effects of the artichoke on the liver had already been well known in the 17th century. Modern studies started in the last century confirmed the stimulating properties of artichoke extracts on the liver and gallbladder. The ensuing wave of research was initially focused on the patent liver-stimulating, diuretic and choleretic effects exerted by artichoke preparations on both animals and man, then discovering such other therapeutic properties as the hypolipemizing activity, antioxidant activity and hypoglycemizing activity. This review enumerates the most significant studies that have highlighted these therapeutic properties. Complementary medicine information needs to be incorporated into clinical practice and patient and professional education, in addition to adequate education about proper nutrition. Awareness of the widespread use of complementary and alternative medicine by people with metabolic disorders is crucial for healthcare professionals in order to prevent cardiovascular disease.

Monaldi Arch Chest Dis. 2013 Mar;80(1):17-26.

Artichoke juice improves endothelial function in hyperlipemia.

Artichoke extracts have been shown to produce various pharmacological effects, such as the inhibition of cholesterol biosynthesis and of LDL oxidation. Endothelial dysfunction represents the first stage of atherosclerotic disease; it is usually evaluated in humans by a noninvasive ultrasound method as brachial flow-mediated vasodilation (FMV) and by the determination of several humoral markers such as vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), and E-selectin. Aim of the study was to investigate the effects of dietary supplementation with artichoke juice on brachial FMV of hyperlipemics. We studied 18 moderately hyperlipemic patients (LDL cholesterol > 130 <200 mg/dl and/or triglycerides >150 <250 mg/dl) of both genders and 10 hyperlipemic patients, matched for age, sex and lipid parameters. All subjects were under isocaloric hypolipidic diet. A basal determination of serum lipids, soluble VCAM-1, ICAM-1, E-selectin and brachial FMV was performed. Thereafter patients were given 20 ml/die of frozen artichoke juice. The same parameters were repeated after 6 weeks. After artichoke treatment there was an increase of triglycerides (156 +/- 54 vs 165 +/- 76 mg/dL, p <0.05) and a reduction of total cholesterol (261 +/- 37 vs 244 +/- 38 mg/dL, p <0.05) and LDL cholesterol (174 +/- 31 vs 160 +/- 34 mg/dL, p <0.05). Controls showed a significant decrease in total and LDL cholesterol (respectively: 267 +/- 22 vs 249 +/- 20 mg/dL and 180 +/- 24 vs 164 +/- 23 mg/dL, both p <0.001). After artichoke there was a decrease in VCAM-1(1633 +/- 1293 vs 1139 +/- 883 ng/mL, p <0.05) and ICAM-1(477 +/- 123 vs 397 +/- 102 ng/mL, p <0.05), brachial FMV increased (3.3 +/- 2.7 vs 4.5 +/- 2.4%, p <0.01), while controls did not exhibit significant changes in VCAM-1, ICAM-1, E-selectin and brachial FMV. Univariate analysis showed that, in artichoke patients, changes of VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 were significantly related to changes in brachial FMV (respectively: r=-0.66 and r=-0.62; both p <0.05). In conclusion, artichoke dietary supplementation seems to positively modulate endothelial function in hypercholesterolemia

Life Sci. 2004 Dec 31;76(7):775-82.

A monounsaturated fatty acid-rich pecan-enriched diet favorably alters the serum lipid profile of healthy men and women.

Frequent consumption of nuts is associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. We investigated the effect of pecans rich in monounsaturated fat as an alternative to the Step 1 diet in modifying serum lipids and lipoproteins in men and women with normal to moderately high serum cholesterol. In a single-blind, randomized, controlled, crossover feeding study, we assigned 23 subjects (mean age: 38 y; 9 women, 14 men) to follow two diets, each for 4 wk: a Step I diet and a pecan-enriched diet (accomplished by proportionately reducing all food items in a Step I diet by one fifth for a 20% isoenergetic replacement with pecans). The percentage of energy from fat in the two diets was 28.3 and 39.6%, respectively. Both diets improved the lipid profile; however, the pecan-enriched diet decreased both serum total and LDL cholesterol by 0.32 mmol/L (6.7 and 10.4%, respectively) and triglyceride by 0.14 mmol/L (11.1%) beyond the Step I diet, while increasing HDL cholesterol by 0.06 mmol/L (2.5 mg/dL). Serum apolipoprotein B and lipoprotein(a) decreased by 11.6 and 11.1%, respectively, and apolipoprotein A1 increased by 2.2% when subjects consumed the pecan compared with the Step I diet. These differences were all significant (P < 0.05). A 20% isoenergetic replacement of a Step I diet with pecans favorably altered the serum lipid profile beyond the Step I diet, without increasing body weight. Nuts such as pecans that are rich in monounsaturated fat may therefore be recommended as part of prescribed cholesterol-lowering diet of patients or habitual diet of healthy individuals.

