Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Jan 2018

Carnosine, CoQ10, Bifidobacteria, and Olive oil

Carnosine, CoQ10, Bifidobacteria, and Olive oil


Advanced glycation end products and diabetic complications.

During long standing hyperglycaemic state in diabetes mellitus, glucose forms covalent adducts with the plasma proteins through a non-enzymatic process known as glycation. Protein glycation and formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) play an important role in the pathogenesis of diabetic complications like retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy, cardiomyopathy along with some other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis and aging. Glycation of proteins interferes with their normal functions by disrupting molecular conformation, altering enzymatic activity, and interfering with receptor functioning. AGEs form intra- and extracellular cross linking not only with proteins, but with some other endogenous key molecules including lipids and nucleic acids to contribute in the development of diabetic complications. Recent studies suggest that AGEs interact with plasma membrane localized receptors for AGEs (RAGE) to alter intracellular signaling, gene expression, release of pro-inflammatory molecules and free radicals. The present review discusses the glycation of plasma proteins such as albumin, fibrinogen, globulins and collagen to form different types of AGEs. Furthermore, the role of AGEs in the pathogenesis of diabetic complications including retinopathy, cataract, neuropathy, nephropathy and cardiomyopathy is also discussed.

Korean J Physiol Pharmacol. 2014 Feb;18(1):1-14.

The effect of a topical antioxidant formulation including N-acetyl carnosine on canine cataract: a preliminary study.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the efficacy of a topical antioxidant formulation including N-acetyl carnosine in the treatment of canine cataract in a preliminary nonplacebo, controlled, unmasked study. ANIMALS STUDIED: Thirty dogs of varying breeds and ages with a spectrum of lens opacities ranging from nuclear sclerosis to total mature cataract. METHODS: Dogs were treated three times daily with topical 2% N-acetyl carnosine in a buffered vehicle containing the antioxidants glutathione, cysteine ascorbate, L-taurine and riboflavin (Ocluvet, Practivet, Phoenix, AZ, USA). Dogs were examined prior to treatment and at 2, 4 and 8 weeks during treatment, by direct and indirect ophthalmoscopy and slit-lamp biomicroscopy after pharmacologic pupil dilation. Photographic documentation of lens opacity was achieved by retroillumination photography, with three photographs taken at each examination time-point. A lens opacification index (LOI), determined by integration of the grayscale level of each pixel across the image, was evaluated by computerized image analysis of digitized images. Alteration in mean LOI was determined for each animal, having normalized the initial LOI. RESULTS: Fifty-eight eyes of 30 dogs were evaluated, 22 with mature cataract, 13 with immature cataract, 9 with cataract associated with other intraocular disease such as uveitis and 14 with nuclear sclerosis alone. One dog was unilaterally anophthalmic after previous enucleation and one had a phthytic eye after previous uveitis-induced glaucoma. Image analysis showed a reduction in mean LOI in all cataract groups (mean resolution in opacity of 2.3 +/- 0.33% for all cataracts), although this was only statistically significant in those eyes with immature cataract (mean resolution of opacity 4.5 +/- 0.33%) or nuclear sclerosis (mean decrease in opacity 5 +/- 0.37%). Reduction in lens opacity was seen in eyes with mature cataract (0.5 +/- 0.4%) and in miscellaneous cataract associated with intraocular inflammation (1.3 +/- 0.4%), but these changes were not statistically significant. Owner evaluation of visual capability, however, suggested improvement in vision in 80% of cases by the end of the study. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates some marginal reduction in lens opacification in a substantial number of cases of canine cataract with the use of a topical nutritional antioxidant formulation including N-acetyl carnosine. Lens opacification was improved with treatment in eyes with immature cataract or nuclear sclerosis while in eyes with mature cataract or cataract with associated intraocular inflammatory pathology less reduction was seen.

Vet Ophthalmol. 2006 Sep-Oct;9(5):311-6.

Effect of carnosine, aminoguanidine, and aspirin drops on the prevention of cataracts in diabetic rats.

PURPOSE: To investigate the effect of carnosine (CA), aminoguanidine (AG), and aspirin (ASA) drops, all inhibitors of glycation, on the development of diabetic cataract in rat. METHODS: Rats were made diabetic with streptozotocin, and based on the level of plasma glucose, they were assigned as non-diabetic rats (<14 mmol/l plasma glucose) and diabetic rats (>14 mmol/l plasma glucose). Animals in the treated groups received CA, AG, and ASA as drops to the left eyes starting from the day of streptozotocin injection. Progression of lens opacification was recorded using the slit lamp at regular time intervals. All the rats were killed after the week 13, and the levels of advanced glycation end products (AGE), glutathione reductase (GR), catalase (CAT), and glutathione (GSH) were determined. RESULTS: Lens opacification progressed in a biphasic manner in the diabetic rats, an initial slow increase during the first eight weeks of diabetes followed by a steep increase in the next five weeks. Carnosine treatment delayed the progression of cataracts in diabetic rats, and the delay was statistically significant on the fourth week of diabetes (p<0.05, when compared with untreated moderately diabetic rats). A decrease in the antioxidant enzymes of CAT and the level of GSH was found in the lens of the untreated diabetic rats at 13 weeks after injection. Some protection was provided in the treated eyes. The level of glycation in the untreated diabetic rats was significantly higher than that in the normal rats (p<0.001). After treatment with CA, AG, and ASA, those diabetic rats had a lower level of glycated lens protein compared to the untreated diabetic rats (p<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: These results thus suggest that the effect of CA, AG, and ASA is indeed inhibition of the formation of AGEs. However, the effect of CA, AG, and ASA is overwhelmed by the excessive accumulation of AGEs in the severely diabetic rats. CA compared with AG and ASA treatment can delay the progression of lens opacification in the diabetic rats only during the earlier stages. It also protects against the inactivation of enzymes.

