News flashes are posted here frequently to keep you up-to-date with the latest advances in health and longevity. We have an unparalleled track record of breaking stories about life extension advances.
First randomized calorie restriction trial reveals slower biological aging
December 29 2017. The January 2018 issue of The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, published the outcome of an analysis of data from a randomized trial that studied the effects of calorie restriction (CR) in adults. The researchers determined that consuming fewer calories was associated with a slower increase in measures of biological aging and that weight loss was not responsible for the benefits observed.
Daniel W. Belsky and colleagues at Duke University analyzed data from 220 nonobese adults who participated in the National Institute on Aging Comprehensive Assessment of the Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy (CALERIE) trial. Participants restricted their caloric intake by 25% or maintained their current diet for two years. Biomarker data obtained at the beginning of the trial and at one and two-year follow-up assessments was used to calculate two biological age measures, both of which indicated that calorie restricted slowed biologic aging.
"Remarkably, caloric restriction has been shown to be effective in delaying aging in multiple species and the results in humans look equally promising," commented Biological Sciences Co-Editor-in-Chief Rozalyn M. Anderson, PhD, FGSA, who is the head of the Metabolism of Aging Research Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Indeed for many studies, CR is used as the gold-standard for enhanced longevity against which new drugs and anti-aging strategies are measured."
The report is part of a special issue of the journal dedicated to the benefits of caloric restriction. "In keeping with the extraordinary track record of The Journals of Gerontology in multidisciplinary aging studies, the special issue features CR studies ranging from simple unicellular models to human clinical trials," Dr Anderson stated. "One of the things that people sometimes miss is the amazing fact that aging can be altered; CR research proves this."
High antioxidant fruits top list for lung protection
December 27 2017. The December 2017 issue of the European Respiratory Journal published the results of a study that found protective effects for tomatoes and other high antioxidant fruits against the decline in lung function that can occur during aging. “In the present study, we sought to investigate whether a higher intake of dietary sources of antioxidants in middle-aged European adults could attenuate ageing-related lung function decline over 10 years,” explained lead researcher Vanessa Garcia-Larsen of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and her associates.
The current investigation, which is part of the Ageing for Lungs in European Cohorts study, included 680 adults that participated in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey. Food frequency questionnaires completed upon enrollment between 1991 and 1993 were analyzed for antioxidant intake. Lung function was assessed by spirometry testing during 1998-2002 and 2012.
A high intake of fruit and apples was associated with a decrease in the decline in forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) over ten years of follow up. Consuming more apples, bananas, tomatoes, herb tea and vitamin C was associated with a reduction in the decline of forced vital capacity (FVC), another measure of lung function. Further statistical analysis found significance for tomato intake as protective against FVC decline. When smokers, nonsmokers and ex-smokers were separately considered, higher apple, banana and tomato intake were associated with a reduction in FVC decline in ex-smokers.
"This study shows that diet might help repair lung damage in people who have stopped smoking,” Dr Garcia-Larsen stated. “It also suggests that a diet rich in fruits can slow down the lung's natural aging process even if you have never smoked. The findings support the need for dietary recommendations, especially for people at risk of developing respiratory diseases such as COPD."
Compounds in leafy green vegetables could help prevent cognitive decline
December 22 2017. An article that appeared on December 20, 2017 in Neurology® reports an association between daily consumption of green, leafy vegetables and a reduction in the rate of cognitive decline.
Martha Clare Morris, ScD, of Rush University Medical Center and colleagues analyzed data from 960 participants between the ages of 58 and 99 years in the Rush Memory and Aging Project. Subjects completed food frequency questionnaires and received two or more cognitive assessments over an average period of 4.7 years.
Individuals whose intake of leafy green vegetables including spinach, kale/collards/greens, and lettuce, was among the top 20% of subjects at a median of 1.3 servings per day had a rate of cognitive decline over follow-up that was significantly slower than that of subjects’ whose intake was among the lowest 20% at 0.1 servings per day. The authors compared the difference to that of someone 11 years younger. When individual nutrients contained in leafy vegetables were analyzed, having an intake among the top 20% of intake of phylloquinone (vitamin K1), lutein, folate, alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E), nitrate and kaempferol were each associated with slower cognitive decline in comparison with an intake that was among the lowest fifth.
The authors concluded that “Consumption of approximately 1 serving per day of green leafy vegetables and foods rich in phylloquinone, lutein, nitrate, folate, alpha-tocopherol, and kaempferol may help to slow cognitive decline with aging.”
