Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Apr 2018

Geroprotect, Benfotiamine, Digestion, and Boron

Geroprotect, Benfotiamine, Digestion, and Boron


Role of the unfolded protein response in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease which affects almost 1 percent of the population above the age of 60. It is is characterized by loss of dopaminergic neurons in the striatum and substantia nigra, coupled with the formation of intracellular Lewy bodies in degenerating neurons. Recent evidence suggests endoplasmic reticulum stress as a common and prominent occurrence in the progression of Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis in the affected human brain. One of the cellular defense mechanism to combat endoplasmic reticulum stress due to excessive protein accumulation is through activation of the unfolded protein response pathway. In this review we focus on the impact and role of this unfolded protein response as a causative factor of Parkinson’s disease leading to neurodegeneration.

Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars). 2015;75(1):1-26.

The ER proteostasis network in ALS: Determining the differential motoneuron vulnerability.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal late-onset neurodegenerative disease characterized by the selective loss of motoneurons. The mechanisms underlying neuronal degeneration in ALS are starting to be elucidated, highlighting abnormal protein aggregation and altered mRNA metabolism as common phenomena. ALS involves the selective vulnerablility of a subpopulation of motoneurons, suggesting that intrinsic factors may determine ALS pathogenesis. Accumulating evidence indicates that alterations to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) proteostasis play a critical role on disease progression, representing one of the earliests pathological signatures of the disease. Here we discuss recent studies uncovering a fundamental role of ER stress as the driver of selective neuronal vulnerability in ALS and discuss the potential of targeting the unfolded protein response (UPR) as a therapeutic strategy to treat ALS.

Neurosci Lett. 2017 Jan 1;636:9-15.

Obesity-Induced Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress Causes Lung Endothelial Dysfunction and Promotes Acute Lung Injury.

Obesity is a significant risk factor for acute respiratory distress syndrome. The mechanisms underlying this association are unknown. We recently showed that diet-induced obese mice exhibit pulmonary vascular endothelial dysfunction, which is associated with enhanced susceptibility to LPS-induced acute lung injury. Here, we demonstrate that lung endothelial dysfunction in diet-induced obese mice coincides with increased endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. Specifically, we observed enhanced expression of the major sensors of misfolded proteins, including protein kinase R-like ER kinase, inositol-requiring enzyme a, and activating transcription factor 6, in whole lung and in primary lung endothelial cells isolated from diet-induced obese mice. Furthermore, we found that primary lung endothelial cells exposed to serum from obese mice, or to saturated fatty acids that mimic obese serum, resulted in enhanced expression of markers of ER stress and the induction of other biological responses that typify the lung endothelium of diet-induced obese mice, including an increase in expression of endothelial adhesion molecules and a decrease in expression of endothelial cell-cell junctional proteins. Similar changes were observed in lung endothelial cells and in whole-lung tissue after exposure to tunicamycin, a compound that causes ER stress by blocking N-linked glycosylation, indicating that ER stress causes endothelial dysfunction in the lung. Treatment with 4-phenylbutyric acid, a chemical protein chaperone that reduces ER stress, restored vascular endothelial cell expression of adhesion molecules and protected against LPS-induced acute lung injury in diet-induced obese mice. Our work indicates that fatty acids in obese serum induce ER stress in the pulmonary endothelium, leading to pulmonary endothelial cell dysfunction. Our work suggests that reducing protein load in the ER of pulmonary endothelial cells might protect against acute respiratory distress syndrome in obese individuals.

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2017 Aug;57(2):204-215.

Adapting proteostasis for disease intervention.

The protein components of eukaryotic cells face acute and chronic challenges to their integrity. Eukaryotic protein homeostasis, or proteostasis, enables healthy cell and organismal development and aging and protects against disease. Here, we describe the proteostasis network, a set of interacting activities that maintain the health of proteome and the organism. Deficiencies in proteostasis lead to many metabolic, oncological, neurodegenerative, and cardiovascular disorders. Small-molecule or biological proteostasis regulators that manipulate the concentration, conformation, quaternary structure, and/or the location of protein(s) have the potential to ameliorate some of the most challenging diseases of our era.

Science. 2008 Feb 15;319(5865):916-9.

Withaferin A Analogs That Target the AAA+ Chaperone p97.

Understanding the mode of action (MOA) of many natural products can be puzzling with mechanistic clues that seem to lack a common thread. One such puzzle lies in the evaluation of the antitumor properties of the natural product withaferin A (WFA). A variety of seemingly unrelated pathways have been identified to explain its activity, suggesting a lack of selectivity. We now show that WFA acts as an inhibitor of the chaperone, p97, both in vitro and in cell models in addition to inhibiting the proteasome in vitro. Through medicinal chemistry, we have refined the activity of WFA toward p97 and away from the proteasome. Subsequent studies indicated that these WFA analogs retained p97 activity and cytostatic activity in cell models, suggesting that the modes of action reported for WFA could be connected by proteostasis modulation. Through this endeavor, we highlight how the parallel integration of medicinal chemistry with chemical biology offers a potent solution to one of natures’ intriguing molecular puzzles.

ACS Chem Biol. 2015 Aug 21;10(8):1916-1924.

Simultaneous inhibition of the ubiquitin-proteasome system and autophagy enhances apoptosis induced by ER stress aggravators in human pancreatic cancer cells.