J Nutr. 2001 Sep;131(9):2275-9.

Lentil polyphenol extract prevents angiotensin II-induced hypertension, vascular remodelling and perivascular fibrosis.

The objective of the study was to investigate whether chronic administration of the Morton lentil polyphenol extract (MLPE), which possesses rich phenolic compounds and a high antioxidant activity, had any protective effects on angiotensin II-induced hypertension. After four weeks of subcutaneous infusion of angiotensin II (200 ng kg(-1) min(-1)) in male SD rats, the water intake and mean artery pressure was significantly increased by 39.8% and 48.3%, respectively, as compared with the control. The media/lumen ratio of the small arteries in the heart and kidneys were increased by 117% and 168% by angiotensin II infusion. The perivascular fibrosis was increased by 65% and 32% in the heart and kidneys, respectively. Levels of the reactive oxygen species in the aorta was enhanced by 115.8%. In another group of rats, which received four weeks of lentil extract administration (1% freeze-dried MLPE in the drinking water), followed by another four weeks of extract administration plus angiotensin II infusion, the angiotensin II-induced enhancement in water intake and mean artery pressures decreased by 12.7% and 8.2%, respectively, as compared with the rats that received angiotensin II infusion alone. The angiotensin II-induced rats showed increases in the media/lumen ratios which were attenuated by 43.6% and 47.2% in the small arteries of heart and kidneys, respectively. Angiotensin II-induced perivascular fibrosis was attenuated by 30% and 26% in the rats that received the extract. Angiotensin II-induced rats showed reactive oxygen species levels in the aorta was reduced by 48.9%. These findings demonstrated that lentil extract attenuated angiotensin II-induced hypertension and associated pathological changes, including remodelling and perivascular fibrosis in the small resistant arteries of heart and kidneys.

Food Funct. 2012 Feb;3(2):127-33.

Pecans acutely increase plasma postprandial antioxidant capacity and catechins and decrease LDL oxidation in humans.

Bioactive constituents of pecan nuts such as g-tocopherol and flavan-3-ol monomers show antioxidant properties in vitro, but bioavailability in humans is not known. We examined postprandial changes in plasma oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) and in concentrations of tocopherols, catechins, oxidized LDL, and malondialdehyde (MDA) in response to pecan test meals. Sixteen healthy men and women (23-44 y, BMI 22.7 ± 3.4) were randomly assigned to 3 sequences of test meals composed of whole pecans, blended pecans, or an isocaloric meal of equivalent macronutrient composition but formulated of refined ingredients in a crossover design with a 1-wk washout period between treatments. Blood was sampled at baseline and at intervals up to 24 h postingestion. Following the whole and blended pecan test meals, plasma concentrations of g-tocopherols doubled at 8 h (P < 0.001) and hydrophilic- and lipophilic-ORAC increased 12 and 10% at 2 h, respectively. Post whole pecan consumption, oxidized LDL decreased 30, 33, and 26% at 2, 3, and 8 h, respectively (P < 0.05), and epigallocatechin-3-gallate concentrations at 1 h (mean ± SEM; 95.1 ± 30.6 nmol/L) and 2 h (116.3 ± 80.5 nmol/L) were higher than at baseline (0 h) and after the control test meal at 1 h (P < 0.05). The postprandial molar ratio of MDA:triglycerides decreased by 37, 36, and 40% at 3, 5, and 8 h, respectively (P < 0.05), only when whole and blended pecan data were pooled. These results show that bioactive constituent of pecans are absorbable and contribute to postprandial antioxidant defenses.

J Nutr. 2011 Jan;141(1):56-62

Atheroprotective effect of dietary walnut intake in ApoE-deficient mice: involvement of lipids and coagulation factors.

