What's Hot

What's Hot

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.

 

  • Could selenium provide the brain benefits of exercise?
  • Herb extends life by 40% in roundworms
  • Melatonin supplementation associated with improved heart failure outcomes
  • Microbiome changes could underlie nicotinamide riboside’s ability to protect against weight gain
  • Majority of survey respondents supported greater FDA transparency
  • Mortality lower during five-year period among adults who supplemented with calcium plus vitamin D
  • Alpha-lipoic acid supplementation associated with improved lipid levels
  • How does calorie restriction affect immune health?
  • How sleep extension can support healthy weight
  • It’s never too late to eat healthy
  • Healthy lifestyle equals bigger brain
  • Higher magnesium levels linked to lower risk of Alzheimer disease
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    Could selenium provide the brain benefits of exercise?

    Could selenium provide the brain benefits of exercise? February 28 2022. Findings reported in Cell Metabolism revealed a role for selenium in the process by which exercise increases the formation of new neurons (neurogenesis) in the brain’s hippocampus.

    The hippocampus is important for memory and its dentate gyrus region is one of the brain’s neural stem cell niches. Neural stem cells can divide to produce more stem cells or differentiate to become more specialized cells, including neural progenitor cells. Both neural stem and progenitor cells are known as neural precursor cells.

    By analyzing blood plasma from mice given access to exercise and those that were not, researchers observed that an antioxidant selenium transport protein known as selenoprotein P was among the most upregulated proteins in exercising mice in comparison with nonexercising mice.

    Treating neural precursor cells with selenium caused the cells to proliferate. In another experiment, normal mice and mice that were genetically modified to lack selenoprotein P and its receptor were given access to exercise for 7 days. Although the animals ran similar distances each night, mice that lacked selenoprotein P and its receptor did not undergo increased neural precursor cell proliferation in response to exercise, even though they had similar levels of proliferation at the beginning of the experiment.

    The team concluded that selenoprotein P and its receptor are needed for exercise to increase hippocampal neurogenesis. Other experiments found that selenium supplementation restored neurogenesis and reversed cognitive decline in aging mice or mice with hippocampal injury.

    “The identification of the mechanism underlying the exercise-induced increase in adult neurogenesis could facilitate the discovery of novel therapeutic interventions (including dietary selenium supplementation), which could be used to mimic the beneficial effects of exercise on cognitive function,” the authors concluded. “This is particularly important for the treatment of individuals who are unable to exercise.”

     

    —D Dye

     

    Herb extends life by 40% in roundworms

    Herb extends life by 40% in roundworms February 25 2022. Research reported on February 15, 2022 in the Journals of Gerontology® Series A revealed a longer life span among Caenorhabditis elegans roundworms given an extract of the leaves of Artemisia scoparia.

    By giving varying doses of Artemisia scoparia extract to C. elegans, Adam Bohnert, PhD, and colleagues at Louisiana State University found that the highest and second-highest dose resulted in nearly immediate improvement in metabolic health. Treated worms were healthier and better able to withstand stress and survived up to 40% longer than untreated control worms.

    The herb, which was previously shown to increase the storage of unsaturated fat in mice, was also associated with increased fat storage in C. elegans. It was determined that the extract aided the conversion of unhealthy fat stores to healthy ones. “Usually people think of fat as ‘bad,’ but in these cases, it seems good, and actually pro-longevity,” Dr Bohnert remarked. “Artemisia scoparia could have some exciting potential as a dietary supplement.”

    “Also, the simple fact that an organism is short, fat and slow-moving does not necessarily qualify it as in poor health,” added Bhaswati Gosh, of Dr Bohnert’s lab. “These phenotypes must be considered in the full context of other parameters.”

    “Until recently, it wasn’t really known how aging could be modified through diet, or how core metabolic signaling pathways influence longevity,” Dr Bohnert commented. “What we’ve been able to show is that a natural extract can come in and influence these pathways in much the same way a genetic mutation would.”

    “Importantly, it gives us a therapeutic standpoint,” he added. “We know age is the primary risk factor for many diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease, but if you think of aging as a treatable disease, you can actually treat many diseases at once.”