In contrast to normal tissue, cancer cells display profound alterations in protein synthesis and degradation. Therefore, proteins that regulate endoplasmic reticulum (ER) homeostasis are being increasingly recognized as potential therapeutic targets. The ubiquitin-proteasome system and autophagy are crucially important for proteostasis in cells. However, interactions between autophagy, the proteasome, and ER stress pathways in cancer remain largely undefined. This study demonstrated that withaferin-A (WA), the biologically active withanolide extracted from Withania somnifera, significantly increased autophagosomes, but blocked the degradation of autophagic cargo by inhibiting SNARE-mediated fusion of autophagosomes and lysosomes in human pancreatic cancer (PC) cells. WA specifically induced proteasome inhibition and promoted the accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins, which resulted in ER stress-mediated apoptosis. Meanwhile, the impaired autophagy at early stage induced by WA was likely activated in response to ER stress. Importantly, combining WA with a series of ER stress aggravators enhanced apoptosis synergistically. WA was well tolerated in mice, and displayed synergism with ER stress aggravators to inhibit tumor growth in PC xenografts. Taken together, these findings indicate that simultaneous suppression of 2 key intracellular protein degradation systems rendered PC cells vulnerable to ER stress, which may represent an avenue for new therapeutic combinations for this disease.

Autophagy. 2016 Sep;12(9):1521-37.

Proteostasis disturbance in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting motoneurons in the brain and spinal cord leading to paralysis and death. Although the etiology of ALS remains poorly understood, abnormal protein aggregation and altered proteostasis are common features of sporadic and familial ALS forms. The proteostasis network is decomposed into different modules highly conserved across species and comprehends a collection of mechanisms related to protein synthesis, folding, trafficking, secretion and degradation that is distributed in different compartments inside the cell. Functional studies in various ALS models are revealing a complex scenario where distinct and even opposite effects in disease progression are observed depending on the targeted component of the proteostasis network. Importantly, alteration of the folding capacity of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is becoming a common pathological alteration in ALS, representing one of the earliest defects observed in disease models, contributing to denervation and motoneuron dysfunction. Strategies to target-specific components of the proteostasis network using small molecules and gene therapy are under development, and promise interesting avenues for future interventions to delay or stop ALS progression.

Hum Mol Genet. 2017 Oct 1;26(R2):R91-R104.

Proteostasis impairment in ALS.

In physiological conditions the maintenance of the cellular proteome is a prerequisite for optimal cell functioning and cell survival. Additionally, cells need to constantly sense and adapt to their changing environment and associated stressors. Cells achieve this via a set of molecular chaperones, protein clearance pathways as well as stress-associated signaling networks which work together to prevent protein misfolding, its aggregation and accumulation in subcellular compartments. These processes together form the proteostasis network which helps in maintaining cellular proteostasis. Imbalance or impairment in this processes is directly linked to ageing associated disorders such as diabetes, cancer, stroke, metabolic disorders, pulmonary fibrosis, inflammation and neurodegenerative diseases. In this review, we provide insights into the proteostasis process and how its failure governs neurodegenerative disorders with a special focus on Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This article is part of a Special Issue entitled SI:ER stress.

Brain Res. 2016 Oct 1;1648(Pt B):571-579.

Early-stage treatment with Withaferin A reduces levels of misfolded superoxide dismutase 1 and extends lifespan in a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Approximately 20% of cases of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are caused by mutations in the gene encoding Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1). Recent studies have shown that Withaferin A (WA), an inhibitor of nuclear factor-kappa B activity, was efficient in reducing disease phenotype in a TAR DNA binding protein 43 transgenic mouse model of ALS. These findings led us to test WA in mice from 2 transgenic lines expressing different ALS-linked SOD1 mutations, SOD1(G93A) and SOD1(G37R). Intraperitoneal administration of WA at a dosage of 4 mg/kg of body weight was initiated from postnatal day 40 until end stage in SOD1(G93A) mice, and from 9 months until end stage in SOD1(G37R) mice. The beneficial effects of WA in the SOD1(G93A) mice model were accompanied by an alleviation of neuroinflammation, a decrease in levels of misfolded SOD1 species in the spinal cord, and a reduction in loss of motor neurons resulting in delayed disease progression and mortality. Interestingly, WA treatment triggered robust induction of heat shock protein 25 (a mouse ortholog of heat shock protein 27), which may explain the reduced level of misfolded SOD1 species in the spinal cord of SOD1(G93A) mice and the decrease of neuronal injury responses, as revealed by real-time imaging of biophotonic SOD1(G93A) mice expressing a luciferase transgene under the control of the growth-associated protein 43 promoter. These results suggest that WA may represent a potential lead compound for drug development aiming to treat ALS.

Neurotherapeutics. 2015 Jan;12(1):217-33.

The pathophysiology of defective proteostasis in the hypothalamus - from obesity to ageing.

Hypothalamic dysfunction has emerged as an important mechanism involved in the development of obesity and its comorbidities, as well as in the process of ageing and age-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension and Alzheimer disease. In both obesity and ageing, inflammatory signalling is thought to coordinate many of the cellular events that lead to hypothalamic neuronal dysfunction. This process is triggered by the activation of signalling via the toll-like receptor 4 pathway and endoplasmic reticulum stress, which in turn results in intracellular inflammatory signalling. However, the process that connects inflammation with neuronal dysfunction is complex and includes several regulatory mechanisms that ultimately control the homeostasis of intracellular proteins and organelles (also known as ‘proteostasis’). This Review discusses the evidence for the key role of proteostasis in the control of hypothalamic neurons and the involvement of this process in regulating whole-body energy homeostasis and lifespan.

Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2016 Dec;12(12):723-733


Change in psychiatric symptomatology after benfotiamine treatment in males is related to lifetime alcoholism severity.

