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.
TMG could hold promise for schizophrenia symptoms
June 28 2019. Research reported on June 26, 2019 in EBioMedicine provides evidence for the use of trimethylglycine (TMG, or betaine) to help alleviate some of the distressing symptoms experienced by people with schizophrenia. Trimethylglycine is an amino acid derivative that occurs in foods such as beets and is also made in the human body.
Acting on the knowledge of decreased levels of TMG in the plasma of schizophrenia patients, researchers at the RIKEN Center for Brain Science investigated TMG’s effects in mice. They found that animals that lacked the Chdh gene (which is involved in the production of TMG) had significantly lower TMG levels in their blood and brains than those with intact Chdh genes and exhibited depression-associated behaviors. Supplementing the drinking water of mice with the compound resulted in higher brain levels, demonstrating that TMG can penetrate the blood-brain barrier.
When mice were given mind-altering drugs that elicit schizophrenic behavior in humans, TMG alleviated cognitive and behavioral effects and reversed oxidative stress, which is believed to be one of the mechanisms through which the drugs cause psychiatric symptoms. "We suggest that one of betaine's functions is to promote antioxidant activity in the metabolic cycles in which it participates," commented senior author Takeo Yoshikawa.
TMG levels were observed to be reduced in postmortem brains of humans with schizophrenia, regardless of whether the patients had received antipsychotic drugs. Some brains exhibited betaine-deficit oxidative stress, which was associated with severe psychotic symptoms. When the condition was replicated in stem cells, the researchers counteracted it by administering TMG.
The team furthermore identified a gene variant that predicts betaine’s efficacy as a treatment. Since TMG is already in use as a therapy for homocystinuria, it could be more readily considered as a treatment for psychiatric disorders since there would be less of a concern for safety than would otherwise be associated with a new therapy.
Hippocrates may’ve been right (in part)
June 26 2019. The statement “All diseases begin in the gut,” attributed to Hippocrates, could gain more credence with the recent slew of publications documenting the role—good or bad--of intestinal micro-organisms in a variety of ailments. And while all diseases may not begin in the gut, new research has shown that at least one important one may.
Parkinson’s disease is characterized by misfolded alpha-synuclein proteins and the destruction of dopamine-producing neurons in a midbrain structure known as the substantia nigra pars compacta. In 2003, it was suggested that misfolded alpha-synuclein can travel to this area from the gastrointestinal tract by way of the vagus nerve.
For the current study, Ted Dawson and colleagues injected mouse alpha-synuclein fibrils into gastrointestinal muscles that connect to the vagus nerve. One month later, pathologic alpha-synuclein had spread to the animals’ brainstem and within three months, it had traveled to the locus coeruleus, substantia nigra, amygdala, hypothalamus and prefrontal cortex. At seven months, the alpha-synuclein had spread to the hippocampus, olfactory bulb and striatum, accompanied by a loss of dopamine-producing neurons in the striatum and substantia nigra. The animals exhibited cognitive deficits and other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. However, mice whose vagal nerve fibers were severed did not experience transmission of alpha-synuclein to the brain, neuronal death or symptoms of the disease.
"There are at least three major implications of the study," Dr Dawson noted. "One: it is likely to galvanize future studies exploring the gut-brain connection. Two: it will spur investigations focused on the factors, molecules, or infections that might start the misfolding and propagation of α-synuclein. And three: it suggests that treatments could be aimed at preventing the spread of pathologic α-synuclein from the gut to brain."
Study finds dietary supplements significantly contribute to nutritional adequacy
June 24 2019. An abstract published in a supplement to the June 2019 issue of Current Developments in Nutrition reported the results of an analysis of participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) which found a greater likeliness of adequate intake of several nutrients among adults who reported using dietary supplements.
The study included 9,474 men and women aged 19 and older who participated in NHANES from 2011-2014. Dietary intake was collected via completion of two 24-hour recall assessments, and 30-day questionnaires reported the subjects’ supplement use.
For men and women, supplements made a substantial contribution toward meeting the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) recommendations for vitamins B6, C, D and K, folate, and the minerals calcium, magnesium and zinc. Nevertheless, about half of the participants were still consuming less than the estimated average requirement for vitamins C, D and K, and magnesium. While total intake of vitamin A, D, and B12, folate and zinc increased with age among both men and women, men were likelier than women to consume less than the estimated average requirement of vitamins C and D, and zinc.
Supplements were the greatest contributor to total vitamin D intake among most age groups. Eighty-four percent of older women reported being vitamin D supplement consumers. Non-Hispanic African Americans and Hispanics had significantly lower intake of vitamin D than Caucasian and Asian Americans, and Non-Hispanic African Americans and Asian Americans had lower total calcium intake. (Both of these nutrients are important for bone maintenance.)
