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.
Occupational asthma sufferers may need more vitamin D
December 31, 2018. A study reported in 2018 in Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders – Drug Targets concluded that people with occupational asthma may have a need for a greater intake of vitamin D. Asthma related to job exposure is a common occurrence and can continue even after the sufferer is no longer exposed to the conditions that triggered the disease.
The current investigation included 31 men and women with mild to severe asthma who were admitted to the Occupational Medicine Clinic of Colentina Clinical Hospital in Romania. Eighteen participants had asthma induced by irritants that included exposure to fluoride compounds or fumes and gases, and 13 participants had asthma caused by allergies to flour, textiles, pollens, plants, latex, formaldehyde, detergents, wood and wood varnishes and solvents.
The subjects’ health status perception was evaluated with questionnaires that scored symptoms, activity and impact. Dietary questionnaires provided information concerning vitamin D intake.
The participants’ vitamin D intake averaged 35% of the modest national recommended intake of 600 international units. Average vitamin D intake was greater among those with mild asthma compared to those with severe disease. Among those with irritant-induced asthma, having a higher body mass index was correlated with lower vital capacity (a measure of lung function) and was associated a greater impact score of the health questionnaire, while among allergy-induced asthmatics, higher vitamin D levels had an association with a decrease in symptoms.
“Reduced vitamin D intake in both irritant and allergic occupational asthma, either in obese or in non-obese patients has been found with different influences on symptoms score, according to the type of occupational asthma,” authors Ruxandra Otelea and Agripina Rascu conclude. “These findings support the need for workplace nutritional assessment and interventions not only for the obesity burden but also for occupational asthma incidence reduction.”
Meta-analysis concludes benefits for CoQ10 in chronic kidney disease
December 28, 2018. A review and meta-analysis appearing November 11, 2018 in Current Pharmaceutical Design foundseveral metabolic benefits for supplementation with the antioxidant coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) by individuals with chronic kidney disease.
“Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is associated with an increased prevalence of all-cause mortality, diabetic nephropathy, cardiovascular events and hospitalization, regardless of existing risk factors and a history of Cardiovascular Disease,” write authors Marzieh Bakhshayeshkaram and colleagues in their introduction. “Increased biomarkers of oxidative stress in these patients has been identified as a major contributor to the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular disease in this population.”
Researchers at Shiraz University of Medical Sciences selected seven randomized, controlled trials that included a total of 384 men and women with chronic kidney disease for the meta-analysis. Metabolic profiles evaluated during the trials included measurements of triglycerides, total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, glucose, insulin, insulin resistance, C-reactive protein, malondialdehyde (a marker of oxidative stress) and creatinine (which is elevated in kidney disease). The dosage of CoQ10 in the trials ranged from 30 milligrams (mg) to 200 mg administered for periods of 4 to 12 weeks.
Pooled analysis of the trials’ subjects determined that CoQ10 supplementation was associated with a decrease in total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, malondialdehyde and creatinine.
“To our best knowledge, this is the first meta-analysis of RCTs determines the effect of CoQ10 supplementation on metabolic profiles of patients diagnosed with CKD,” the authors announced “Additional prospective studies are necessary to confirm the effects of CoQ10 supplementation on other metabolic profiles in these patients.”
Higher nutrient levels associated with better brain connectivity, function
December 21, 2018. The March 2019 issue of NeuroImage published findings from researchers at the University of Illinois of an association between higher plasma levels of specific nutrients and improved brain connectivity and cognitive performance in older individuals.
The study included 116 participants aged 65 and 75 years. Plasma samples collected from the subjects were analyzed for 32 nutrients that are present in significant amounts in a Mediterranean diet. Subjects underwent tests of general intelligence, executive function and memory. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain assessed brain network efficiency within seven connectivity networks.
"The basic question we were asking was whether diet and nutrition are associated with healthy brain aging," stated senior author Aron K. Barbey, of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. "And instead of inferring brain health from a cognitive test, we directly examined the brain using high-resolution brain imaging."
Nutrient biomarker patterns associated with better cognitive performance included omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 plus omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, carotenoids, lycopene, and vitamins that included B2, B12, D, and folate. Higher omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids and carotene were associated with enhanced functional brain network efficiency.