BACKGROUND: Severe alcoholism can be associated with significant nutritional and vitamin deficiency, especially vitamin B1 (thiamine) which is associated with neurological deficits impacting mood and cognition. Alcohol consumption was reduced among female but not male alcoholics after supplementation with the high potency thiamine analog benfotiamine (BF). We examined the relationship between lifetime alcoholism severity, psychiatric symptoms and response to BF among the alcohol dependent men from this cohort. METHODS: Eighty-five adult men (mean age=48±8 years) meeting DSM-IV-TR criteria for a current alcohol use disorder who were abstinent <30days participated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 600mg BF vs placebo (PL) for 6 months. Psychometric testing included a derived Lifetime Alcoholism Severity Score (AS), Symptom Checklist 90R (SCL-90R), and the Barratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS) at baseline and at 6 months. RESULTS: Baseline SCL-90-R scale scores for men with high alcoholism severity (AS≥24; N=46 HAS) were significantly greater than for men with low alcoholism severity (AS<24; N=39 LAS), but BIS scores did not differ. MANOVA modeling at follow-up (N=50 completed subjects) identified a significant treatment effect (F=2.5, df=10, p<0.03) and treatment×alcoholism severity level interaction (F=2.5, dfnum=10, dfden=30, p<0.03) indicating reduced SCL-90-R scores among BF treated, HAS males. Above normal plasma thiamine levels at follow-up predicted reduced depression scores in a BF-treated subset (F=3.2, p<0.09, N=26). CONCLUSION: BF appears to reduce psychiatric distress and may facilitate recovery in severely affected males with a lifetime alcohol use disorder and should be considered for adjuvant therapy in alcohol rehabilitation.

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015 Jul 1;152:257-63.

Double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial of benfotiamine for severe alcohol dependence.

Alcohol dependence is associated with severe nutritional and vitamin deficiency. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency erodes neurological pathways that may influence the ability to drink in moderation. The present study examines tolerability of supplementation using the high-potency thiamine analog, benfotiamine (BF), and BF’s effects on alcohol consumption in severely affected, self-identified, alcohol dependent subjects. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted on 120 non-treatment seeking, actively drinking, alcohol dependent men and women volunteers (mean age=47 years) from the Kansas City area who met DSM-IV-TR criteria for current alcohol dependence. Subjects were randomized to receive 600 mg benfotiamine or placebo (PL) once daily by mouth for 24 weeks with 6 follow-up assessments scheduled at 4 week intervals. Side effects and daily alcohol consumption were recorded. Seventy (58%) subjects completed 24 weeks of study (N=21 women; N=49 men) with overall completion rates of 55% (N=33) for PL and 63% (N=37) for BF groups. No significant adverse events were noted and alcohol consumption decreased significantly for both treatment groups. Alcohol consumption decreased from baseline levels for 9 of 10 BF treated women after 1 month of treatment compared with 2 of 11 on PL. Reductions in total alcohol consumption over 6 months were significantly greater for BF treated women (BF: N=10, -611 ± 380 standard drinks; PL: N=11, -159 ± 562 standard drinks, p-value=0.02). BF supplementation of actively drinking alcohol dependent men and women was well-tolerated and may discourage alcohol consumption among women. The results do support expanded studies of BF treatment in alcoholism.

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2013 Dec 1;133(2):562-70.

Areas of Brain Damage Underlying Increased Reports of Behavioral Disinhibition.

Disinhibition, the inability to inhibit inappropriate behavior, is seen in frontal-temporal degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke. Behavioral disinhibition leads to social and emotional impairments, including impulsive behavior and disregard for social conventions. The authors investigated the effects of lesions on behavioral disinhibition measured by the Neuropsychiatric Inventory in 177 veterans with traumatic brain injuries. The authors performed voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping using MEDx. Damage in the frontal and temporal lobes, gyrus rectus, and insula was associated with greater behavioral disinhibition, providing further evidence of the frontal lobe’s involvement in behavioral inhibition and suggesting that these regions are necessary to inhibit improper behavior.

J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2015 Summer;27(3):193-8.

Glucose levels and risk of dementia.

BACKGROUND: Diabetes is a risk factor for dementia. It is unknown whether higher glucose levels increase the risk of dementia in people without diabetes. METHODS: We used 35,264 clinical measurements of glucose levels and 10,208 measurements of glycated hemoglobin levels from 2067 participants without dementia to examine the relationship between glucose levels and the risk of dementia. Participants were from the Adult Changes in Thought study and included 839 men and 1,228 women whose mean age at baseline was 76 years; 232 participants had diabetes, and 1,835 did not. We fit Cox regression models, stratified according to diabetes status and adjusted for age, sex, study cohort, educational level, level of exercise, blood pressure, and status with respect to coronary and cerebrovascular diseases, atrial fibrillation, smoking, and treatment for hypertension. RESULTS: During a median follow-up of 6.8 years, dementia developed in 524 participants (74 with diabetes and 450 without). Among participants without diabetes, higher average glucose levels within the preceding 5 years were related to an increased risk of dementia (P=0.01); with a glucose level of 115 mg per deciliter (6.4 mmol per liter) as compared with 100 mg per deciliter (5.5 mmol per liter), the adjusted hazard ratio for dementia was 1.18 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04 to 1.33). Among participants with diabetes, higher average glucose levels were also related to an increased risk of dementia (P=0.002); with a glucose level of 190 mg per deciliter (10.5 mmol per liter) as compared with 160 mg per deciliter (8.9 mmol per liter), the adjusted hazard ratio was 1.40 (95% CI, 1.12 to 1.76). CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that higher glucose levels may be a risk factor for dementia, even among persons without diabetes. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health.)

N Engl J Med. 2013 Aug 8;369(6):540-8.

Abnormal thiamine-dependent processes in Alzheimer’s Disease. Lessons from diabetes.