Mol Vis. 2008;14:2282-91. Epub 2008 Dec 11.

The hallmarks of aging.

Aging is characterized by a progressive loss of physiological integrity, leading to impaired function and increased vulnerability to death. This deterioration is the primary risk factor for major human pathologies, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases. Aging research has experienced an unprecedented advance over recent years, particularly with the discovery that the rate of aging is controlled, at least to some extent, by genetic pathways and biochemical processes conserved in evolution. This Review enumerates nine tentative hallmarks that represent common denominators of aging in different organisms, with special emphasis on mammalian aging. These hallmarks are: genomic instability, telomere attrition, epigenetic alterations, loss of proteostasis, deregulated nutrient sensing, mitochondrial dysfunction, cellular senescence, stem cell exhaustion, and altered intercellular communication. A major challenge is to dissect the interconnectedness between the candidate hallmarks and their relative contributions to aging, with the final goal of identifying pharmaceutical targets to improve human health during aging, with minimal side effects.

Cell. 2013 Jun 6;153(6):1194-217.

Role of fructose concentration on cataractogenesis in senile diabetic and non-diabetic patients.

BACKGROUND: Fructose intake has increased steadily during the past 2 decades. Fructose, like other reducing sugar, can react with proteins, which may account for aging and cataract formation. Fructose participates in glycation (fructation) and advanced glycation endproducts (AGE) formation some ten times faster than glucose. This study aims to determine the fructose concentration and correlate with antioxidant status in senile diabetic and non-diabetic cataract patients. METHODS: The study included 124 subjects. Of them, 31 were normal senile subjects, 33 were senile diabetic patients without cataract, 30 were senile diabetic patients with cataract, and 30 were senile non-diabetic patients with cataract. The patients were selected on clinical grounds from Eye Ward, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Karachi, Pakistan. RESULTS: Serum fructose was significantly increased (P < 0.001) in senile diabetic patients with and without cataract and senile non-diabetic patients with cataract as compared with senile control subjects. Negative significant correlation was observed between serum fructose and serum total antioxidant status in diabetic and non-diabetic patients with cataract. Positive significant correlation was observed between serum fructose and s-AGEs in diabetic and non-diabetic patients with cataract. Serum total antioxidant status was found to be significantly decreased (P < 0.001) in senile diabetic patients with and without cataract and senile non-diabetic patients with cataract as compared with senile control subjects. Fasting blood glucose, HbA(1C) and serum fructosamine were significantly increased (P < 0.001) in senile diabetic patients with or without cataract as compared with senile non-diabetic patients with cataract and senile control subjects. CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate that the increased fructose concentration which induces oxidative stress in diabetic and non-diabetic patients with cataract may be a predictor for cataractogenesis.

Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2009 Jun;247(6):809-14.

Advanced glycation end products in senile diabetic and nondiabetic patients with cataract.

BACKGROUND: Advanced glycation end products (AGE) have been reported to contribute to aging and cataract formation in the lens. In the present study, AGE immunoreactivity in human serum samples of normal senile subjects (n=31), senile diabetic patients without cataract (n=33), senile diabetic patients with cataract (n=30), senile nondiabetic with cataract (n=30), and normal young subjects (n=31) was investigated. METHODS: A noncompetitive ELISA with polyclonal anti-AGE antibody was performed. The patients were selected on clinical grounds from Eye Ward, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Karachi, Pakistan. RESULTS: Fasting blood glucose, glycosylated hemoglobin, and serum fructosamine were estimated. Fasting blood glucose, HbA(1C), and serum fructosamine levels were significantly (P<.001) increased in senile diabetic patients with and without cataract as compared to nondiabetic senile patients with cataract and senile control subjects. However, the serum AGEs were found to be significantly (P<.001) increased in senile diabetic patients with cataract and senile nondiabetic patients with cataract followed by the diabetic patients without cataract as compared to senile control and young control subjects. In contrast to all four senile groups, the serum AGEs were significantly (P<.001) lower in young control subjects. CONCLUSIONS: The AGE distribution in the senile groups corroborates the hypothesis that the advanced glycation process might have a role in cataract formation, which in diabetic patients occurs vigorously as compared with nondiabetic cataract patients.

J Diabetes Complications. 2009 Sep-Oct;23(5):343-8.

Advanced glycation end products in diabetic and non-diabetic human subjects suffering from cataract.

Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) play a pivotal role in loss of lens transparency, i.e., cataract. AGEs formation occurs as a result of sequential glycation and oxidation reaction between reducing sugars and protein. AGEs production takes place throughout the normal aging process but its accumulation is found to be more rapid in diabetic patients. In this study, we quantified AGEs and N-(carboxyethyl) lysine (CEL) in human cataractous lenses from non-diabetic (n=50) and diabetic patients (n=50) using ELISA. We observed significantly higher (p<0.001) levels of lens AGEs and CEL in diabetic patients with cataract as compared with their respective controls. The presence of AGEs and CEL was also determined by western blotting and immuno-histochemical analysis. Furthermore, isolated b-crystallin from cataractous lenses of non-diabetic and diabetic patients was incubated with different sugars to evaluate the extent of glycation in a time dependent manner. Our data indicated more pronounced glycation in patients suffering from diabetes as compared to non-diabetics subjects demonstrating the need to focus on developing normoglycemic approaches. Such studies may provide an insight in developing therapeutic strategies and may have clinical implications.

Age (Dordr). 2011 Sep;33(3):377-84.

Glycation of cataractous lens in non-diabetic senile subjects and in diabetic patients.