     

    —D Dye

     

    Melatonin supplementation associated with improved heart failure outcomes

    Melatonin supplementation associated with improved heart failure outcomes February 23 2022. A trial reported on February 16, 2022 in Clinical Cardiology found improvements in N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-Pro BNP, a prohormone released by the heart that, when elevated, may be an indicator of heart failure) among heart failure patients who received supplements that contained melatonin. The trial also uncovered better quality of life and composite clinical outcomes in association with melatonin supplementation.

    “Melatonin is mainly secreted by the pineal gland with the primary role of coordinating the circadian rhythm,” authors Shervin G. Hoseini, MD, PhD, and colleagues of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences wrote. “Recently, it has been shown that melatonin has beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system by its cytoprotective [cell protective] and antioxidant properties and by ameliorating mitochondrial dysfunction and regulating the endocrine system.”

    Eighty-five patients diagnosed with stable heart failure with reduced ejection fraction received 10 milligrams melatonin or a placebo nightly for 24 weeks. Echocardiography was conducted and composite clinical outcome, psychological factors and blood levels of NT-Pro BNP and other factors were assessed at the beginning and end of the trial.

    NT-pro BNP levels averaged 319 nanograms per liter (ng/L) in the melatonin-supplemented group and 318 ng/L in the placebo group at the beginning of the trial. At the trial’s conclusion, participants who received melatonin had NT-pro BNP levels of 221.1 ng/L while levels averaged 332.1 ng/L among those who were given a placebo. Melatonin-supplemented participants also experienced significant improvements in clinical outcome, quality of life and New York Heart Association classification of heart failure compared to the placebo group.

    “Overall, melatonin might lower serum NT-Pro BNP and improve disease-specific health-related quality of life in patients with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction,” the authors concluded. “Thus, it could be a valuable supplement for these patients.”

     

    —D Dye

     

    Microbiome changes could underlie nicotinamide riboside’s ability to protect against weight gain

    Microbiome changes could underlie nicotinamide riboside’s ability to protect against weight gain February 21 2022. The January/February 2022 issue of the journal mSystems reported how the vitamin B3 derivative nicotinamide riboside (NR) impacts the gut microbiome and protects against weight gain. NR is a precursor of NAD+, a coenzyme found in all cells that aids in the production of energy.

    “Gut bacteria produce vitamin B3 in the colon and are capable of salvaging and metabolizing vitamin B3 and its derivatives,” wrote Valery V. Lozada-Fernández of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and colleagues. “However, it is unknown how dietary supplementation of NR alters the microbiome and if those alterations contribute to deflection of weight gain.”

    Mice were given diets that were high in fat with or without the addition of NR. NR supplementation resulted in less body mass gain, lower fasting glucose levels and differences in gut microbes, including a greater number of bacteria that produce butyrate.

    Another group of mice given high fat diets received fecal transplants from NR-treated or untreated animals. Compared to mice that received transplants from animals that did not receive the compound, mice that received transplants from NR-supplemented animals had microbiome changes that were similar to those observed in the donor mice and also experienced less weight gain.

    “With obesity and type 2 diabetes at epidemic levels, we need to understand the complex nature of these diseases to design better therapeutics,” the authors remarked. “Understanding how NR affects the gut microbiome and whether NR-conditioned microbiota contributes to weight loss in the host would (i) improve diagnosis and treatments for obesity and other metabolic pathologies, (ii) tailor treatments to satisfy the needs of each individual moving toward the future of precision medicine, and (iii) benefit other scientific fields that currently investigate the effects of NR in other disease pathologies.”

     

    —D Dye

     

    Majority of survey respondents supported greater FDA transparency

    Majority of survey respondents supported greater FDA transparency February 18 2022. Results from a survey published on February 18, 2022 in JAMA Network Open provide evidence of public support for greater transparency at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

    Between June 14 and July 2, 2021, Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and associates conducted a nationally representative survey of 1,035 US adults based on a general population sample provided by the AmeriSpeak Panel of NORC (National Opinion Research Center) at the University of Chicago. Those surveyed were asked about their level of support of concerning ten potential FDA transparency measures.