Reduced glucose metabolism is an invariant feature of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and an outstanding biomarker of disease progression. Glucose metabolism may be an attractive therapeutic target, whether the decline initiates AD pathophysiology or is a critical component of a cascade. The cause of cerebral regional glucose hypometabolism remains unclear. Thiamine-dependent processes are critical in glucose metabolism and are diminished in brains of AD patients at autopsy. Further, the reductions in thiamine-dependent processes are highly correlated to the decline in clinical dementia rating scales. In animal models, thiamine deficiency exacerbates plaque formation, promotes phosphorylation of tau and impairs memory. In contrast, treatment of mouse models of AD with the thiamine derivative benfotiamine diminishes plaques, decreases phosphorylation of tau and reverses memory deficits. Diabetes predisposes to AD, which suggests they may share some common mechanisms. Benfotiamine diminishes peripheral neuropathy in diabetic humans and animals. In diabetes, benfotiamine induces key thiamine-dependent enzymes of the pentose shunt to reduce accumulation of toxic metabolites including advanced glycation end products (AGE). Related mechanisms may lead to reversal of plaque formation by benfotiamine in animals. If so, the use of benfotiamine could provide a safe intervention to reverse biological and clinical processes of AD progression. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled ‘Mitochondrial function and dysfunction in neurodegeneration’.

Mol Cell Neurosci. 2013 Jul;55:17-25.

Type 3 Diabetes: Cross Talk between Differentially Regulated Proteins of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Type 3 Diabetes (T3D) is a neuroendocrine disorder that represents the progression of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). T3D contributes in the increase of the total load of Alzheimer’s patients worldwide. The protein network based strategies were used for the analysis of protein interactions and hypothesis was derived describing the possible routes of communications among proteins. The hypothesis provides the insight on the probable mechanism of the disease progression for T3D. The current study also suggests that insulin degrading enzyme (IDE) could be the major player which holds the capacity to shift T2DM to T3D by altering metabolic pathways like regulation of beta-cell development, negative regulation of PI3K/AKT pathways and amyloid beta degradation.

Sci Rep. 2016 May 6;6:25589.

Role of anti-diabetic drugs as therapeutic agents in Alzheimer’s disease.

Recent data have suggested a strong possible link between Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), although exact mechanisms linking the two are still a matter of research and debate. Interestingly, both are diseases with high incidence and prevalence in later years of life. The link appears so strong that some scientists use Alzheimer’s and Type 3 Diabetes interchangeably. In depth study of recent data suggests that the anti diabetic drugs not only have possible role in treatment of Alzheimer’s but may also arrest the declining cognitive functions associated with it. The present review gives an insight into the possible links, existing therapeutics and clinical trials of anti diabetic drugs in patients suffering from AD primarily or as co-morbidity. It may be concluded that the possible beneficial effects and usefulness of the current anti diabetic drugs in AD cannot be neglected and further research is required to achieve positive results. Currently, several drug trials are in progress to give conclusive evidence based data.

EXCLI J. 2015 May 19;14:684-96.

Therapeutic strategies for Alzheimer’s disease in clinical trials.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is considered to be the most common cause of dementia and is an incurable, progressive neurodegenerative disorder. Current treatment of the disease, essentially symptomatic, is based on three cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine, affecting the glutamatergic system. Since 2003, no new drugs have been approved for treatment of AD. This article presents current directions in the search for novel, potentially effective agents for the treatment of AD, as well as selected promising treatment strategies. These include agents acting upon the beta-amyloid, such as vaccines, antibodies and inhibitors or modulators of g- and b-secretase; agents directed against the tau protein as well as compounds acting as antagonists of neurotransmitter systems (serotoninergic 5-HT6 and histaminergic H3). Ongoing clinical trials with Ab antibodies (solanezumab, gantenerumab, crenezumab) seem to be promising, while vaccines against the tau protein (AADvac1 and ACI-35) are now in early-stage trials. Interesting results have also been achieved in trials involving small molecules such as inhibitors of b-secretase (MK-8931, E2609), a combination of 5-HT6 antagonist (idalopirdine) with donepezil, inhibition of advanced glycation end product receptors by azeliragon or modulation of the acetylcholine response of a-7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors by encenicline. Development of new effective drugs acting upon the central nervous system is usually a difficult and time-consuming process, and in the case of AD to-date clinical trials have had a very high failure rate. Most phase II clinical trials ending with a positive outcome do not succeed in phase III, often due to serious adverse effects or lack of therapeutic efficacy.

Pharmacol Rep. 2016 Feb;68(1):127-38.

Relation of Dysglycemia to Structural Brain Changes in a Multiethnic Elderly Cohort.

OBJECTIVES: Abnormally high glucose levels (dysglycemia) increase with age. Epidemiological studies suggest that dysglycemia is a risk factor for cognitive impairment but the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms remain unclear. The objective of this study was to examine the relation of dysglycemia clinical categories (normal glucose tolerance (NGT), pre-diabetes, undiagnosed diabetes, known diabetes) with brain structure in older adults. We also assessed the relation between dysglycemia and cognitive performance. DESIGN: Cross-sectional and longitudinal cohort study. SETTING: Northern Manhattan (Washington Heights, Hamilton Heights, and Inwood). PARTICIPANTS: Medicare recipients 65 years and older. MEASUREMENTS: Dysglycemia categories were based on HBA1c or history of type 2 diabetes (diabetes). Brain structure (brain infarcts, white matter hyperintensities (WMH) volume, total gray matter volume, total white matter volume, total hippocampus volume) was assessed with brain magnetic resonance imaging; cognitive function (memory, language and visuospatial function, speed) was assessed with a validated neuropsychological battery. RESULTS: Dysglycemia, defined with HbA1c as a continuous variable or categorically as pre-diabetes and diabetes, was associated with a higher number of brain infarcts, WMH volume and decreased total white matter, gray matter and hippocampus volumes cross-sectionally, and a significant decline in gray matter volume longitudinally. Dysglycemia was also associated with lower performance in language, speed and visuospatial function although these associations were attenuated when adjusted for education, APOE-e4, ethnic group and vascular risk factors. CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that dysglycemia affects brain structure and cognition even in elderly survivors, evidenced by higher cerebrovascular disease, lower white and gray matter volume, and worse language and visuospatial function and cognitive speed.