Early- and advanced-stage products in the Maillard reaction, glycation, were measured in patients with diabetic or senile cataracts. Early-stage products were measured by means of furosine, which is an acid-hydrolysis product derived from fructose-lysine. Advanced-stage products were measured by fluorometry using high-performance liquid chromatography. Furosine levels were high (listed in descending order) in capsule, cortex and nucleus in both diabetic and senile cataracts. The advanced-stage products were also high (listed in descending order) in nucleus, cortex and capsule in both diabetic and senile cataracts. These results suggest that advanced-stage products might accumulate in larger amounts in the nucleus and cortex than in the capsule, resulting in the formation of cataracts. The study also revealed that the Maillard reaction plays an important role in causing not only diabetic cataracts but also senile cataracts.

Exp Eye Res. 1988 Mar;46(3):415-20.

Role of glycation in human lens protein structure change.

PURPOSE: Protein glycation may be involved in cataract development, by altering protein structure, particularly amino acid composition, and formation of fluorophores through a Maillard reaction. This study was designed to evaluate major changes in early and advanced (fluorescent) glycation products, with special emphasis on glycation-induced changes in amino acid composition of lens proteins. METHODS: We analyzed 50 human cataractous lenses (25 diabetic and 25 non-diabetic). Glycated proteins were isolated by affinity chromatography. Glycated and non-glycated proteins were separated by molecular sieve chromatography and further analyzed by RP-HPLC to establish the amino acid content. Early glycation levels were determined as furosine content and advanced glycation products were quantified by the characteristic fluorescence. RESULTS: Specific lens fractions (HMW and LMW) present significant differences in fluorescence levels between glycated and non-glycated proteins, specially in cataractous lenses from diabetic patients in which all proteins analyzed presented higher glycation levels than in non-diabetic patients. The amino and analysis of glycated proteins also revealed some important differences in specific basic residues (namely Lys, Arg and His) compared to the non-glycated fraction. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that protein glycation may be involved in changes in amino acid composition and fluorophore formation. This process may well account for the increased risk factor that diabetes represents for cataract development.

Eur J Ophthalmol. 1996 Apr-Jun;6(2):155-61.

Exercise interventions in polypathological aging patients that coexist with diabetes mellitus: improving functional status and quality of life.

In elderly populations, diabetes is associated with reduced muscle strength, poor muscle quality, and accelerated loss of muscle mass. In addition, diabetes mellitus increases risk for accelerated aging and for the development of frailty syndrome. This disease is also associated with a polypathological condition, and its complications progressively affect quality of life and survival. Exercise interventions, including resistance training, represent the cornerstones of diabetes management, especially in patients at severe functional decline. This review manuscript aimed to describe the beneficial effects of different exercise interventions on the functional capacity of elderly diabetics, including those at polypathological condition. The SciELO, Science Citation Index, MEDLINE, Scopus, SPORTDiscus, and ScienceDirect databases were searched from 1980 to 2015 for articles published from original scientific investigations. In addition to the beneficial effects of exercise interventions on glycemic control, and on the cardiovascular risk factors associated with diabetes, physical exercise is an effective intervention to improve muscle strength, power output, and aerobic power and functional capacity in elderly diabetic patients. Thus, a combination of resistance and endurance training is the most effective exercise intervention to promote overall physical fitness in these patients. In addition, in diabetic patients with frailty and severe functional decline, a multicomponent exercise program including strength and power training, balance exercises, and gait retraining may be an effective intervention to reduce falls and improve functional capacity and quality of life in these patients.

Age (Dordr). 2015 Jun;37(3):64.


Supplemental ubiquinol in patients with advanced congestive heart failure.

Patients with CHF, NYHA class IV, often fail to achieve adequate plasma CoQ10 levels on supplemental ubiquinone at dosages up to 900 mg/day. These patients often have plasma total CoQ10 levels of less than 2.5 microg/ml and have limited clinical improvement. It is postulated that the intestinal edema in these critically ill patients may impair CoQ10 absorption. We identified seven patients with advanced CHF (mean EF 22%) with sub-therapeutic plasma CoQ10 levels with mean level of 1.6 microg/ml on an average dose of 450 mg of ubiquinone daily (150-600 mg/day). All seven of these patients were changed to an average of 580 mg/day of ubiquinol (450-900 mg/day) with follow-up plasma CoQ10 levels, clinical status, and EF measurements by echocardiography. Mean plasma CoQ10 levels increased from 1.6 microg/ml (0.9-2.0 microg/ml) up to 6.5 microg/ml (2.6-9.3 microg/ml). Mean EF improved from 22% (10-35%) up to 39% (10-60%) and clinical improvement has been remarkable with NYHA class improving from a mean of IV to a mean of II (I to III). Ubiquinol has dramatically improved absorption in patients with severe heart failure and the improvement in plasma CoQ10 levels is correlated with both clinical improvement and improvement in measurement of left ventricular function.

Biofactors. 2008;32(1-4):119-28.

Comparison study of plasma coenzyme Q10 levels in healthy subjects supplemented with ubiquinol versus ubiquinone.

The bioavailability of the reduced form of coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinol) was compared to oxidized coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) with identical soft gel capsule excipients by measuring steady state plasma coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10 ) levels in 12 healthy volunteers. After baseline levels of ubiquinol, ubiquinone, total CoQ10 , α-tocopherol, and total cholesterol were obtained, follow-up lab work was performed after 4 weeks of 200 mg/day of ubiquinone, after 4 weeks washout, and after 4 weeks of 200 mg/day of ubiquinol. Plasma total CoQ10 increased from 0.9 to 2.5 µg/mL (P < 0.001) after 4 weeks of ubiquinone and increased from 0.9 to 4.3 µg/mL (P < 0.001) after 4 weeks of ubiquinol. Total CoQ10 /cholesterol ratio increased from 0.2 to 0.7 µmol/mmol after 4 weeks of ubiquinone and increased from 0.2 to 1.2 µmol/mmol after 4 weeks of ubiquinol. Both the increase in plasma CoQ10 and the increase in CoQ10 /cholesterol ratio were significantly better after ubiquinol (P < 0.005 and P < 0.001, respectively) than after ubiquinone indicating superior bioavailability. Plasma ubiquinol/total CoQ10 ratio increased from baseline during ubiquinol supplementation (P < 0.005) and remained unchanged after ubiquinone supplementation. No side effects were noted in this study.