“Adherence to DRI recommendations for nutrient intake differs significantly by sex, race and other demographic characteristics,” conclude authors Alexandra Cowan and colleagues. “Dietary supplements substantially contribute to total intakes for several micronutrients among users; however, many population subgroups continue to be at risk for inadequacy for key nutrients.”
Lower vitamin D levels associated with greater mortality among stroke patients during 4-year follow-up
June 21 2019. A study reported on May 2, 2019 in Disease Markers reveals a lower risk of mortality among stroke patients who did not have severe vitamin D deficiency in comparison with those who were severely deficient.
The study included 240 men and women with ischemic stroke who were admitted to a stroke unit from January 2013 to August 2015. Blood samples collected upon admission were analyzed for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels.
Twenty-four patients died during hospitalization and 79 died during up to 48 months of follow-up. Of the 240 patients, only three had an optimal level of vitamin D. Twenty-five had insufficient levels, 61 had moderate deficiency and 151 were severely deficient, with levels of less than 10 nanograms per milliliter. Among those with severe vitamin D deficiency, the yearly rate of mortality averaged 4.81 in comparison to 1.89 among those without severe deficiency. When the stroke patients were matched with 480 control subjects of a similar age, their vitamin D levels were significantly lower.
“Several observational studies have reported a protective effect of vitamin D on short-term functional outcome of ischemic stroke,” write authors Jarosław Wajda at Regional Specialist Hospital in Rybnik, Poland and colleagues. “Lower vitamin D concentration was also proved to be associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and mortality in the general population; according to our prognostication in this study, effective treatment of 5 persons with severe vitamin D deficiency after stroke may prevent the occurrence of one death or recurrent ischemic stroke.”
“Severe vitamin D deficiency is an emerging, strong negative predictor for survival after ischemic stroke, independent of age and functional status,” they conclude. “Vitamin D supplementation in ischemic stroke survivors may be considered due to high prevalence of its deficiency.”
Blocking cancer treatment-acceleration of tumor growth: a paradigm shift
June 19 2019. An article awarded Editor’s Pick in The Journal of Clinical Investigation for the month of July 2019 revealed that anti-inflammatory treatment, when administered prior to allopathic cancer therapies, can help overcome the promotion of tumor growth generated by these therapies.
"Cancer therapy is a double-edged sword, as dying cancer cells can trigger inflammation and promote the growth of microscopic cancerous cells," explained lead researcher Dipak Panigrahy, MD, of the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. "Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation can all induce the body's inflammatory/immunosuppressive injury response. Even anesthetics can impair the resolution of inflammation."
Dr Panigrahy and his colleagues hypothesized that tumor recurrence or growth of dormant microscopic cancer cells (estimated to exist in more than 30% of healthy people) could be reduced by early blockade of the inflammatory cascade or by resolution of inflammation. In mice that underwent surgical remover of tumors, preoperative administration of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug known as ketorolac and/or the administration of resolvins (which are anti-inflammatory factors produced by the human body) eliminated micrometastases and improved long-term survival. Combining ketorolac and resolvins resulted in a synergistic action that prevented surgery or chemotherapy from stimulating dormant tumor cells to become growing tumors. The researchers found that ketorolac “unleashed” anticancer T cell immunity, which was negated by chemotherapy.
"Collectively, our findings suggest a paradigm shift in clinical approaches to cancers and non-cancer surgery protocols," stated co-senior author Allison Gartung, PhD. "Simultaneously blocking proinflammatory responses with ketorolac and activating endogenous resolution programs via resolvins may represent a novel approach for preventing systemic recurrence in the context of locoregional disease. Clinical trials are now urgently needed to validate these animal studies."
Vitamin D, estradiol deficiencies associated with metabolic syndrome risk
June 17 2019. A study reported on June 12, 2019 in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) found that having sufficient levels of vitamin D and the form of estrogen known as estradiol could help lower the risk of metabolic syndrome, a group of symptoms whose presence is associated with an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The study included 616 postmenopausal Chinese women between the ages of 49 to 86 years who were not receiving estrogen replacement therapy or vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D and estradiol levels were found to be correlated, and higher vitamin D levels were associated with favorable blood pressure, glucose levels and lipid levels. Higher estradiol levels were also associated with reduced blood pressure, as well as lower cholesterol and triglycerides. Women who were deficient in vitamin D had more than twice the risk of metabolic syndrome compared with those who had sufficient levels. Subsequent analysis determined that the presence of low estradiol levels was associated with a further increase in the risk of metabolic syndrome among vitamin D deficient subjects. “These results suggest a synergistic role of vitamin D and estradiol deficiency in metabolic syndrome in Chinese postmenopausal women,” authors Hui Huang, MD, and colleagues conclude.