"Efficiency has to do with how information is communicated within the network," Dr. Barbey explained. "We looked at 'local efficiency' - how well information is shared within a spatially confined set of brain regions - and also 'global efficiency,' which reflects how many steps are required to transfer information from any one region to any other region in the network.
"Our study suggests that diet and nutrition moderate the association between network efficiency and cognitive performance," Dr. Barbey concluded. "This means that the strength of the association between functional brain network efficiency and cognitive performance is associated with the level of the nutrients."
Resveratrol prevents cognitive deficits in experimental vascular dementia
December 19, 2018. An article appearing online on December 12, 2018 in the journal Physiology & Behavior reported the finding of researchers at Kocaeli University in Turkey of a protective effect for resveratrol against cognitive deficits associated with diabetes-induced vascular dementia in rats.
“Diabetes is one of the risk factors for the development of vascular dementia, leading to endothelial dysfunction and cognitive impairment,” note authors Semil Selcen Gocmez and colleagues. “Resveratrol has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects.”
“In the present study we aimed to evaluate the effect of resveratrol on cognitive and vascular endothelial function and to explore the mechanisms of its effects in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rat model of vascular dementia.”
The study included 20 rats with induced diabetes and 10 control rats that did not have diabetes. Ten diabetic rats received resveratrol for a period of four weeks after the disease was induced. At the end of the four-week period, all animals underwent tests of cognitive function followed by evaluation of thoracic aorta endothelial function.
Severe learning and memory deficits were associated with endothelial dysfunction in untreated diabetic rats. However, animals that received resveratrol exhibited less cognitive decline and vascular reactivity impairment. The increase in the proinflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a) and interleukin-1 beta (IL-1b) and markers of oxidative stress that occurred in untreated diabetic rats was reduced in resveratrol-treated animals. Treatment with resveratrol was also protective against the decrease in the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the brain’s hippocampus that occurred in untreated diabetic rats.
“Thus, the vasculoprotective and neuroprotective effects of resveratrol may be beneficial in diabetes melliltus patients,” the authors conclude.
Folate supplements not just for pregnant women
December 17, 2018. Research reported on December 3, 2018 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has revealed more benefits for folate, a member of the B complex of vitamins that is recommended for women during their reproductive years to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in their children.
By studying an area of the genome known as FRAXA in white blood cells obtained from men, associate professor Ying Liu and colleagues at the University of Copenhagen uncovered cell division abnormalities in association with folate deficiency that included faulty chromosome segregation. They also observed instability of the X chromosome (contributed by the mother) during long periods of deficiency. “In the study, we demonstrate that folate deficiency leads to both higher levels of and more harmful chromosome abnormalities than previously known,” Dr. Liu stated. “This causes the daughter cells to inherit the incorrect amount of DNA following cell division or, in some cases, to even lose an entire chromosome. This could explain why folate deficiency is associated with diseases like infertility, mental health disorders and cancer.”
“The problem with folate deficiency is that it affects chromosome maintenance, and once a cell has lost a chromosome or part of it, it can never be fixed,” Professor Liu warned. “That is, once cell division has gone wrong, you cannot fix it subsequently by consuming a lot of folic acid. Once the damage is done, it is irreversible.”
“Therefore, we need a guide telling us what the level of folate in the blood in the population in general should be,” Dr Liu concluded. “Once we have that knowledge, we can determine whether a person needs folic acid supplements to make sure the level in the blood is high enough for the cells to reproduce the DNA successfully.”
CoQ10 improves antioxidant defenses, insulin sensitivity in clinical trial
December 14, 2018. Results from a randomized trial reported in the October 2018 issue of the Journal of Research in Medical Sciencesrevealed improvements in total antioxidant capacity, insulin sensitivity and fasting blood glucose in women with type 2 diabetes who were given coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).
"Coenzyme Q10 is an important micronutrient that plays a central role in mitochondrial electron transport chain and protects the body from damage by reactive oxygen species (ROS)," note Parvin Zarei and colleagues at Arak University of Medical Sciences in Iran in their introduction.
Thirty-four women with diabetes received 100 milligrams CoQ10 and an equal number of diabetic women received a placebo daily for 12 weeks. Blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, and levels of serum alpha-amylase (a digestive enzyme), adenosine deaminase (whose activity is increased in diabetes and metabolic syndrome), CoQ10, catalase (an antioxidant made in the body), total antioxidant capacity and the quantitative insulin sensitivity check index (QUICKI) were assessed at the beginning and end of the treatment period.