INTRODUCTION: Consumption of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and antioxidant polyphenols is considered to decline the risk of cardiovascular disease. MATERIALS AND METHODS: To provide an explanation for this cardioprotective effect, we performed an intervention study with proatherogenic Apoe(-/-) mice which were fed during eight weeks with a high fat diet supplemented with either walnuts (rich in n-3 PUFA and antioxidant compounds), walnut oil (with n-3 PUFA only) or sunflower oil as a control (12 mice per group). RESULTS: Feeding walnuts, but not walnut oil, caused a 55% reduction in atherosclerotic plaque development in the aortic arch in comparison to the control diet. This was associated with reduced staining of plaques for CD36, a scavenger receptor expressed by macrophages. Feeding mice with walnuts also lowered plasma levels of triglycerides, cholesterol and prothrombin with 36%, 23% and 21 %, respectively, compared to control diet. In addition, accumulation of lipids in the liver was decreased, while plasma antioxidant capacity was increased. On the other hand, feeding mice with walnut oil did not provoke significant changes in these parameters in comparison to the control diet. Platelet activation and thrombus formation under flow remained unchanged with either diet. CONCLUSIONS: In Apoe(-/-) mice on high fat diet, intake of dietary walnut (but not walnut oil) beneficially influences lipid metabolism and atherosclerotic plaque development, with no more than limited effects on platelet and coagulation function.

Thromb Res. 2013 May;131(5):411-7


Dehydroepiandrosterone treatment effects on weight, bone density, bone metabolism and mood in women suffering from anorexia nervosa-a pilot study.

We investigated the effects of the administration of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on weight, bone metabolism, bone density and clinical mood symptoms in outpatient Anorexia Nervosa (AN) patients. AN patients (n=26) were double-blindly randomized to receive DHEA (100mg) or placebo for 6 months. Outcome measures were bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC) measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and metabolism indexes, steroid hormones, and mood and eating disorder symptoms measured at baseline and at the 3 and 6 months follow-up visits. Mood and eating disorder symptoms were assessed monthly by the Beck Depression Inventory, Eating Disorder Inventory and Clinical Global Improvement Scales. No treatment or treatment by time interaction was observed for any bone density measures. Deoxypiridinolyne (DPD) was positively correlated with weight (P=0.02). An increase in body mass index (BMI) in the DHEA group was significantly higher at 4 months compared to the control group (P=0.05). Improvement of mood was significantly correlated with weight only in the DHEA group. Despite a significant decrease in DPD, no improvement in bone mineral density was detected. However, patients treated with DHEA benefited from a significant increase in BMI, which was positively correlated with improvement in mood.

Psychiatry Res. 2012 Dec 30;200(2-3):544-9.

Dehydroepiandrosterone treatment of midlife dysthymia.

BACKGROUND: This study evaluated the efficacy of the adrenal androgen, dehydroepiandrosterone, in the treatment of midlife-onset dysthymia. METHODS: A double-blind, randomized crossover treatment study was performed as follows: 3 weeks on 90 mg dehydroepiandrosterone, 3 weeks on 450 mg dehydroepiandrosterone, and 6 weeks on placebo. Outcome measures consisted of the following. Cross-sectional self-ratings included the Beck Depression Inventory, and visual analogue symptom scales. Cross-sectional objective ratings included the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, the Cornell Dysthymia Scale and a cognitive test battery. Seventeen men and women aged 45 to 63 years with midlife-onset dysthymia participated in this study. Response to dehydroepiandrosterone or placebo was defined as a 50% reduction from baseline in either the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale or the Beck Depression Inventory. RESULTS: In 15 patients who completed the study, a robust effect of dehydroepiandrosterone on mood was observed compared with placebo. Sixty percent of the patients responded to dehydroepiandrosterone at the end of the 6-week treatment period compared with 20% on placebo. A significant response was seen after 3 weeks of treatment on 90 mg per day. The symptoms that improved most significantly were anhedonia, loss of energy, lack of motivation, emotional “numbness,” sadness, inability to cope, and worry. Dehydroepiandrosterone showed no specific effects on cognitive function or sleep disturbance, although a type II error could not be ruled out. CONCLUSIONS: This pilot study suggests that dehydroepiandrosterone is an effective treatment for midlife-onset dysthymia.

Biol Psychiatry. 1999 Jun 15;45(12):1533-41.

Dehydroepiandrosterone monotherapy in midlife-onset major and minor depression.