Clin Pharmacol Drug Dev. 2014 Jan;3(1):13-7.

Coenzyme Q10: an independent predictor of mortality in chronic heart failure.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between plasma coenzyme Q(10) (CoQ(10)) and survival in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF). BACKGROUND: Patients with CHF have low plasma concentrations of CoQ(10), an essential cofactor for mitochondrial electron transport and myocardial energy supply. Additionally, low plasma total cholesterol (TC) concentrations have been associated with higher mortality in heart failure. Plasma CoQ(10) is closely associated with low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), which might contribute to this association. Therefore we tested the hypothesis that plasma CoQ(10) is a predictor of total mortality in CHF and could explain this association. METHODS: Plasma samples from 236 patients admitted to the hospital with CHF, with a median (range) duration of follow-up of 2.69 (0.12 to 5.75) years, were assayed for LDL-C, TC, and total CoQ(10). RESULTS: Median age at admission was 77 years. Median (range) CoQ(10) concentration was 0.68 (0.18 to 1.75) micromol/l. The optimal CoQ(10) concentration for prediction of mortality (established with receiver-operator characteristic [ROC] curves) was 0.73 micromol/l. Multivariable analysis allowing for effects of standard predictors of survival--including age at admission, gender, previous myocardial infarction, N-terminal peptide of B-type natriuretic peptide, and estimated glomerular filtration rate (modification of diet in renal disease)--indicated CoQ(10) was an independent predictor of survival, whether dichotomized at the ROC curve cut-point (hazard ratio [HR]: 2.0; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.2 to 3.3) or the median (HR: 1.6; 95% CI: 1.0 to 2.6). CONCLUSIONS: Plasma CoQ(10) concentration was an independent predictor of mortality in this cohort. The CoQ(10) deficiency might be detrimental to the long-term prognosis of CHF, and there is a rationale for controlled intervention studies with CoQ(10).

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2008 Oct 28;52(18):1435-41.

Coenzyme Q10 - A new player in the treatment of heart failure?

Coenzyme Q10 is the only endogenously synthesized lipid with a redox function which exhibits broad tissue and intracellular distribution in mammals. Beneficial effects of Coenzyme Q10 supplementation were observed in several age-related diseases including heart failure. CoQ10 (coenzyme Q10) level is significantly decreased in patients with this disease, which correlates with severity of clinical symptoms. Supplementation with various pharmaceutical formulations of CoQ10 improves impaired cardiac function and clinical course of heart failure. Current data from clinical trials indicate that CoQ10 can significantly reduce morbidity and mortality of heart failure patients in addition to guideline recommended pharmacotherapy.

Pharmacol Rep. 2016 Oct;68(5):1015-9.

Atrial fibrillation in congestive heart failure.

Atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure are morbid conditions that have common risk factors and frequently coexist. Each condition predisposes to the other, and the concomitant presence of the two identifies individuals at increased risk for mortality. Recent data have emerged that help elucidate the complex genetic and nongenetic pathophysiological mechanisms that contribute to the development of atrial fibrillation in individuals with congestive heart failure. Clinical trial results offer insights into the noninvasive prevention and management of these conditions, although newer technologies, such as catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation, have yet to be studied extensively in patients with congestive heart failure.

Heart Fail Clin. 2010 Apr;6(2):187-200.

The effect of coenzyme Q10 on morbidity and mortality in chronic heart failure: results from Q-SYMBIO: a randomized double-blind trial.

OBJECTIVES: This randomized controlled multicenter trial evaluated coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) as adjunctive treatment in chronic heart failure (HF). BACKGROUND: CoQ10 is an essential cofactor for energy production and is also a powerful antioxidant. A low level of myocardial CoQ10 is related to the severity of HF. Previous randomized controlled trials of CoQ10 in HF were underpowered to address major clinical endpoints. METHODS: Patients with moderate to severe HF were randomly assigned in a 2-year prospective trial to either CoQ10 100 mg 3 times daily or placebo, in addition to standard therapy. The primary short-term endpoints at 16 weeks were changes in New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional classification, 6-min walk test, and levels of N-terminal pro-B type natriuretic peptide. The primary long-term endpoint at 2 years was composite major adverse cardiovascular events as determined by a time to first event analysis. RESULTS: A total of 420 patients were enrolled. There were no significant changes in short-term endpoints. The primary long-term endpoint was reached by 15% of the patients in the CoQ10 group versus 26% in the placebo group (hazard ratio: 0.50; 95% confidence interval: 0.32 to 0.80; p = 0.003) by intention-to-treat analysis. The following secondary endpoints were significantly lower in the CoQ10 group compared with the placebo group: cardiovascular mortality (9% vs. 16%, p = 0.026), all-cause mortality (10% vs. 18%, p = 0.018), and incidence of hospital stays for HF (p = 0.033). In addition, a significant improvement of NYHA class was found in the CoQ10 group after 2 years (p = 0.028). CONCLUSIONS: Long-term CoQ10 treatment of patients with chronic HF is safe, improves symptoms, and reduces major adverse cardiovascular events. (Coenzyme Q10 as adjunctive treatment of chronic heart failure: a randomised, double-blind, multicentre trial with focus on SYMptoms, BIomarker status [Brain-Natriuretic Peptide (BNP)], and long-term Outcome [hospitalisations/mortality]; ISRCTN94506234).