"In this cross-sectional study, low estradiol increased the risk of metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women who had vitamin D deficiency," commented Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, who is the executive director of the North American Menopause Society. "The Endocrine Society recommends vitamin D levels of 30 nanograms/milliliter for postmenopausal women. Whether adequate levels of vitamin D improve nonskeletal cardiovascular or cognitive benefits remains the subject of debate, and answers await randomized clinical trial data."
Enzyme that boosts NAD+ extends life span of mice
June 14 2019. An enzyme known as eNAMPT that declines in the blood during aging has been found to extend the life span of older mice. The research was reported on June 13, 2019 in Cell Metabolism.
eNAMPT is involved in the production of NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), a coenzyme that occurs in all living cells. Nicotinamide riboside and nicotinamide mononucleotide also increase NAD+ levels and have been associated with positive effects. "We think the body has so many redundant systems to maintain proper NAD levels because it is so important," commented senior author Shin-ichiro Imai, MD, PhD, of Washington University. "Our work and others' suggest it governs how long we live and how healthy we remain as we age. Since we know that NAD inevitably declines with age, whether in worms, fruit flies, mice or people, many researchers are interested in finding antiaging interventions that might maintain NAD levels as we get older."
When given to old mice, eNAMPT was associated with a decrease in age-related decline and an extension of life span of approximately 16% compared to saline-treated animals. "We were surprised by the dramatic differences between the old mice that received the eNAMPT of young mice and old mice that received saline as a control," Dr Imai remarked. "These are old mice with no special genetic modifications, and when supplemented with eNAMPT, their wheel-running behaviors, sleep patterns and physical appearance -- thicker, shinier fur, for example -- resemble that of young mice."
The researchers observed a correlation between blood eNAMPT levels and the number of days the mice survived. While animals that received saline lived as long as 881 days, one mouse that received eNAMPT was still alive at 1,029 days.
Vitamin K may help rather than harm people using blood thinner
June 12 2019. Findings from a trial presented on June 11, 2019 at the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition suggest that vitamin K, which patients using the anticoagulant medication warfarin are recommended to avoid, may actually help stabilize anticoagulation.
Vitamin K is involved in blood clotting and other functions. The vitamin occurs in green vegetables, where it plays a role in photosynthesis. While these foods have health-promoting properties, people at risk of blood clots who have been prescribed warfarin (a drug that works by antagonizing vitamin K) have been advised not to consume them.
Warfarin is commonly prescribed to prevent blood clots that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Because the risk of clots needs to be weighed against the risk of uncontrolled bleeding, achieving the right dosage can be challenging. “Anticoagulation stability is often a challenge due to the narrow therapeutic range of the drug,” write Guylaine Ferland, PhD, and colleagues. “In trials, patients receiving small doses of supplemental vitamin K (100-150 micrograms per day) spend significantly more time in the therapeutic range and present fewer bleeding and thrombotic complications.”
The trial included 46 patients treated with warfarin who had a history of anticoagulation instability. Half of the group received advice to increase vitamin K in their diets by 150 micrograms per day while the remainder received general nutritional counseling.
Consuming more vitamin K intake resulted in a greater percentage of patients with stable anticoagulation levels compared to the control group. While half of the patients from the vitamin K group achieved the targeted therapeutic range, 19% of the control group met this goal.
"I think all warfarin-treated patients would benefit from increasing their daily vitamin K intake,” Dr Ferland stated. "That said, given the direct interaction between dietary vitamin K and the action of the drug, it is important that (higher) daily vitamin K intakes be as consistent as possible."
Nutrient insufficiencies associated with poor sleep
June 10 2019. A study reported on June 9, 2019 at Nutrition 2019, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, found an association between decreased intake of several nutrients and a greater risk of insufficient sleep.
Chioma Ikonte and colleagues analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 2005-2016), which enrolled men and women residing in the U.S. Among subjects 19 years of age and older, 32.7% experienced short sleep, 27.7% had trouble sleeping, 47.3% had poor sleep quality, 8.94 % were affected by a sleep disorder, 15.1% reported insomnia, 37.9% had increased sleep latency (the amount of time it takes to fall asleep) and 9.3% used sleep medications more than five times during the month prior to reporting the data.
Sleeping less than an average of seven hours per night was associated with a lower intake of vitamins A, B1, B3 and D, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. The number of nutrients associated with poor sleep was higher among women than men; however, this number was reduced if the women used dietary supplements. The study’s results suggested that some nutrients may also play a role in trouble falling asleep, poor sleep quality and sleep disorders.
"This work adds to the body of growing evidence associating specific nutrient intakes with sleep outcomes," Dr Ikonte stated. "Our findings suggest that individuals with short sleep duration might benefit from improving their intake of these nutrients through diet and supplementation."