"Adding a daily serving of green, leafy vegetables to your diet may be a simple way to foster your brain health," Dr Morris commented. "Projections show sharp increases in the percentage of people with dementia as the oldest age groups continue to grow in number, so effective strategies to prevent dementia are critical."
Meta-analysis affirms association between ED and cardiovascular disease
December 20 2017. A review and meta-analysis appearing on December 15, 2017 in Vascular Medicine adds evidence to the presence of erectile dysfunction (ED) as a risk factor for subclinical cardiovascular disease.
The analysis included 15 studies that evaluated the association between ED and flow-mediated dilation (which assesses endothelial function) in 2,025 men, and 12 studies that examined the association between ED and carotid intima-media thickness among a total of 1,264 participants. They found that the presence of ED was associated with a 2.64 percentage point reduction in flow mediated dilation and with carotid intima-media thickness that averaged 0.09 millimeter greater than that which was measured in men who did not have the condition. The associations were not affected by age, study quality or other factors.
“Previous studies have demonstrated the utility of cardiovascular disease risk reduction (through lifestyle changes and/or statins) in improving ED; however, the benefits of cardiovascular disease risk reduction on ED improvement are still not widely publicized, especially to men who are less likely to participate in lifestyle improvement programs,” write Chukwuemeka U. Osondu of Baptist Health South Florida and colleagues. "Our study supports a more aggressive cardiovascular disease risk assessment and management for persons with erectile dysfunction, including young men who may otherwise be categorized as low risk due to their young ages."
"The presence of erectile dysfunction portends a higher risk of future cardiovascular events, particularly in intermediate risk men, and may serve as an opportunity for intensification of cardiovascular risk prevention strategies," note Drs. Naomi Hamburg and Matt Kluge in an accompanying editorial. "The findings add to the growing evidence supporting additional trials to determine the clinical impact of erectile dysfunction screening and the appropriate cardiovascular directed evaluation and treatment of men with erectile dysfunction."
Tea drinkers have lower glaucoma risk
Glaucoma is a disease in which pressure builds up inside the eye, resulting in damage to the optic nerve and visual impairment. It is one of the leading causes of blindness.
The study included participants in the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Questionnaire responses provided information concerning the frequency of consumption of regular or decaffeinated coffee and tea, iced tea and soft drinks during the previous 12 months. Eye examinations conducted during 2005-2006 among 1,678 participants revealed the presence of glaucoma in 5% of the adults.
The research team found an association between drinking hot tea once daily or more frequently and a 74% lower adjusted risk of glaucoma. No effect on glaucoma risk was found for regular or decaffeinated coffee, decaffeinated tea, iced tea and soft drinks.
The antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective compounds in tea may play a role in the protective effects that have been associated with the beverage in numerous studies. Positive effects have also been revealed for caffeine in recent research. Findings from another study suggest that caffeine can lower intraocular pressure.
“This study is limited by its cross-sectional design and use of multiple statistical testing, and larger prospective studies are needed to investigate the proposed association between tea consumption and decreased glaucoma risk,” authors Connie M. Wu of Brown University and colleagues conclude.
Soy, cruciferous vegetables could help lower breast cancer treatment side effects
December 13 2017. An article appearing on December 11, 2017 in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment reported an association between greater consumption of soy foods and cruciferous vegetables and a lower risk of experiencing side effects from breast cancer therapy. Soy foods take many forms, such as tofu, soy milk or cheese, and edamame, and cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, and more.
The study included 173 non-Hispanic Caucasian and 192 Chinese-American breast cancer survivors. Dietary intake data was obtained from responses to mailed questionnaires. Telephone interviews obtained information concerning treatment-related symptoms, including joint problems, fatigue, hair loss or thinning, memory problems and menopausal symptoms. (Endocrine therapies that inhibit estrogen use or production can result in the symptoms women experience when undergoing menopause.)
Consuming 24 grams or more soy was associated with a 49% lower risk of experiencing menopausal symptoms and a 57% lower risk of fatigue compared to no soy. In comparison with subjects whose intake of cruciferous vegetables was less than 33 grams per day, consuming 70.8 grams or more was associated with half the risk of menopausal symptoms. The associations were significant for Caucasian breast cancer survivors. Higher intake of the foods was also associated with less reporting of other symptoms, but the associations failed to attain statistical significance. It was suggested that isoflavones occurring in soy and glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables are responsible for the reduction in symptoms observed in the current study.
"These symptoms can adversely impact survivors' quality of life and can lead them to stopping ongoing treatments,” commented lead author Sarah Oppeneer Nomura, PhD, of Georgetown University. "Understanding the role of life style factors is important because diet can serve as a modifiable target for possibly reducing symptoms among breast cancer survivors."