JACC Heart Fail. 2014 Dec;2(6):641-9.


A clinician’s primer on the role of the microbiome in human health and disease.

The importance of the commensal microbiota that colonizes the skin, gut, and mucosal surfaces of the human body is being increasingly recognized through a rapidly expanding body of science studying the human microbiome. Although, at first glance, these discoveries may seem esoteric, the clinical implications of the microbiome in human health and disease are becoming clear. As such, it will soon be important for practicing clinicians to have an understanding of the basic concepts of the human microbiome and its relation to human health and disease. In this Concise Review, we provide a brief introduction to clinicians of the concepts underlying this burgeoning scientific field and briefly explore specific disease states for which the potential role of the human microbiome is becoming increasingly evident, including Clostridium difficile infection, inflammatory bowel disease, colonization with multidrug-resistant organisms, obesity, allergic diseases, autoimmune diseases, and neuropsychiatric illnesses, and we also discuss current and future roles of microbiome restorative therapies.

Mayo Clin Proc. 2014 Jan;89(1):107-14.

Microbiome, HPA axis and production of endocrine hormones in the gut.

Recent accumulating evidence indicates that the gut microbiome can affect the development and regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and behavior, with central integrative systems being crucial in the successful physiological adaptation of the organism to external stressor. In contrast, host-derived hormones increase the bacterial proliferative capacity and pathogenicity. In the gut lumen, this type of cross-talk between microorganisms and the host is presumed to be performed continually through various kinds of luminal molecules, as numerous types of bacteria and host cells are in close proximity in the gastrointestinal tract of mammals.We herein focus on bidirectional signaling between the gut microbiome and the host in terms of commensal microbiota affecting the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal HPA axis response and behaviors and further discuss the role of gut luminal catecholamines and g-aminobutyric acid, both of which are presumed to be involved in this signaling.

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014;817:177-94.

Microbiome and metabolic disease: revisiting the bacterial phylum Bacteroidetes.

Bacterial species composition in the gut has emerged as an important factor in obesity and its related metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Out of thousands of bacterial species-level phylotypes inhabiting the human gut, the majority belong to two dominant phyla, the Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. Members of the Bacteroidetes in particular have been associated with human metabolic diseases. However, their associations with disease are not always consistent between studies. Delving deeper into the diversity within the Bacteroidetes reveals a vast diversity in genomes and capacities, which partly explain how not all members respond equally to similar environmental conditions in their hosts. Here, we discuss the Bacteroidetes phylum, associations of its members with metabolic phenotypes, and efforts to characterize functionally their interactions with their hosts. Harnessing the Bacteroidetes to promote metabolic health will require a nuanced understanding of how specific strains interact with their microbial neighbors and their hosts under various conditions.

J Mol Med (Berl). 2017 Jan;95(1):1-8.

Does our gut microbiome predict cardiovascular risk? A review of the evidence from metabolomics.

Millions of microbes are found in the human gut, and are collectively referred as the gut microbiota. Recent studies have estimated that the microbiota genome contains 100-fold more genes than the host genome. These microbiota contribute to digestion by processing energy substrates unutilized by the host, with about half of the total genome of the gut microbiota being related to central carbon and amino acid metabolism as well as the biosynthesis of secondary metabolites. Therefore, the gut microbiome and its interaction with the host influences many aspects of health and disease, including the composition of biofluids such as urine and blood plasma. Metabolomics is uniquely suited to capture these functional host-microbe interactions. This review aims at providing an overview of recent metabolomics evidence of gut microbiota-host metabolic interactions with a specific focus on cardiovascular disease and related aspects of the metabolic syndrome. Furthermore, the emphasis is given on the complexities of translating these metabolite signatures as potential clinical biomarkers, as the composition and activity of gut microbiome change with many factors, particularly with diet, with special reference to trimethylamine-oxide.

Circ Cardiovasc Genet. 2015 Feb;8(1):187-91.

Ageing and gut microbes: perspectives for health maintenance and longevity.

The ageing process affects the human gut microbiota phylogenetic composition and its interaction with the immune system. Age-related gut microbiota modifications are associated with immunosenescence and inflamm-ageing in a sort of self-sustaining loop, which allows the placement of gut microbiota unbalances among both the causes and the effects of the inflamm-ageing process. Even if, up to now, the link between gut microbiota and the ageing process is only partially understood, the gut ecosystem shows the potential to become a promising target for strategies able to contribute to the health status of older people. In this context, the consumption of pro/prebiotics may be useful in both prevention and treatment of age-related pathophysiological conditions, such as recovery and promotion of immune functions, i.e. adjuvant effect for influenza vaccine, and prevention and/or alleviation of common “winter diseases”, as well as constipation and Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhoea. Moreover, being involved in different mechanisms which concur in counteracting inflammation, such as down-regulation of inflammation-associated genes and improvement of colonic mucosa conditions, probiotics have the potentiality to be involved in the promotion of longevity.

Pharmacol Res. 2013 Mar;69(1):11-20

Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits.

The health benefits of dietary fiber have long been appreciated. Higher intakes of dietary fiber are linked to less cardiovascular disease and fiber plays a role in gut health, with many effective laxatives actually isolated fiber sources. Higher intakes of fiber are linked to lower body weights. Only polysaccharides were included in dietary fiber originally, but more recent definitions have included oligosaccharides as dietary fiber, not based on their chemical measurement as dietary fiber by the accepted total dietary fiber (TDF) method, but on their physiological effects. Inulin, fructo-oligosaccharides, and other oligosaccharides are included as fiber in food labels in the US. Additionally, oligosaccharides are the best known “prebiotics”, “a selectively fermented ingredient that allows specific changes, both in the composition and/or activity in the gastrointestinal microflora that confers benefits upon host well-bring and health.” To date, all known and suspected prebiotics are carbohydrate compounds, primarily oligosaccharides, known to resist digestion in the human small intestine and reach the colon where they are fermented by the gut microflora. Studies have provided evidence that inulin and oligofructose (OF), lactulose, and resistant starch (RS) meet all aspects of the definition, including the stimulation of Bifidobacterium, a beneficial bacterial genus. Other isolated carbohydrates and carbohydrate-containing foods, including galactooligosaccharides (GOS), transgalactooligosaccharides (TOS), polydextrose, wheat dextrin, acacia gum, psyllium, banana, whole grain wheat, and whole grain corn also have prebiotic effects.