CONTEXT: Alternative and over-the-counter medicines have become increasingly popular choices for many patients who prefer not to take traditional antidepressants. The adrenal androgen and neurosteroid dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is available as over-the-counter hormonal therapy and previously has been reported to have antidepressant-like effects. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy of DHEA as a monotherapy treatment for midlife-onset depression. DESIGN: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover treatment study was performed from January 4, 1996, through August 31, 2002. Settings The National Institute of Mental Health Midlife Outpatient Clinic in the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, Bethesda, Md. Patients Men (n = 23) and women (n = 23) aged 45 to 65 years with midlife-onset major or minor depression participated in this study. None of the subjects received concurrent antidepressant medications. Intervention Six weeks of DHEA therapy, 90 mg/d for 3 weeks and 450 mg/d for 3 weeks, and 6 weeks of placebo. MAIN OUTCOME The 17-Item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Additional measures included the Derogatis Interview for Sexual Functioning. Results were analyzed by means of repeated-measures analysis of variance and post hoc Bonferroni t tests. RESULTS: Six weeks of DHEA administration was associated with a significant improvement in the 17-Item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale ratings compared with both baseline (P<.01) and 6 weeks of placebo treatment (P<.01). A 50% or greater reduction in baseline Hamilton Depression Rating Scale scores was observed in 23 subjects after DHEA and in 13 subjects after placebo treatments. Six weeks of DHEA treatment also was associated with significant improvements in Derogatis Interview for Sexual Functioning scores relative to baseline and placebo conditions. CONCLUSION: We find DHEA to be an effective treatment for midlife-onset major and minor depression.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005 Feb;62(2):154-62.

Double-blind treatment of major depression with dehydroepiandrosterone.

OBJECTIVE: This study was designed to assess possible antidepressant effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), an abundant adrenocortical hormone in humans. METHOD: Twenty-two patients with major depression, either medication-free or on stabilized antidepressant regimens, received either DHEA (maximum dose = 90 mg/day) or placebo for 6 weeks in a double-blind manner and were rated at baseline and at the end of the 6 weeks with the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. Patients previously stabilized with antidepressants had the study medication added to that regimen; others received DHEA or placebo alone. RESULTS: DHEA was associated with a significantly greater decrease in Hamilton depression scale ratings than was placebo. Five of the 11 patients treated with DHEA, compared with none of the 11 given placebo, showed a 50% decrease or greater in depressive symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that DHEA treatment may have significant antidepressant effects in some patients with major depression. Further, larger-scale trials are warranted.

Am J Psychiatry. 1999 Apr;156(4):646-9.

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) treatment of depression.

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfate, DHEA-S, are plentiful adrenal steroid hormones that decrease with aging and may have significant neuropsychiatric effects. In this study, six middle-aged and elderly patients with major depression and low basal plasma DHEA f1p4or DHEA-S levels were openly administered DHEA (30-90 mg/d x 4 weeks) in doses sufficient to achieve circulating plasma levels observed in younger healthy individuals. Depression ratings, as well as aspects of memory performance significantly improved. One treatment-resistant patient received extended treatment with DHEA for 6 months: her depression ratings improved 48-72% and her semantic memory performance improved 63%. These measures returned to baseline after treatment ended. In both studies, improvements in depression ratings and memory performance were directly related to increases in plasma levels of DHEA and DHEA-S and to increases in their ratios with plasma cortisol levels. These preliminary data suggest DHEA may have antidepressant and promemory effects and should encourage double-blind trials in depressed patients.

Biol Psychiatry. 1997 Feb 1;41(3):311-8.

SREBP-1c in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease induced by Western-type high-fat diet plus fructose in rats.

This study concentrated on the initial events triggering the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease induced by a high-fat plus fructose (HF-F) diet and on the possibility of delaying nonalcoholic fatty liver disease progression by adding dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) to the diet. Sterol regulatory element binding protein-1c (SREBP-1c) activation plays a crucial role in the progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease induced by an HF-F diet. This study investigated the protective effects of DHEA, a compound of physiological origin with multitargeted antioxidant properties, against the induction of SREBP-1c and on liver insulin resistance in rats fed an HF-F diet, which mimics a typical unhealthy Western diet. An HF-F diet, fortified or not with DHEA (0.01%, w/w), was administered for 15 weeks to male Wistar rats. After HF-F the liver showed unbalanced oxidative status, fatty infiltration, hepatic insulin resistance, and inflammation. The addition of DHEA to the diet reduced both activation of oxidative-stress-dependent pathways and expression of SREBP-1c and partially restored the expression of liver X-activated receptor-alpha and insulin receptor substrate-2 genes. DHEA supplementation of the HF-F diet reduced de novo lipogenesis and delayed progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, demonstrating a relationship between oxidative stress and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease via SREBP-1c.

Free Radic Biol Med. 2009 Oct 1;47(7):1067-74.