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2017 Feb;65(2):277-285.


Lactose malabsorption and intolerance in the elderly.

BACKGROUND: Lactase activity declines with age in rats, but it is not clear whether this model is also shared by humans. Few studies have evaluated lactose intolerance and malabsorption in the elderly and no definite conclusions can be drawn. The aim of our study was therefore to verify the impact of age on lactose intolerance and malabsorption. METHODS: Eighty-four healthy subjects took part in the study. Thirty-three were <65 years, 17 were between 65 and 74 years and 34 were >74 years. All the subjects underwent a preliminary evaluation of intestinal gas production capacity and oro-cecal transit time by H2/CH4 breath test after lactulose. After a 3-day period, an H2/CH4 breath test after lactose was performed. The occurrence of intolerance symptoms during the test and in the 24 h after the test was recorded. RESULTS: Breath H2 and CH4 excretion parameters at fasting and after lactulose did not differ between the three groups. Cumulative breath H2 excretion after lactose was higher in subjects >74 years than in subjects <65 years and in subjects aged 65-74 years, while no difference was found between the latter two groups. In subjects >74 years, the prevalence of lactose malabsorption was higher than in the other two groups, while no significant difference was observed between subjects <65 years and subjects aged 65-74 years. Within the malabsorber subjects, the prevalence of lactose intolerance was higher in subjects <65 years than in those aged 65-74 years and in those aged >74 years. No significant difference was found between the latter two groups. No difference was found between the three groups in terms of daily calcium intake and a significant negative correlation between symptom score and daily calcium intake was only found in the group of subjects aged <65 years. CONCLUSIONS: As age increases, the prevalence of lactose malabsorption shows an increase while the prevalence of intolerance symptoms among malabsorbers shows a decrease. Accordingly, daily calcium intake was similar among the adults and elderly studied.

Scand J Gastroenterol. 2001 Dec;36(12):1274-8.

Changes in pancreatic exocrine secretion with age: pancreatic exocrine secretion does decrease in the elderly.

Pancreatic exocrine secretion was estimated in 180 normal control patients, free of abdominal and pancreatic disease, aged from 16 to 83 years. Duodenal juice was collected in two 15-min fractions after a single intravenous injection of 1 U/kg secretin + 3 U/kg CCK. Volume, maximal concentration and output of bicarbonate, lipase, phospholipase and chymotrypsin were estimated as well as minimal concentration and output of chloride and calcium. Each parameter was plotted against age, either individually or after separation into two age groups. Volume linearly increased up to the 3rd decade, and thereafter linearly decreased. Bicarbonate secretion paralleled fluid secretion and also decreased after the 3rd decade. The changes in chloride and calcium concentrations were different: concentrations linearly increased after the 3rd decade. Calcium concentration linearly increased with age (p less than 0.02) while chloride output was unchanged. The three enzymes that were studied linearly decreased in concentration as well as in output with age from the 3rd decade (p less than 0.02). Protein secretion decreased before water and bicarbonate secretion. One can conclude that pancreatic secretion changes in humans with age. Aging alters pancreatic secretion, through a decrease in flow rate, bicarbonate and enzyme secretion while calcium concentration is enhanced. Although not requiring substitutive therapy in the whole population, individual cases of pancreatic exocrine insufficiency might be explained by aging, without malnutrition.

Digestion. 1991;50(3-4):202-11.

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth syndrome.

Human intestinal microbiota create a complex polymicrobial ecology. This is characterised by its high population density, wide diversity and complexity of interaction. Any dysbalance of this complex intestinal microbiome, both qualitative and quantitative, might have serious health consequence for a macro-organism, including small intestinal bacterial overgrowth syndrome (SIBO). SIBO is defined as an increase in the number and/or alteration in the type of bacteria in the upper gastrointestinal tract. There are several endogenous defence mechanisms for preventing bacterial overgrowth: gastric acid secretion, intestinal motility, intact ileo-caecal valve, immunoglobulins within intestinal secretion and bacteriostatic properties of pancreatic and biliary secretion. Aetiology of SIBO is usually complex, associated with disorders of protective antibacterial mechanisms (e.g. achlorhydria, pancreatic exocrine insufficiency, immunodeficiency syndromes), anatomical abnormalities (e.g. small intestinal obstruction, diverticula, fistulae, surgical blind loop, previous ileo-caecal resections) and/or motility disorders (e.g. scleroderma, autonomic neuropathy in diabetes mellitus, post-radiation enteropathy, small intestinal pseudo-obstruction). In some patients more than one factor may be involved. Symptoms related to SIBO are bloating, diarrhoea, malabsorption, weight loss and malnutrition. The gold standard for diagnosing SIBO is still microbial investigation of jejunal aspirates. Non-invasive hydrogen and methane breath tests are most commonly used for the diagnosis of SIBO using glucose or lactulose. Therapy for SIBO must be complex, addressing all causes, symptoms and complications, and fully individualised. It should include treatment of the underlying disease, nutritional support and cyclical gastro-intestinal selective antibiotics. Prognosis is usually serious, determined mostly by the underlying disease that led to SIBO.

World J Gastroenterol. 2010 Jun 28;16(24):2978-90.

Understanding the gastrointestinal tract of the elderly to develop dietary solutions that prevent malnutrition.