Taurine could improve MS therapies
December 11 2017. The addition of the amino acid taurine to current multiple sclerosis (MS) therapies could improve patient outcomes, according to research reported on November 13, 2017 in Nature Chemical Biology.
Multiple sclerosis develops when the immune system attacks the nerves’ protective myelin sheaths, which can lead to sensory deficits, loss of mobility and other symptoms.
Luke Lairson, PhD, and colleagues at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) investigated oligodendrocyte precursor cell differentiation, which is limited during progressive stages of demyelinating diseases such as MS. Oligodendrocytes are cells that produce the myelin sheath that insulates axons, which extend from nerve cells to transmit impulses to other nerve cells.
Using mass-spectrometry-based metabolomics, which can identify metabolites made in the body, taurine was found to be elevated more than 20-fold during oligodendrocyte differentiation and maturation. "Metabolomic profiling can offer unique insight into many different diseases, both mechanistically and therapeutically," noted co-senior author Gary Siuzdak, PhD, who is senior director of TSRI's Scripps Center for Metabolomics.
When added to cultured oligodendrocytes in combination with the pharmaceuticals benztropine or miconazole, taurine boosted oligodendrocyte precursor cell maturation. "Combining taurine with drugs that induce differentiation significantly enhances the process," reported Dr Lairson, who is an assistant professor of chemistry at TSRI. "You get more myelin."
"Remission of MS symptoms is dependent on the process of remyelination, so using taurine in combination with an existing MS drug and a future remyelination-inducing treatment may help patients by improving overall efficacy," he added. "This could be something to add to an MS therapeutic regime."
"Unlike other omic technologies, the beauty of metabolomics and activity testing is that metabolites are readily commercially accessible, generally inexpensive, and can directly impact phenotype quickly," Dr Siuzdak commented. "We are no longer passive observers but instead active participants."
Healthy mitochondria, healthy brain
December 8 2017. An article appearing on December 6, 2017 in Nature reports that improving mitochondrial defenses reduces the formation of amyloid plaques that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. Mitochondria, the cells’ power plants, produce energy used by the body and brain. Unprotected mitochondria could increase the brain’s susceptibility to damage and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Here we provide bioinformatic and experimental evidence of a conserved mitochondrial stress response signature present in diseases involving amyloid-beta proteotoxicity in human, mouse and Caenorhabditis elegans that involves the mitochondrial unfolded protein response and mitophagy pathways,” write Vincenzo Sorrentino and colleagues. “Using a worm model of amyloid-beta proteotoxicity, GMC101, we recapitulated mitochondrial features and confirmed that the induction of this mitochondrial stress response was essential for the maintenance of mitochondrial proteostasis and health.”
"These defense and recycle pathways of the mitochondria are essential in organisms, from the worm C. elegans all the way to humans," Dr Sorrentino explained. "So, we decided to pharmacologically activate them."
The researchers evaluated the antibiotic doxycycline and the vitamin nicotinamide riboside (NR), which can activate the mitochondrial unfolded protein response and mitophagy defense systems in a worm model of Alzheimer's disease. They observed improved health, performance and lifespan, and less amyloid plaque when the compounds were administered to the worms in comparison with untreated worms. Benefits were also found in human neuronal cells. When NR was tested in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, mitochondrial and cognitive function improved, and plaque formation was reduced.
"So far, Alzheimer's disease has been considered to be mostly the consequence of the accumulation of amyloid plaques in the brain," senior author Johan Auwerx stated. "We have shown that restoring mitochondrial health reduces plaque formation - but, above all, it also improves brain function, which is the ultimate objective of all Alzheimer's researchers and patients."
“By targeting mitochondria, nicotinamide riboside and other molecules that stimulate their 'defense and recycle' systems could perhaps succeed where so many drugs, most of which aim to decrease amyloid plaque formation, have failed," Dr Sorrentino added.
Lithium shows promise for damage associated with fetal alcohol syndrome, stroke
December 6 2017. The January 15, 2018 issue of the journal Neuroscience reported that a dose of lithium blocked some of the effects alcohol, including disordered sleep, in a mouse model of fetal alcohol syndrome. While lithium has been used for decades in the treatment of bipolar disorder, it has been recently found to be associated with other benefits, including memory enhancement.