"Whether chronic short sleep causes nutrient insufficiency or the nutrient insufficiency causes short sleep still needs to be determined," Dr Ikonte added. "A clinical study that investigates [impacts of] supplementation with these nutrients on sleep outcomes is needed to demonstrate cause and effect."
People living at high latitude with low vitamin D levels likelier to have metabolic syndrome than those with sufficient levels
June 07 2019. A report appearing on May 30, 2019 in Nutrients documents an association between vitamin D insufficiency and metabolic syndrome among Finnish subjects residing at a high latitude. Metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms that predispose people to diabetes and cardiovascular disease, is defined by the presence of three or more factors that include increased fasting plasma glucose, abdominal obesity, high triglyceride levels, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and high blood pressure.
“Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to the increased risk of several chronic diseases, especially in people living in the northern latitudes,” write Shivaprakash Jagalur Mutt and colleagues. “The aim of this study was to assess the vitamin D status in older subjects born in 1945 in Northern Finland (latitude 65 north), and to examine its associations to components of metabolic syndrome.”
Vitamin D levels and the use of vitamin D supplements were assessed among 263 men and 373 women whose age averaged 69 years. Subjects were diagnosed with metabolic syndrome if they exhibited abdominal obesity plus two other symptoms of the disorder.
Forty-one percent of those with metabolic syndrome had low levels (defined as less than 30 ng/mL) of vitamin D in comparison with 38% of subjects who did not have metabolic syndrome. Participants who reported supplementing with vitamin D had a 42.6% incidence of metabolic syndrome in comparison with 57.4 % among those who did not supplement.
“Subjects with vitamin D supplementation had less components of metabolic syndrome (obesity, insulin resistance, and hypertension),” the authors reported. “Our data suggests that older subjects living in Northern Europe stand to benefit from higher serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels, and thus, vitamin D supplementation is highly recommended.”
Vitamin D supplementation associated with longer lifespan among cancer patients
June 05 2019. Results from a meta-analysis reported on June 3, 2019 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology revealed improved survival among cancer patients who supplemented with vitamin D. The study’s abstract was published on May 26, 2019 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
“In the United States cancer is the second leading cause of mortality, as such, primary prevention of cancer is a major public health concern,” write authors Varun Samji and colleagues at Michigan State University. “Vitamin D supplementation has been studied as a primary prevention method for multiple diseases including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes mellitus and cancer.”
The researchers selected ten randomized controlled trials that included a total of 79,055 cancer patients for their analysis. Trials compared the effects of at least three years of vitamin D supplementation to a placebo on cancer incidence and mortality. The analysis showed that vitamin D supplementation was associated with a 13% lower risk of dying from cancer in comparison with receiving a placebo.
"Vitamin D had a significant effect on lowering the risk of death among those with cancer," reported co-lead author Tarek Haykal, who is an internal medicine resident physician at Michigan State University and Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan. "The difference in the mortality rate between the vitamin D and placebo groups was statistically significant enough that it showed just how important it might be among the cancer population."
"There are still many questions and more research is needed,” he noted. “All we can say is that at least three years of taking the supplement is required to see any effect.""We know it carries benefits with minimal side effects,” Dr Haykal added. "There's plenty of potential here."
Omega-3 promotes amyloid-beta clearance in brains of Alzheimer’s mice
June 03 2019. Research reported on May 24, 2019 in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity revealed that supplementation with fish oil, a source of omega-3 fatty acids, enhanced the clearance of amyloid-beta from the brains of mice bred to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Amyloid-beta is a sticky substance that aggregates into plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients. These plaques are toxic to neurons, which results in damage that impairs memory and other mental processes. “Accumulating evidence suggests that the imbalance between amyloid-beta production and clearance leads to extracellular amyloid-beta accumulation in the brain,” write Lingli Yan of the University of Macau in China and colleagues. “It is reported that the blood–brain barrier (BBB) transport plays a predominant role in amyloid-beta clearance from brain to blood.”
By studying a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, Dr Yan and associates observed a reduction in LRP-1, the main efflux transporter of the blood-brain barrier, beginning at four months of age. In these mice, supplementation with omega-3-rich fish oil resulted in enhanced expression of LRP-1 and greater clearance of amyloid-beta from the brain into circulation, as indicated by reduced brain amyloid-beta levels and plaques and an increase in plasma levels of the protein. Fish oil supplementation was associated with inhibition of the activation of nuclear factor-kappa beta, which is involved in inflammation, and reduced expression of other inflammatory factors, including tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a) and interleukin-1beta.
“The results of the study provide evidence that blood-brain barrier transport function could be impaired at a very early disease stage, which might contribute to amyloid-beta pathological accumulation in Alzheimer’s disease, and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intervention could be an effective strategy for the prevention of the progression of Alzheimer’s disease through promoting amyloid-beta clearance from brain-to-blood,” the authors conclude.