Nutrients. 2013 Apr 22;5(4):1417-35.

Human and rat gut microbiome composition is maintained following sleep restriction.

Insufficient sleep increasingly characterizes modern society, contributing to a host of serious medical problems. Loss of sleep is associated with metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, and neurological and cognitive impairments. Shifts in gut microbiome composition have also been associated with the same pathologies; therefore, we hypothesized that sleep restriction may perturb the gut microbiome to contribute to a disease state. In this study, we examined the fecal microbiome by using a cross-species approach in both rat and human studies of sleep restriction. We used DNA from hypervariable regions (V1-V2) of 16S bacteria rRNA to define operational taxonomic units (OTUs) of the microbiome. Although the OTU richness of the microbiome is decreased by sleep restriction in rats, major microbial populations are not altered. Only a single OTU, TM7-3a, was found to increase with sleep restriction of rats. In the human microbiome, we find no overt changes in the richness or composition induced by sleep restriction. Together, these results suggest that the microbiome is largely resistant to changes during sleep restriction.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Feb 21;114(8):E1564-E1571.

Impacts of gut bacteria on human health and diseases.

Gut bacteria are an important component of the microbiota ecosystem in the human gut, which is colonized by 1014 microbes, ten times more than the human cells. Gut bacteria play an important role in human health, such as supplying essential nutrients, synthesizing vitamin K, aiding in the digestion of cellulose, and promoting angiogenesis and enteric nerve function. However, they can also be potentially harmful due to the change of their composition when the gut ecosystem undergoes abnormal changes in the light of the use of antibiotics, illness, stress, aging, bad dietary habits, and lifestyle. Dysbiosis of the gut bacteria communities can cause many chronic diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, cancer, and autism. This review summarizes and discusses the roles and potential mechanisms of gut bacteria in human health and diseases.

Int J Mol Sci. 2015 Apr 2;16(4):7493-519.

Prebiotics: why definitions matter.

The prebiotic concept was introduced twenty years ago, and despite several revisions to the original definition, the scientific community has continued to debate what it means to be a prebiotic. How prebiotics are defined is important not only for the scientific community, but also for regulatory agencies, the food industry, consumers and healthcare professionals. Recent developments in community-wide sequencing and glycomics have revealed that more complex interactions occur between putative prebiotic substrates and the gut microbiota than previously considered. A consensus among scientists on the most appropriate definition of a prebiotic is necessary to enable continued use of the term.

Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2016 Feb;37:1-7.

Xylooligosaccharide increases bifidobacteria but not lactobacilli in human gut microbiota.

This study was conducted to determine the tolerance and effects of the prebiotic xylooligosaccharide (XOS) on the composition of human colonic microbiota, pH and short chain fatty acids (SCFA) in order to determine whether significant changes in the microbiota would be achievable without side effects. Healthy adult subjects (n = 32) were recruited in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Subjects received 1.4 g XOS, 2.8 g XOS or placebo in daily doses. The study consisted of a 2 week run-in, an 8 week intervention, and a 2 week washout phase. Stool samples were collected at baseline, after 4 and 8 weeks of intervention and 2 weeks after cessation of intervention. Samples were subjected to culture, pyrosequencing of community DNA, pH and SCFA analyses. Tolerance was evaluated by daily symptom charts. XOS was tolerated without significant gastrointestinal side effects. Bifidobacterium counts increased in both XOS groups compared to the placebo subjects, the 2.8 g per day group showed significantly greater increases than the 1.4 g per day group. Total anaerobic counts and Bacteroides fragilis group counts were significantly higher in the 2.8 g per day XOS group. There were no significant differences in the counts of Lactobacillus, Enterobacteriaceae and Clostridium between the three groups. XOS intervention had no significant effect on stool pH, SCFA or lactic acid. Pyrosequencing showed no notable shifts in bacterial diversity. XOS supplementation may be beneficial to gastrointestinal microbiota and 2.8 g per day may be more effective than 1.4 g per day. The low dose required and lack of gastrointestinal side effects makes the use of XOS as a food supplement feasible.

Food Funct. 2014 Mar;5(3):436-45.

Olive oil

High adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with cardiovascular protection in higher but not in lower socioeconomic groups: prospective findings from the Moli-sani study.

Background: It is uncertain whether the cardiovascular benefits associated with Mediterranean diet (MD) may differ across socioeconomic groups. Methods: Prospective analysis on 18991 men and women aged ≥35 years from the general population of the Moli-sani cohort (Italy). Adherence to MD was appraised by the Mediterranean diet score (MDS). Household income (euros/year) and educational level were used as indicators of socioeconomic status. Hazard ratios (HR) were calculated by multivariable Cox proportional hazard models. Results: Over 4.3 years of follow-up, 252 cardiovascular disease (CVD) events occurred. Overall, a two-point increase in MDS was associated with 15% reduced CVD risk (95% confidence interval: 1% to 27%). Such association was evident in highly (HR = 0.43; 0.25-0.72) but not in less (HR = 0.94; 0.78-1.14) educated subjects (P for interaction = 0.042). Similarly, CVD advantages associated with the MD were confined to the high household income group (HR = 0.39; 0.23-0.66, and HR = 1.01; 0.79-1.29 for high- and low-income groups, respectively; P for interaction = 0.0098). In a subgroup of individuals of different socioeconomic status but sharing similar MDS, diet-related disparities were found as different intakes of antioxidants and polyphenols, fatty acids, micronutrients, dietary antioxidant capacity, dietary diversity, organic vegetables and whole grain bread consumption. Conclusions: MD is associated with lower CVD risk but this relationship is confined to higher socioeconomic groups. In groups sharing similar scores of adherence to MD, diet-related disparities across socioeconomic groups persisted. These nutritional gaps may reasonably explain at least in part the socioeconomic pattern of CVD protection from the MD.