“Developmental ethanol exposure is a well-known cause of lifelong cognitive deficits, behavioral hyperactivity, emotional dysregulation, and more,” wrote M. Lewin and colleagues at New York University School of Medicine. “In healthy adults, sleep is thought to have a critical involvement in each of these processes. Our previous work has demonstrated that some aspects of cognitive impairment in adult mice exposed at postnatal day 7 to ethanol correlate with slow-wave sleep fragmentation.”
The team administered ethanol or saline to a group of mice on postnatal day 7 and gave half of the animals an injection of lithium chloride. In comparison with saline-treated controls, animals that received ethanol developed hyperactivity, cognitive impairment and reduced slow-wave sleep as adults; however, these effects were reduced by cotreatment with lithium. Lithium additionally prevented the development of changes in specific brain cells experienced by ethanol-treated mice.
"Our study showed that lithium chloride prevented many of the damaging neurological effects of alcohol abuse on the still-developing brain, especially the impact on the parts of the brain controlling sleep," stated co-senior investigator Donald Wilson, PhD.
Dr Wilson plans to investigate whether lithium chloride can block other forms of neurological damage, such as that which results from stroke and trauma. Co-lead investigator Monica Lewin, MS, remarked that the study brings researchers closer to determining whether the correction of fetal alcohol syndrome-associated sleep issues is key to preventing other developmental effects.
Youth drug mimetics discovered
December 4 2017.An article appearing on November 15, 2017 in the journal Aging announced the discovery of naturally occurring compounds that mimic the anticancer and antiaging effects of the prescription drugs metformin and rapamycin. Metformin is commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes and rapamycin is used by organ transplant recipients to prevent rejection.
“We applied several bioinformatic approaches and deep learning methods to the Library of Integrated Network‐based Cellular Signatures (LINCS) dataset to map the gene‐ and pathway‐level signatures of metformin and rapamycin and screen for matches among over 800 natural compounds,” explained Alexander Aliper of Insilico Medicine Inc, and colleagues. “We then predicted the safety of each compound with an ensemble of deep neural network classifiers.”
The analysis identified allantoin and ginsenoside (from ginseng) as mimetics of metformin, epigallocatechin gallate (which occurs in green tea) and isoliquiritigenin (found in licorice) as mimetics of rapamycin, and withaferin A (found in ashwagandha) as a strong mimetic of both compounds. They also identified four novel compounds as rapamycin mimetics.
"This study is significant not only for the identification of novel candidate mimetics of metformin and rapamycin, which as natural compounds are not subject to regulatory bodies like the FDA and which have higher-scoring safety profiles as indicated by our deep-learned safety profile classification analysis, but also for demonstrating particularly powerful screening methods that can be applied to the identification of novel and safe mimetics of other known anticancer and healthspan-extending drugs and compounds" commented coauthor Franco Cortese, who is Deputy Director of the Biogerontology Research Foundation.
"Aging is not recognized as a disease, so we need strong potential geroprotectors of natural origin on the market--supplements that slow down aging, affecting the key mechanisms of aging at the molecular and cellular level," coauthor Alexey Moskalev, PhD, added.
Schizophrenia associated with vitamin deficiencies from the start
December 1 2017. Findings from a meta-analysis reported on November 30, 2017 in Schizophrenia Bulletin reveal significantly lower levels of folate and vitamin D among individuals experiencing their first psychotic episode in comparison with control subjects.
Joseph Firth of NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University in Australia and his colleagues analyzed 28 studies that examined blood levels of 6 vitamins and 10 minerals in 1,221 subjects who presented with first episode psychosis and 1,391 control subjects. They found significantly lower levels of the B vitamin folate and vitamin D in those with first episode psychosis compared to the controls. Rising levels of both vitamins were associated with decreases in symptoms. There was also limited evidence for an association between first episode psychosis and reductions in vitamin C.
"Although just one of many factors, it is important to recognize that nutritional deficiencies could certainly be contributing to the poor physical and mental health outcomes often observed in young people with psychosis," Dr Firth observed. "Our research has found vitamin D and folate deficiencies, previously observed in long-term schizophrenia, exist right from illness onset, and are associated with worse symptoms among young people with psychosis. Since both of these nutrients are vital for physical and psychological wellbeing, this finding emphasizes the importance of promoting a healthy diet for young people with psychosis, and potentially suggests adding targeted nutritional supplementation to standard treatment could improve recovery - although this theory has yet to be tested."
"While the results of our data analysis reveal that nutrient deficiencies are endemic in people suffering from first-episode psychosis, further work is needed to determine whether this is a by-product of the disorder, an effect from psychiatric medications, or whether lifestyle factors are to blame," senior author Jerome Sarris added.