Although the prevalence of malnutrition in the old age is increasing worldwide a synthetic understanding of the impact of aging on the intake, digestion, and absorption of nutrients is still lacking. This review article aims at filling the gap in knowledge between the functional decline of the aging gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and the consequences of malnutrition on the health status of elderly. Changes in the aging GIT include the mechanical disintegration of food, gastrointestinal motor function, food transit, chemical food digestion, and functionality of the intestinal wall. These alterations progressively decrease the ability of the GIT to provide the aging organism with adequate levels of nutrients, what contributes to the development of malnutrition. Malnutrition, in turn, increases the risks for the development of a range of pathologies associated with most organ systems, in particular the nervous-, muscoskeletal-, cardiovascular-, immune-, and skin systems. In addition to psychological, economics, and societal factors, dietary solutions preventing malnutrition should thus propose dietary guidelines and food products that integrate knowledge on the functionality of the aging GIT and the nutritional status of the elderly. Achieving this goal will request the identification, validation, and correlative analysis of biomarkers of food intake, nutrient bioavailability, and malnutrition.

Oncotarget. 2015 Jun 10;6(16):13858-98.

Exercise and nutritional needs of elderly people: effects on muscle and bone.

Advancing age is associated with a remarkable number of changes in body composition. Reductions in lean body mass have been well characterized. This decreased lean body mass occurs primarily as a result of losses in skeletal muscle mass. This age-related loss in muscle mass has been termed sarcopenia. Loss in muscle mass accounts for the age-associated decreases in basal metabolic rate, muscle strength, and activity levels, which, in turn is the cause of the decreased energy requirements of the elderly. In sedentary individuals, the main determinant of energy expenditure is fat-free mass, which declines by about 15% between the third and eighth decade of life. It also appears that declining caloric needs are not matched by an appropriate decline in caloric intake, with the ultimate result an increased body fat content with advancing age. Increased body fatness along with increased abdominal obesity are thought to be directly linked to the greatly increased incidence of Type II diabetes among the elderly. This review will discuss the extent to which regularly performed exercise can effect nutritional needs and functional capacity in the elderly. In addition, some basic guidelines for beginning an exercise program for older men and women, and establishing community-based programs are provided.

Gerodontology. 1998;15(1):15-24.

Biological significance of dietary polyamines.

Polyamines are classically known by their names of putrescine, spermine, and spermidine. They are synthesized endogenously from ornithine and are interconvertible. In addition, an exogenous supply of polyamines is provided by dietary intake and by intestinal absorption from the products of bacterial metabolism. Polyamine uptake occurs almost entirely in the gut, and afterward the various forms are metabolized in different tissues under the strict regulation of ornithine decarboxylase, which is the first enzyme involved in their synthesis. Polyamines are eliminated from the organism by means of oxidation reactions, appearing in urine in all their metabolic forms. Polyamines play an important role in regulating cell growth and proliferation, the stabilization of negative charges of DNA, RNA transcription, protein synthesis, apoptosis, and the regulation of the immune response. They are components of breast milk and might be important in neonatal gut maturation, for which reason the possible supplementation of infant formulas with these compounds is under study.

Nutrition. 2007 Jan;23(1):87-95.

Biogenic amines in fish, fish products and shellfish: a review.

Fish, cephalopods and shellfish provide a healthy source of high-quality proteins, essential vitamins, minerals and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The beneficial effects of fish consumption on human health such as protection against coronary heart disease and certain cancer may be offset by fish decomposition and the formation of chemical contaminants such as biogenic amines. There are several toxicological effects of biogenic amines on humans, especially histamine. It is the causative agent of histamine or scombroid fish poisoning which is a significant public health problem. In individuals with diminished histamine detoxification, ingestion of even a low or moderate histamine- or tyramine-containing fish may lead to food intolerance. Biogenic amines such as putrescine, tyramine and cadaverine can potentiate histamine toxicity. Furthermore, dietary polyamine intake should be minimised in some cancer patients. Besides their potential toxicity, biogenic amines are used for the evaluation of hygienic quality of different marine and freshwater species. Spoilage pattern and biogenic amine formation are species specific. Histamine has been traditionally used as an indicator of the quality of histidine-rich fish (dark-muscle fish). On the other hand, putrescine and cadaverine are the most objective indicators of quality of histidine-poor fish (white-muscle fish), shellfish and fermented seafood products.

Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2011 Nov;28(11):1547-60.

Review of the association between meat consumption and risk of colorectal cancer.

The incidence of colorectal cancer (CRC) is rapidly increasing in developing countries, especially among populations that are adopting Western-style diets. Several, but not all, epidemiological and experimental studies suggest that a high intake of meat, especially red and processed meat, is associated with increased CRC risk. Potential reasons for the association between high red and processed meat intake and CRC risk include the content of the meat (e.g. protein, heme) and compounds generated by the cooking process (e.g. N-nitroso compounds, heterocyclic amines). These factors can affect the large intestine mucosa with genotoxicity and metabolic disturbances. Increased bacterial fermentation (putrefaction) of undigested protein and production of bacterial metabolites derived from amino acids may affect colon epithelial homeostasis and renewal. This correlates with the fact that most colonic cancers are detected in the distal colon and rectum where protein fermentation actively occurs. However, there are still large controversies on the relationship between red meat consumption and CRC risk. Therefore, the purpose of this review is to enhance the current understanding on the association between high red and processed meat intakes with CRC risk. A principal focus of this review will be to discuss the meat-related components, such as proteins in the meat, heme, N-nitroso compounds, and heterocyclic amines, and the effects they have upon the large intestine mucosa and the intestinal gut microbiota.

Nutr Res. 2013 Dec;33(12):983-94.

Effects of a proteolytic feed enzyme on intake, digestion, ruminal fermentation, and milk production.