    Survey responses revealed a high level of support for all measures. Eighty-six percent of participants supported FDA disclosure of reasons medications fail to be approved, 66.7% agreed with release of information concerning medications in development, 77.6% supported disclosure of causes for placing clinical studies on hold and 77.2% agreed with being informed concerning the reasons studies are allowed to resume. Sharing of information concerning pending applications for generic drugs was supported by 71.6% of the respondents, 80.5% agreed with disclosure of reasons medications receive expedited review, 83.2% backed disclosure of the effectiveness of safety programs, and sharing of incidences of correction of misleading information from drug manufacturers had the support of 90.7%. Disclosure of medications that manufacturers have discontinued developing was supported by 67.6% of respondents and 65.9% agreed that the FDA should share their analyses of these medications.

    “Historically, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has considered much of the oversight of

    clinical trials, interactions with companies, and review processes to be confidential,” the authors wrote. “There is broad support in the US population for greater transparency at the FDA.”

     

    —D Dye

     

    Mortality lower during five-year period among adults who supplemented with calcium plus vitamin D

    Mortality lower during five-year period among adults who supplemented with calcium plus vitamin D February 16 2022. A study published in the July-August 2021 issue of the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism found a decrease in fractures and mortality during a 5-year average follow-up period among individuals who regularly supplemented with calcium and vitamin D.

    The study involved participants in a community-based osteoporosis detection program that included women aged 50 and older who had been postmenopausal for five years and men over the age of 55.  Osteoporosis and osteopenia were detected among 2,882 participants, who were subsequently advised to consume 500 mg calcium and 250 IU of vitamin D3 per day. These participants were additionally offered annual injections of 600,000 IU vitamin D3. The current analysis was limited to 2,113 participants among this group who were not treated with prescription drug therapy for severe osteoporosis and who were followed for at least two years.

    Participants were analyzed according to whether they reported regular, irregular or no adherence to their calcium and vitamin D supplement regimen. Among those who supplemented regularly, the risks of experiencing a fracture or death were respectively 73% and 47% lower during the 5-year average follow-up compared to those who failed to adhere to the regimen.

    “On follow‑up, subjects in the calcium and vitamin D supplementation group had significantly lower mortality than those with normal baseline bone mineral density,” the authors noted. “This was a surprise.”

    “Ours is the first large‑scale Indian study to report a reduced number of fractures and reduced mortality with community‑level calcium and vitamin D supplementation,” they announced. “In our program, there was a not only a significant decrease in fractures but also a significant decrease in mortality in those who took regular calcium and vitamin D supplements, compared to those who did not take supplements.”

     

    —D Dye

     

    Alpha-lipoic acid supplementation associated with improved lipid levels

    Alpha-lipoic acid supplementation associated with improved lipid levels February 14 2022. Findings from a systematic review and meta-analysis published on October 4, 2021 in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research indicated that supplementing with alpha-lipoic acid was associated with improvements in total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides.

    Researchers at Tabriz university of Medical Sciences in Iran selected 12 randomized, placebo-controlled trials that evaluated the association between supplementing with alpha-lipoic acid and lipid levels among a total of 548 participants. Analysis of 11 studies that examined the effects of alpha-lipoic acid on total, LDL and HDL cholesterol levels revealed a significant reduction in total and LDL cholesterol and a nonsignificant increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in supplemented individuals in comparison with a placebo. Analysis of all 12 studies (which included data concerning triglycerides) found a significant reduction in triglycerides in association with alpha-lipoic acid. Dose-response analysis found a nonlinear relationship of LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels with alpha-lipoic acid dosage that was dependent upon the duration of treatment.

    In their discussion of the findings, the authors described a number of potential mechanisms for alpha-lipoic acid in lipid control, including an association of alpha-lipoic acid with a decrease in plasma PCSK9, a protein that binds to the LDL receptor. Blocking PCSK9 lowers LDL particle concentrations in the blood.

    “The current meta-analysis is the first comprehensive, dose-responsive and up to date study that evaluated the effects of alpha-lipoic acid administration on lipid profile,” the authors announced. “The current study showed that alpha-lipoic acid supplementation may have positive significant effects on LDL and triglyceride concentrations. So, it can be suggested as an add-on treatment in therapeutic protocol of patients with lipid disorders.”

     

    —D Dye

     

    How does calorie restriction affect immune health?