Int J Epidemiol. 2017 Oct 1;46(5):1478-1487.

Olive oil intake and CHD in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Spanish cohort.

Olive oil is well known for its cardioprotective properties; however, epidemiological data showing that olive oil consumption reduces incident CHD events are still limited. Therefore, we studied the association between olive oil and CHD in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Spanish cohort study. The analysis included 40 142 participants (38 % male), free of CHD events at baseline, recruited from five EPIC-Spain centres from 1992 to 1996 and followed up until 2004. Baseline dietary and lifestyle information was collected using interview-administered questionnaires. Cox proportional regression models were used to assess the relationship between validated incident CHD events and olive oil intake (energy-adjusted quartiles and each 10 g/d per 8,368 kJ (2000 kcal) increment), while adjusting for potential confounders. During a 10·4-year follow-up, 587 (79 % male) CHD events were recorded. Olive oil intake was negatively associated with CHD risk after excluding dietary mis-reporters (hazard ratio (HR) 0·93; 95 % CI 0·87, 1·00 for each 10 g/d per 8,368 kJ (2,000 kcal) and HR 0·78; 95 % CI 0·59, 1·03 for upper v. lower quartile). The inverse association between olive oil intake (per 10 g/d per 8368 kJ (2,000 kcal)) and CHD was more pronounced in never smokers (11 % reduced CHD risk (P = 0·048)), in never/low alcohol drinkers (25 % reduced CHD risk (P < 0·001)) and in virgin olive oil consumers (14 % reduced CHD risk (P = 0·072)). In conclusion, olive oil consumption was related to a reduced risk of incident CHD events. This emphasises the need to conserve the traditional culinary use of olive oil within the Mediterranean diet to reduce the CHD burden.

Br J Nutr. 2012 Dec 14;108(11):2075-82.

Nutraceutical Properties of Olive Oil Polyphenols. An Itinerary from Cultured Cells through Animal Models to Humans.

The increasing interest in the Mediterranean diet hinges on its healthy and anti-ageing properties. The composition of fatty acids, vitamins and polyphenols in olive oil, a key component of this diet, is considered a key feature of its healthy properties. Therefore, it is of significance that the Rod of Asclepius lying on a world map surrounded by olive tree branches has been chosen by the World Health Organization as a symbol of both peace and well-being. This review travels through most of the current and past research, recapitulating the biochemical and physiological correlations of the beneficial properties of olive tree (Olea europaea) polyphenols and their derivatives found in olive oil. The factors influencing the content and beneficial properties of olive oil polyphenols will also be taken into account together with their bioavailability. Finally, the data on the clinical and epidemiological relevance of olive oil and its polyphenols for longevity and against age- and lifestyle-associated pathologies such as cancer, cardiovascular, metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases are reviewed.

Int J Mol Sci. 2016 May 31;17(6).

Phenolic compounds and squalene in olive oils: the concentration and antioxidant potential of total phenols, simple phenols, secoiridoids, lignansand squalene.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the phenolic antioxidant and squalene content in a range of olive and seed oils. A mean of 290 +/- 38 (SEM) mg squalene/100 g was detected. However, while there was a weak significant difference between extra virgin (424 +/- 21 mg/kg) and refined virgin (340 +/- 31 mg/100 g; P<0.05) olive oils, highly significant differences were evident between extra virgin olive oils (P<0.0001) refined virgin olive oils (P<0.0001) and seed oils (24 +/- 5 mg/100 g). While seed oils were devoid, on average, the olive oils contained 196 +/- 19 mg/kg total phenolics as judged by HPLC analysis, but the value for extra virgin (232 +/- 15 mg/kg) was significantly higher than that of refined virgin olive oil (62 +/- 12 mg/kg; P<0.0001). Appreciable quantities of simple phenols (hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol) were detected in olive oils, with significant differences between extravirgin (41.87 +/- 6.17) and refined virgin olive oils (4.72 +/- 215; P<0.01). The major linked phenols were secoiridoids and lignans. Although extra virgin contained higher concentrations of secoiridoids (27.72 +/- 6.84) than refined olive oils (9.30 +/- 3.81) this difference was not significant. On the other hand, the concentration of lignans was significantly higher (P<0.001) in extra virgin (41.53 +/- 3.93) compared to refined virgin olive oils (7.29 +/- 2.56). All classes of phenolics were shown to be potent antioxidants. In future epidemiologic studies, both the nature and source of olive oil consumed should be differentiated in ascertaining cancer risk.

Food Chem Toxicol. 2000 Aug;38(8):647-59.

Nutraceutical properties of extra-virgin olive oil: a natural remedy for age-related disease?