The effects of exogenous proteolytic enzyme (EPE) on intake, digestibility, ruminal fermentation, and lactational performance were determined using 8 lactating Holstein cows in a double 4 x4 Latin square experiment with a 2 x2 factorial arrangement of treatments. Diets based on barley silage and alfalfa hay as the forage sources were formulated to maintain different forage to concentrate ratios [60:40 vs. 34:66, dry matter (DM) basis]. Four dietary treatments were tested: high forage (HF) without EPE (HF-EPE), HF with EPE (HF+EPE), low forage (LF) without EPE (LF-EPE), and LF with EPE (LF+EPE). The EPE, which contained proteolytic activity but negligible fibrolytic activity, was added to the concentrate portion of the diets after pelleting at a rate of 1.25 mL/kg of DM. Adding EPE to the diet increased total tract digestibilities of DM, organic matter, N, acid detergent fiber, and neutral detergent fiber, with larger increases in digestibility observed for cows fed LF+EPE. Effects of added EPE on in vivo digestibility were consistent with improvements in gas production and degradability of the individual components of the TMR observed in vitro. Ruminal enzymic activities of xylanase and endoglucanase increased with addition of EPE to the diet, which may have accounted for improvements in fiber digestion. However, feeding EPE unexpectedly decreased feed intake of cows, which offset the benefits of improved feed digestibility. Consequently, milk yield of cows fed high or low forage diets decreased with adding EPE. Nevertheless, dairy efficiency, expressed as milk/DM intake, was highest for the LF+EPE diet. Addition of EPE to the diet increased milk fat and milk lactose percentages, but decreased milk protein percentage of cows fed a low forage diet. For cows fed high forage diets, EPE only increased milk lactose percentage. Efficiency of N use for milk production was decreased for both the high and low forage diets when EPE was added to the diet. Mean ruminal pH was lowered when EPE was added a low forage diet, likely due to the increased degradation of forage and concentrate, but there was no effect of EPE on rumen pH when cows were fed high forage diets. Profiles of VFA and microbial yield were not affected by adding EPE to the diets. Adding EPE to a total mixed ration containing alfalfa hay, barley silage, and concentrate improved nutrient digestibility in the total tract, and the response was maximized with a high concentrate diet. However, improvements in digestibility were offset by decreased feed intake, likely due to increased ruminal acidosis.

J Dairy Sci. 2005 Jun;88(6):2140-53.

Effect of a single dose of lactase on symptoms and expired hydrogen after lactose challenge in lactose-intolerant subjects.

The effect of a single dose or oral lactase on symptoms, breath hydrogen concentration, and glucose absorption in lactose-intolerant subjects challenged with lactose was studied. Volunteers underwent a lactose challenge test; those whose breath hydrogen concentrations increased 20 ppm or more and who met other criteria were admitted as subjects. After fasting, the subjects were given three chewable lactase tablets (total lactase dose, 9900 FCC units) or placebo tablets in a randomized, double-blind, crossover manner. The subjects also consumed 8 oz of whole milk in which 37.5 g of lactose powder was dissolved (total lactose content, 50 g). The washout period between lactose challenges was at least one week. Breath hydrogen and plasma glucose concentrations were measured before and at intervals after the challenges, and the subjects completed symptom-evaluation questionnaires every eight hours for four days. Twenty-four subjects completed the study. The maximum mean breath hydrogen concentration was significantly lower after lactase treatment than after placebo treatment. In 21 subjects, the area under the hydrogen concentration-time curve (AUC) was lower after lactase than after placebo; three subjects had hydrogen AUCs more than 300 lower. There were no significant differences in plasma glucose levels. Subjective ratings of the severity of abdominal cramping, belching, flatulence, and diarrhea were lower during the first eight hours after challenge in lactase-treated subjects; ratings for bloating were lower during the next eight hours. Single doses of a chewable lactase tablet reduced the concentration of expired hydrogen and symptoms of lactose intolerance after a lactose challenge.

Clin Pharm. 1992 Jun;11(6):533-8.


Nothing Boring About Boron.

The trace mineral boron is a micronutrient with diverse and vitally important roles in metabolism that render it necessary for plant, animal, and human health, and as recent research suggests, possibly for the evolution of life on Earth. As the current article shows, boron has been proven to be an important trace mineral because it (1) is essential for the growth and maintenance of bone; (2) greatly improves wound healing; (3) beneficially impacts the body’s use of estrogen, testosterone, and vitamin D; (4) boosts magnesium absorption; (5) reduces levels of inflammatory biomarkers, such as high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and tumor necrosis factor a (TNF-a); (6) raises levels of antioxidant enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, and glutathione peroxidase; (7) protects against pesticide-induced oxidative stress and heavy-metal toxicity; (8) improves the brains electrical activity, cognitive performance, and short-term memory for elders; (9) influences the formation and activity of key biomolecules, such as S-adenosyl methionine (SAM-e) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD(+)); (10) has demonstrated preventive and therapeutic effects in a number of cancers, such as prostate, cervical, and lung cancers, and multiple and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; and (11) may help ameliorate the adverse effects of traditional chemotherapeutic agents. In none of the numerous studies conducted to date, however, do boron’s beneficial effects appear at intakes > 3 mg/d. No estimated average requirements (EARs) or dietary reference intakes (DRIs) have been set for boron-only an upper intake level (UL) of 20 mg/d for individuals aged ≥ 18 y. The absence of studies showing harm in conjunction with the substantial number of articles showing benefits support the consideration of boron supplementation of 3 mg/d for any individual who is consuming a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables or who is at risk for or has osteopenia; osteoporosis; osteoarthritis (OA); or breast, prostate, or lung cancer.

Integr Med (Encinitas). 2015 Aug;14(4):35-48.

The effects of dietary boron on bone strength in rats.