    How does calorie restriction affect immune health? February 11 2022. Research reported on February 10, 2022 in Science explored the relationship of consuming fewer calories to human immune response and inflammation. “Because we know that chronic low-grade inflammation in humans is a major trigger of many chronic diseases and, therefore, has a negative effect on life span, here we’re asking: what is calorie restriction doing to the immune and metabolic systems and if it is indeed beneficial, how can we harness the endogenous pathways that mimic its effects in humans?” senior author Vishwa Deep Dixit explained.

    The thymus gland produces immune cells known as T cells; however, the gland accumulates fat and produces fewer of these cells during aging, contributing to a decline in immune function. Magnetic resonance imaging of the thymus glands of participants in a calorie restriction study revealed less thymus fat and a greater ability to generate T cells in people who restricted calories for two years compared to the beginning of the study. Participants who did not restrict calories experienced no change. “The fact that this organ can be rejuvenated is, in my view, stunning because there is very little evidence of that happening in humans,” Dr Dixit remarked.

    Although no alterations in gene expression were observed in the T cells of calorie restricted individuals; changes were detected in fat tissue. The team found that expression of the gene that encodes PLA2G7, a protein involved in a mechanism of inflammation, was significantly inhibited by calorie restriction.

    “We found that reducing PLA2G7 in mice yielded benefits that were similar to what we saw with calorie restriction in humans,” lead author Olga Spadaro reported.

    “These findings demonstrate that PLA2G7 is one of the drivers of the effects of calorie restriction,” Dr Dixit concluded. “Identifying these drivers helps us understand how the metabolic system and the immune system talk to each other, which can point us to potential targets that can improve immune function, reduce inflammation, and potentially even enhance healthy lifespan.”

     

    —D Dye

     

    How sleep extension can support healthy weight

    How sleep extension can support healthy weight February 9 2022. A trial reported on February 7, 2022 in JAMA Internal Medicine found that getting more sleep was associated with consuming fewer calories.

    “Over the years, we and others have shown that sleep restriction has an effect on appetite regulation that leads to increased food intake, and thus puts you at risk for weight gain over time,” stated first author Esra Tasali, MD. “More recently, the question that everyone was asking was, ‘Well, if this is what happens with sleep loss, can we extend sleep and reverse some of these adverse outcomes?”

    The trial included 80 men and women aged 21 to 40 years who habitually slept less than 6.5 hours per night. Half of the participants were given counseling concerning sleep hygiene with the aim of extending their sleep duration to 8.5 hours, while a control group received no counseling. “In our study, we only manipulated sleep, and had the participants eat whatever they wanted,” Dr Tasali noted.

    Participants who received sleep hygiene counseling extended their sleep duration by an average of 1.2 hours. Dr Tasali observed that limiting electronic device use before bedtime appeared to be a key factor in influencing sleep behavior.

    During a two-week period, the group that received counseling consumed 155.5 fewer calories per day compared to the beginning of the study and lost an average of 0.48 kilograms, while the control group experienced gains. “Even within just two weeks, we have quantified evidence showing a decrease in caloric intake and a negative energy balance—caloric intake is less than calories burned,” Dr Tasali remarked. “In our earlier work, we understood that sleep is important for appetite regulation. Now we’ve shown that in real life, without making any other lifestyle changes, you can extend your sleep and eat fewer calories.”

     

    —D Dye

     

    It’s never too late to eat healthy

    It’s never too late to eat healthy February 7 2022. In a study reported on November 28, 2021 in the European Journal of Nutrition, men and women over 70 years of age who strengthened their adherence to a Mediterranean diet during a three-year period had improvements in cardiovascular risk factors that were similar to those of a younger group that also improved their adherence.

    The investigation included 2,278 participants in a randomized trial that evaluated the effects of a Mediterranean diet combined with olive oil or nuts on cardiovascular risk factor control among individuals who were at high cardiovascular risk without having cardiovascular disease. A control group of participants were given information concerning a low-fat diet according to American Heart Association guidelines. Questionnaires administered upon enrollment and at yearly follow-up interviews provided information concerning food intake.

    Participants in the current study included a group that was 62 years of age and younger and a second group aged 71 years and older. At the three-year follow-up, both groups assigned to a Mediterranean diet had similar improvements in Mediterranean diet adherence scores compared to the beginning of the study and compared to the low-fat diet group.