The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet can be largely ascribed to the nutraceutical properties of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO). Mono-unsaturated fatty acids and various phenolic compounds, such as oleocanthal, oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, and tyrosol, are the main nutraceutical substances of EVOO. These substances have been suggested to have the ability to modulate aging-associated processes. In experimental models, it has been shown that EVOO with high concentrations of polyphenols has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Indeed, it was observed that hydroxytyrosol and oleocanthal inhibit the cyclooxygenases (COX-1 and -2) responsible for prostaglandin production; oleuropein is a radical scavenger that blocks the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins. Due to the relevance of olive oil in the economy of Sicily, our group has been funded to assess the nutraceutical properties of different kinds of olive oil. Indeed, the aim of the study is to evaluate effects of EVOOs, with low and high polyphenols content, on immuno-inflammatory and oxidative stress responses in young and old people. A further objective of our group is to evaluate effects of EVOO, with low and high polyphenol content, on the expression of genes encoding proteins that take part in the insulin/insulin-like growth factor-1 signaling pathway involved in longevity. The results of the study will be useful for producing olive oil enriched in nutraceutical properties that may be likely helpful in the prevention of age-related diseases.

Rejuvenation Res. 2014 Apr;17(2):217-20.

The Association between the Mediterranean Dietary Pattern and Cognitive Health: A Systematic Review.

The ageing population is accompanied by increased rates of cognitive decline and dementia. Not only does cognitive decline have a profound impact on an individual’s health and quality of life, but also on that of their caregivers. The Mediterranean diet (MD) has been known to aid in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes. It has been recently linked to better cognitive function in the elderly population. The purpose of this review was to compile evidence based data that examined the effect of adherence to the MD on cognitive function and the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. This review followed PRISMA guidelines and was conducted using four databases and resulted in 31 articles of interest. Cross-sectional studies and cohort studies in the non-Mediterranean region showed mixed results. However, cohort studies in the Mediterranean region and randomized controlled trials showed more cohesive outcomes of the beneficial effect of the MD on cognitive function. Although more standardized and in-depth studies are needed to strengthen the existing body of evidence, results from this review indicate that the Mediterranean diet could play a major role in cognitive health and risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Nutrients. 2017 Jun 28;9(7). pii: E674.

Amyloid-β and tau: the trigger and bullet in Alzheimer disease pathogenesis.

The defining features of Alzheimer disease (AD) include conspicuous changes in both brain histology and behavior. The AD brain is characterized microscopically by the combined presence of 2 classes of abnormal structures, extracellular amyloid plaques and intraneuronal neurofibrillary tangles, both of which comprise highly insoluble, densely packed filaments. The soluble building blocks of these structures are amyloid-b (Ab) peptides for plaques and tau for tangles. Amyloid-b peptides are proteolytic fragments of the transmembrane amyloid precursor protein, whereas tau is a brain-specific, axon-enriched microtubule-associated protein. The behavioral symptoms of AD correlate with the accumulation of plaques and tangles, and they are a direct consequence of the damage and destruction of synapses that mediate memory and cognition. Synapse loss can be caused by the failure of live neurons to maintain functional axons and dendrites or by neuron death. During the past dozen years, a steadily accumulating body of evidence has indicated that soluble forms of Ab and tau work together, independently of their accumulation into plaques and tangles, to drive healthy neurons into the diseased state and that hallmark toxic properties of Ab require tau. For instance, acute neuron death, delayed neuron death following ectopic cell cycle reentry, and synaptic dysfunction are triggered by soluble, extracellular Ab species and depend on soluble, cytoplasmic tau. Therefore, Ab is upstream of tau in AD pathogenesis and triggers the conversion of tau from a normal to a toxic state, but there is also evidence that toxic tau enhances Ab toxicity via a feedback loop. Because soluble toxic aggregates of both Ab and tau can self-propagate and spread throughout the brain by prionlike mechanisms, successful therapeutic intervention for AD would benefit from detecting these species before plaques, tangles, and cognitive impairment become evident and from interfering with the destructive biochemical pathways that they initiate./p>

JAMA Neurol. 2014 Apr;71(4):505-8.

Adherence to Mediterranean diet in relation to bone mineral density and risk of fracture: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies.

PURPOSE: We aimed to systematically review available data on the association between adherence to MD and BMD as well as risk of fractures and to summarize this information through a meta-analysis. METHODS: Previous studies in the field of adherence to MD in relation to BMD and risk of fracture were selected through searching PubMed, Scopus, ISI Web of Science and Google Scholar databases prior to June, 2016 using Mesh and non-Mesh relevant keywords. RESULTS: In the meta-analysis of four effect sizes, obtained from three studies, we found that adherence to MD was associated with a 21% reduced risk of hip fracture (overall RR 0.79; 95% CIs 0.72-0.87). Adherence to MD was positively associated with lumber spine’s (mean difference of BMD comparing highest and lowest categories of MD score 0.12; 95% CI 0.06-0.19 g/cm2), femoral neck (0.10; 0.06-0.15 g/cm2) and total hip (0.11; 0.09-0.14 g/cm2) BMD. Meta-regression of included observational studies revealed a significant inverse linear association between Mediterranean diet score and risk of hip fracture, such that one unit increase in the score of Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduction in the risk of hip fracture (RR 0.95, 95% CI 0.92-0.98 p = 0.01). CONCLUSION: Adherence to MD was associated with a reduced risk of fracture as well as with a higher mean BMD.

Eur J Nutr. 2017 Jun 21.

Epidemiology and outcomes of osteoporotic fractures.

Bone mass declines and the risk of fractures increases as people age, especially as women pass through the menopause. Hip fractures, the most serious outcome of osteoporosis, are becoming more frequent than before because the world’s population is ageing and because the frequency of hip fractures is increasing by 1-3% per year in most areas of the world. Rates of hip fracture vary more widely from region to region than does the prevalence of vertebral fractures. Low bone density and previous fractures are risk factors for almost all types of fracture, but each type of fracture also has its own unique risk factors. Prevention of fractures with drugs could potentially be as expensive as medical treatment of fractures. Therefore, epidemiological research should be done and used to identify individuals at high-risk of disabling fractures, thereby allowing careful allocation of expensive treatments to individuals most in need.

Lancet. 2002 May 18;359(9319):1761-7.