At the end of the trial, systolic and diastolic blood pressure were significantly lower among participants who received CoQ10 in comparison with measurements obtained at the beginning of the intervention. While blood glucose decreased in the CoQ10-supplemented group, serum CoQ10, total antioxidant capacity, catalase activity and insulin sensitivity increased. CoQ10, total antioxidant capacity and catalase activity were also higher in supplemented subjects in comparison with the placebo group.
"The results of the current study showed that daily supplementation with 100 mg of CoQ10 for 12 weeks in women with type 2 diabetes mellitus could cause a significant increase in values of catalase, total antioxidant capacity, and QUICKI and a significant decrease in fasting blood sugar levels which could reinforce the antioxidant defense system and improve insulin sensitivity," the authors conclude.
Coffee compounds could slow brain degeneration
December 12, 2018. Drinking coffee has been linked with a decrease in the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. An article appearing on December 3, 2018 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences could help explain it.
Researchers at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School report the ability of two compounds occurring in coffee to help prevent the accumulation of harmful proteins associated with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia, the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. “Hyperphosphorylated alpha-synuclein in Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites is a characteristic neuropathological feature of Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies,” write M. Maral Mouradian and colleagues. “The present study was carried out to test the potential synergy between eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide [EHT, found in coffee beans’ coating] and caffeine in protecting against alpha-synuclein−mediated pathology in two mouse models.”
While EHT or caffeine alone were not effective, administering them together increased the activity of PP2A, which helps prevent the accumulation of alpha-synuclein. PP2A is dysregulated in the brains of those with Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Greater PP2A activity was reflected in improved behavioral performance in both mouse models.
"EHT is a compound found in various types of coffee but the amount varies,” noted Dr. Mouradian, who is the director of the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Institute for Neurological Therapeutics. “It is important that the appropriate amount and ratio be determined so people don't over-caffeinate themselves, as that can have negative health consequences.”
“As we begin to unravel the polypharmacology of the micronutrients in commonly consumed botanical extracts such as coffee, it seems likely that it will be possible to optimize their composition to enhance efficacy so as to provide widely available, inexpensive, and effective therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases,” the authors conclude.
Plant oils could combat persistent Lyme disease infection
December 10, 2018. Research reported on October 16, 2018 in the journal Antibiotics revealed a potential role for oils derived from six plants against persistent Lyme (B. burgdorferi) infections that are tolerant to antibiotics used to treat the disease.
“While the majority of the Lyme disease patients can be cured with 2–4 weeks antibiotic treatment, about 10–20% of patients continue to suffer from persisting symptoms,” write Jie Feng of Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and colleagues. “It has recently been shown that B. burgdorferi develops dormant persisters in stationary phase cultures that are not killed by the current Lyme antibiotics, and there is interest in identifying novel drug candidates that more effectively kill such forms.”
Acting on the findings of previous research which found that essential oils of oregano, cinnamon bark, clove buds, citronella and wintergreen had stronger activity against stationary phase Lyme bacteria than the antibiotic found to be the most effective against persistent infections, the researchers screened 35 additional plant oils. They identified 10 oils, including those from garlic cloves, myrrh trees, thyme leaves, cinnamon bark, allspice berries and cumin seeds, that had significant activity against dormant and slow-growing forms of Lyme bacteria. In subculture studies using concentrations of just 0.1%, oils of garlic, allspice, myrrh, Hedychium spicatum flowers, and Litsea cubeba fruits completely eradicated all Lyme stationary phase cells.
"We found that these essential oils were even better at killing the persister forms of Lyme bacteria than standard Lyme antibiotics," commented study senior author Ying Zhang, MD, PhD, who is a professor at the Bloomberg School of Medicine’s Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. "At this stage these essential oils look very promising as candidate treatments for persistent Lyme infection, but ultimately we need properly designed clinical trials.”
Could vitamin D deficiency cause schizophrenia?
December 7, 2018. An association between being deficient in vitamin D during infancy and the risk of developing schizophrenia later in life was revealed on December 6, 2018 in the journal Scientific Reports.