    Among both age groups, systolic blood pressure, LDL cholesterol and weight decreased after three years. While diastolic blood pressure increased in the younger group, it decreased among the 71 and older group.

    “As a healthy and high-quality diet, the MedDiet was associated with reduced potency of cardiovascular risk factors to a similar extent in elderly and younger individuals,” Rosa Casas and colleagues concluded. “The take-home message is that we should not miss the opportunity to apply such non-pharmacological measures as the MedDiet, which has high efficacy without adverse effects, to improve the overall health of aged people. It is never too late to change dietary habits to achieve healthy aging.”

     

    —D Dye

     

    Healthy lifestyle equals bigger brain

    Healthy lifestyle equals bigger brain February 4 2022. Research findings scheduled to be reported at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2022 held February 8 to 11, demonstrated that adherence to Life’s Simple 7 lifestyle behaviors is associated with greater brain volume and fewer indicators of damage among middle-aged men and women.

    Life’s Simple 7 were developed by the American Heart Association to identify factors associated with cardiovascular health. They include consuming a healthy diet, being physically active, not smoking, managing weight, and maintaining or achieving healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose.

    The study included 35,914 participants enrolled in the UK Biobank. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain measured brain volume and white matter hyperintensity volume.

    “Reductions in brain volume are associated with aging-related conditions and neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease,” explained Julian N. Acosta, MD, PhD, who is the lead author of the report. “White matter hyperintensities are usually a marker of injury to the brain, and these lesions often accumulate through life in people with diseased blood vessels due to other health conditions such as high blood pressure.”

    Participants with average Life’s Simple 7 scores had 0.86% larger brains and 18% less white matter hyperintensity volume than those who had poor scores. Optimal scores were associated with 2.4% larger brains and 43% less white matter hyperintensity volume.  “The difference in brain volume is very significant, with a 2.4% higher volume among those with optimal Life’s Simple 7 measures, equivalent to a brain that is approximately 7-years younger,” Dr Acosta remarked.

    By scoring the presence of genetic variants that could influence cardiovascular health, the researchers found a correlation between poor scores and white matter hyperintensity volume, but no correlation with brain volume. “While genetic propensity to certain risk factors is important, they are not deterministic,” Dr Acosta observed. “Knowledge and healthy lifestyle habits go a long way in achieving optimal cardiovascular health.”

     

    —D Dye

     

    Higher magnesium levels linked to lower risk of Alzheimer disease

    Higher magnesium levels linked to lower risk of Alzheimer disease February 2 2022. Results from a systematic review and meta-analysis published on January 10, 2022 in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience revealed that Alzheimer disease patients had lower levels of the mineral magnesium compared to healthy individuals.

    “Magnesium plays a critical role in nerve transmission and neuromuscular conduction in nervous system and has a protective effect against excitotoxicity inducing neuronal death,” Ke Du and colleagues at China Medical University in Shenyang explained. “The aim of the present study was to gain additional insights into maintaining an adequate nutritional state for Alzheimer disease prevention or treatment.”

    Dr Du and associates selected 21 studies published from 1991 to 2021 that reported the relationship between serum, plasma or cerebrospinal fluid levels of magnesium and the risk of Alzheimer disease in a total of 2,113 men and women. Among 18 investigations that compared serum or plasma magnesium levels in Alzheimer disease patients and healthy control subjects, those with Alzheimer disease were found to have lower levels of the mineral. Participants’ average age or sex did not impact the finding. Analysis of the three studies that reported cerebrospinal fluid magnesium levels found a tendency toward lower magnesium levels among Alzheimer disease patients; however, the difference was considered non-significant.

    Analyzing all 21 studies revealed a significantly decreased level of magnesium in Alzheimer disease patients in comparison with healthy controls.

    “In summary, our analysis concluded that circulating magnesium levels in Alzheimer disease patients were significantly lower than those in healthy controls, providing more evidence that magnesium supplementation or magnesium rich diets possibly exerted promising preventive or therapeutic strategies for treating Alzheimer disease patients with a poorer magnesium status,” the authors concluded.

     

    —D Dye

     

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