Previous studies from our laboratory found that when boric acid (BA) was administered in the diet to rats, boron levels in bone were approximately fourfold greater than serum levels. The current studies were undertaken to determine if these elevations produced adverse effects on several bone-related measures, including serum electrolyte levels, bone structure, and bone strength. Data from two studies are presented: in the first study, young adult male rats consumed a powdered diet containing 0, 3000, 4500, 6000, or 9000 ppm BA for 9 weeks. Endpoints were serum calcium, phosphorous, potassium, and chloride, as well as blood and bone boron concentrations ([B]) measured weekly during the 9-week exposure period, and at 8, 16, 24, and 32 weeks after the end of exposure. In the second study, the male and female young adult rats diet contained 0, 200, 1000, 3000, or 9000 ppm BA for 12 weeks; endpoints measured weekly were serum levels of calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium, bone [B], and bone structure (humerus) and strength (tibia, femur, and lumbar vertebrae). In treated rats, calcium was reduced in the first study but not the second. Serum phosphorous was reduced in both studies; potassium was unchanged, chloride was increased by 1%, and magnesium was reduced in all BA-exposed groups in the second study, to a maximal 19% reduction. Bone [B] was consistently increased in all treated groups, to concentrations approximately fourfold those of serum. After cessation of exposure, serum and urinary boron concentrations dropped to within control values within a week. However, even 32 weeks after the end of exposure, bone [B] remained threefold greater than controls. Male tibia and femur resistance to bending was unchanged. However, vertebral strength in compression was significantly increased by 5-10% in all dose groups (200 to 9000 ppm). The pattern was substantially similar in females. Only the humerus was examined by light microscopy and was found to be unchanged at any level of BA consumption. These data show that, despite a reduction in some serum electrolyte levels, BA consumption increased vertebral resistance to crush force, without detectably altering the microscopic structure of the humerus or the resistance of femur and tibia to a bending load. This increase in compression resistance occurred at exposure levels substantially below those that were previously reported to be reproductively toxic.

Fundam Appl Toxicol. 1997 Feb;35(2):205-15.

Studies on the relationship between boron and magnesium which possibly affects the formation and maintenance of bones.

Recent findings are reviewed indicating that changes in dietary boron and magnesium affect calcium, and thus bone, metabolism in animals and humans. In animals, the need for boron was found to be enhanced when they needed to respond to a nutritional stress which adversely affected calcium metabolism, including magnesium deficiency. A combined deficiency of boron and magnesium caused detrimental changes in the bones of animals. However, boron deprivation did not seem to enhance the requirement for magnesium. In two human studies, boron deprivation caused changes in variables associated with calcium metabolism in a manner that could be construed as being detrimental to bone formation and maintenance; these changes apparently were enhanced by low dietary magnesium. Changes caused by boron deprivation included depressed plasma ionized calcium and calcitonin as well as elevated plasma total calcium and urinary excretion of calcium. In one human study, magnesium deprivation depressed plasma ionized calcium and cholesterol. Because boron and/or magnesium deprivation causes changes similar to those seen in women with postmenopausal osteoporosis, these elements are apparently needed for optimal calcium metabolism and are thus needed to prevent the excessive bone loss which often occurs in postmenopausal women and older men.

Magnes Trace Elem. 1990;9(2):61-9.

A histomorphometric study of alveolar bone modelling and remodelling in mice fed a boron-deficient diet.

OBJECTIVE: Emerging evidence indicates that boron (B) plays a role in bone formation and maintenance. Thus, a study was performed to determine whether dietary B-deficiency affects periodontal alveolar bone modelling and remodelling. DESIGN: Weanling Swiss mice (n=30) were divided into three groups: control diet (GI, 3mg B/kg); B-deficient diet (GII, 0.07 mg B/kg); and pair-fed with GII (GIII). The animals were maintained on their respective diets for 9 weeks and then sacrificed. The guidelines of the NIH for the care and use of laboratory animals were observed. The mandibles were resected, fixed, decalcified in 10% EDTA and embedded in paraffin. Buccolingually oriented sections were obtained at the level of the mesial root of the first lower molar and stained with H-E. Histomorphometric studies were performed separately on the buccal and lingual sides of the periodontal alveolar bone. Percentages of osteoblast surfaces (ObSs), eroded surfaces (ESs), and quiescent surfaces (QSs) were determined. RESULTS: No statistically significant differences in food intake and body weight were observed between the groups. When compared with GI and GIII mice, GII mice (B-deficient) had 63% and 48% reductions in ObS and 58% and 73% increases in QS in buccal and lingual plates, respectively. ES were not affected by B nutriture. CONCLUSION: The results are evidence that dietary boron deprivation in mice alters periodontal alveolar bone modelling and remodelling by inhibiting bone formation.

Arch Oral Biol. 2008 Jul;53(7):677-82.

Effect of dietary boron on mineral, estrogen, and testosterone metabolism in postmenopausal women.

A study was done to examine the effects of aluminum, magnesium, and boron on major mineral metabolism in postmenopausal women. This communication describes some of the effects of dietary boron on 12 women between the ages of 48 and 82 housed in a metabolic unit. A boron supplement of 3 mg/day markedly affected several indices of mineral metabolism of seven women consuming a low-magnesium diet and five women consuming a diet adequate in magnesium; the women had consumed a conventional diet supplying about 0.25 mg boron/day for 119 days. Boron supplementation markedly reduced the urinary excretion of calcium and magnesium; the depression seemed more marked when dietary magnesium was low. Boron supplementation depressed the urinary excretion of phosphorus by the low-magnesium, but not by the adequate-magnesium, women. Boron supplementation markedly elevated the serum concentrations of 17 beta-estradiol and testosterone; the elevation seemed more marked when dietary magnesium was low. Neither high dietary aluminum (1000 mg/day) nor an interaction between boron and aluminum affected the variables presented. The findings suggest that supplementation of a low-boron diet with an amount of boron commonly found in diets high in fruits and vegetables induces changes in postmenopausal women consistent with the prevention of calcium loss and bone demineralization.

FASEB J. 1987 Nov;1(5):394-7.