"Much of the attention in schizophrenia research has been focused on modifiable factors early in life with the goal of reducing the burden of this disease,” noted lead researcher John McGrath of Aarhus University and the University of Queensland. “Previous research identified an increased risk of schizophrenia associated with being born in winter or spring and living in a high-latitude country, such as Denmark."
"We hypothesized that low vitamin D levels in pregnant women due to a lack of sun exposure during winter months might underlie this risk and investigated the association between vitamin D deficiency and risk of schizophrenia."
Vitamin D levels measured in blood samples collected during the infancy of 2,602 Danish schizophrenic young adults were compared to levels measured in blood collected from gender-matched individuals with the same date of birth who did not develop the disease.
"As the developing fetus is totally reliant on mother's vitamin D stores, our findings suggest that ensuring pregnant women have adequate levels of vitamin D may result in the prevention of some schizophrenia cases, in a manner comparable to the role folate supplementation has played in the prevention of spina bifida," Dr. McGrath stated. "The next step is to conduct randomized clinical trials of vitamin D supplements in pregnant women who are vitamin D deficient, in order to examine the impact on child brain development and risk of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia."
Depressed individuals may need vitamin D
December 5, 2018. On November 20, 2018, The Journal of the American Medical Directors Association (JAMDA) published the results of a study conducted by researchers at Trinity College in Dublin, which revealed a 75% increase in the risk of depression during a four-year follow up period among individuals with deficient levels of vitamin D.
The investigation included nearly 3,965 participants aged 50 years and older in the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging. Blood levels of vitamin D were measured upon enrollment and the presence of depression was evaluated at two and four years.
Being deficient in vitamin D, defined as having a level of less than 12 nanograms per milliliter, was associated with a 75% greater risk of developing depression during follow-up than having nondeficient levels.
"This is the largest representative and most comprehensive study of depression risk and vitamin D status in older adults ever conducted in Ireland,” announced first author Robert Briggs of St James' Hospital in Dublin. “Our findings will provide useful information to help inform public health policy - particularly regarding the proposition of the usefulness of vitamin D treatment/supplementation for depression."
"Given that vitamin D is safe in the recommended intakes and is relatively cheap, this study adds to the growing evidence on the benefits of vitamin D for health,” noted senior author Eamon Laird, PhD. “It also helps to continue to impress the need on our public health bodies to develop Irish vitamin D recommendations for the general public. Up to this point, these are severely lacking."
"It is our responsibility to now ascertain whether supplementation will influence depression,” added coauthor Rose Anne Kenny, MD. “There are many reasons for vitamin D supplementation in Ireland. Benefits to something as disabling and often 'silent' as depression are therefore important for wellbeing as we age."
Curcumin could improve exercise tolerance in heart failure patients
December 3, 2018. In an article published on November 21, 2018 in the Journal of Applied Physiology, University of Nebraska Medical Center researchers reported the outcome of a study which suggests that curcumin, a compound occurring in the spice turmeric, could help heart failure patients with exercise intolerance.
“We hypothesized that reduced expression of nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) in skeletal muscle contributes to impaired exercise performance,” explain Ahmed M. Wafi and colleagues. “We further hypothesized that curcumin, a Nrf2 activator, would preserve or increase exercise capacity in heart failure.”
“Although curcumin has been evaluated in several clinical trials for multiple diseases, its therapeutic potential on skeletal muscle dysfunction in the heart failure with reduced ejection fraction state has not been tested in animal models or in patients,” they noted.
Using a mouse model of heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, the researchers gave one group of animals curcumin daily for 12 weeks while another group received no curcumin. Additional groups of healthy mice received the same regimens. Exercise capacity, muscle function and enzyme expression in muscle fiber samples were examined in all four groups before and after treatment.
Curcumin-treated mice with heart failure experienced improvement in exercise capacity, muscle function, Nrf2 activation, and levels of the antioxidant enzymes heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) and superoxide dismutase (SOD)2. Curcumin also upregulated Nrf2, HO-1, and SOD2 expression in mice that did not have heart failure, which suggests that curcumin enhances antioxidant defenses even in healthy muscle.
“In the present study, we demonstrated that eight weeks of curcumin treatment improved exercise performance, increased whole body pulling tension, and ameliorated the skeletal myopathy in mice with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, suggesting a potential application of curcumin in skeletal muscle dysfunction associated with heart failure,” the authors concluded.