Lycopene found to inhibit pathway involved in Helicobacter pylori-induced gastric cancer
Yonsei University (South Korea), April 6, 2021
In this study, researchers at Yonsei University in South Korea evaluated the effects of lycopene on hyperproliferation induced by Helicobacter pylori infection. They reported their findings in an article published in the journal Nutrition Research.
- H. pylori is known to colonize the human stomach and is linked to an increased risk of gastric diseases, including gastric cancer.
- According to studies, H. pylori increases the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which activate Janus-activator kinase 1 (Jak1)/signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (Stat3) in gastric epithelial cells.
- ROS also mediate hyperproliferation — a hallmark of carcinogenesis — by activating Wnt/B-catenin signaling in various cells.
- The researchers hypothesized that lycopene, a potent antioxidant with anti-cancer properties, may be able to suppress hyperproliferation by inhibiting the ROS-mediated activation of Jak1/Stat3 and Wnt/B-catenin signaling, as well as the expression of B-catenin target genes.
- To test their hypothesis, they measured the ROS levels and viability of H. pylori-infected gastric epithelial AGS cells before and after lycopene treatment. The Jak1/Stat3 inhibitor AG490 served as the control treatment.
- They also measured the protein levels of the following:
- Total and phosphorylated Jak1/Stat3
- Wnt/B-catenin signaling molecules
- Lipoprotein-related protein 5
- B-catenin target oncogenes (c-Myc and cyclin E)
- The researchers found that lycopene, like AG490, reduced ROS levels and inhibited the activation of Jak1/Stat3, alterations in the levels of Wnt/B-catenin multiprotein complex molecules, the expression of c-Myc and cyclin E and the proliferation of H. pylori-infected gastric epithelial AGS cells.
- Lycopene and AG490 also inhibited the increase in Wnt-1 and lipoprotein-related protein 5 expression caused by H. pylori infection.
Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that lycopene can be used to prevent H. pylori-associated gastric diseases, thanks to its inhibitory effects on gastric cell hyperproliferation.
Less sugar, please! New studies show low glucose levels might assist muscle repair
Skeletal muscle satellite cells found to grow better with less glucose in vitro
Tokyo Metropolitan University, April 3, 2021
Researchers from Tokyo Metropolitan University have shown that skeletal muscle satellite cells, key players in muscle repair, proliferate better in low glucose environments. This is contrary to conventional wisdom that says mammalian cells fare better when there is more sugar to fuel their activities. Because ultra-low glucose environments do not allow other cell types to proliferate, the team could produce pure cultures of satellite cells, potentially a significant boost for biomedical research.
Healthy muscles are an important part of a healthy life. With the wear and tear of everyday use, our muscles continuously repair themselves to keep them in top condition. In recent years, scientists have begun to understand how muscle repair works at the cellular level. Skeletal muscle satellite cells have been found to be particularly important, a special type of stem cell that resides between the two layers of sheathing, the sarcolemma and basal lamina, that envelopes myofiber cells in individual muscle fibers. When myofiber cells get damaged, the satellite cells go into overdrive, multiplying and finally fusing with myofiber cells. This not only helps repair damage, but also maintains muscle mass. To understand how we lose muscles due to illness, inactivity, or age, getting to grips with the specific mechanisms involved is a key challenge for medical science.
A team of scientists from Tokyo Metropolitan University led by Assistant Professor Yasuro Furuichi, Associate Professor Yasuko Manabe and Professor Nobuharu L Fujii have been studying how skeletal muscle satellite cells multiply outside the body. Looking at cells multiplying in petri dishes in a growth medium, they noticed that higher levels of glucose had an adverse effect on the rate at which they grew. This is counterintuitive; glucose is considered to be essential for cellular growth. It is converted into ATP, the fuel that drives a lot of cellular activity. Yet, the team confirmed that lower glucose media led to a larger number of cells, with all the biochemical markers expected for greater degrees of cell proliferation.
They also confirmed that this doesn’t apply to all cells, something they successfully managed to use to their advantage. In experiments in high glucose media, cultures of satellite cells always ended up as a mixture, simply due to other cell types in the original sample also multiplying. By keeping the glucose levels low, they were able to create a situation where satellite cells could proliferate, but other cell types could not, giving a very pure culture of skeletal muscle satellite cells. This is a key prerequisite for studying these cells in a variety of settings, including regenerative medicine. So, was the amount of glucose in their original experiment somehow “just right”? The team added glucose oxidase, a glucose digesting enzyme, to get to even lower levels of glucose, and grew the satellite cells in this glucose-depleted medium. Shockingly, the cells seemed to fare just fine, and proliferated normally. The conclusion is that these particular stem cells seem to derive their energy from a completely different source. Work is ongoing to try to pin down what this is.
The team notes that the sugar levels used in previous experiments matched those found in diabetics. This might explain why loss of muscle mass is seen in diabetic patients, and may have significant implications for how we might keep our muscles healthier for longer.
Higher plasma glutathione levels associated with decreased risk of Alzheimer disease
Kapodistrian University (Greece), March 31, 2021
According to news reporting originating in Athens, Greece,research stated, “Potential links between oxidative stress and the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have been reported in the existing literature. Biological markers of oxidative stress, such as the reduced form of glutathione (GSH), may have a potential role as predictive biomarkers for AD development.”
Funders for this research include Alzheimer’s Association, ESPA-EU program Excellence Grant (ARISTEIA), Ministry for Health and Social Solidarity (Greece).
The news reporters obtained a quote from the research from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, “The aim of the present study was to explore the longitudinal associations between plasma GSH and the risk of developing AD or cognitive decline, in a sample of community-dwelling, non-demented older adults. Participants from the Hellenic Longitudinal Investigation of Aging and Diet (HELIAD) were included in the present prospective study. The sample used in the analyses consisted of 391 non-demented individuals over the age of 64 (mean age = 73.85 years; SD = 5.06), with available baseline GSH measurements and longitudinal follow-up. Plasma GSH was treated both as a continuous variable and as tertiles in our analyses. Cox proportional hazards models were used to evaluate the hazard ratio (HR) for AD incidence as a function of baseline plasma GSH. Generalized estimating equations (GEE) models were deployed to explore the associations between baseline plasma GSH and the rate of change of performance scores on individual cognitive domains over time. Models were adjusted for age, years of education and sex. Supplementary exploratory models were also adjusted for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) at baseline, risk for malnutrition, physical activity and adherence to the Mediter-ranean dietary pattern. A total of 24 incident AD cases occurred during a mean (SD) of 2.99 (0.92) years of follow-up. Individuals in the highest GSH tertile group (highest baseline plasma GSH values) had a 70.1% lower risk for development of AD, compared to those in the lowest one [HR = 0.299 (0.093-0.959); p = 0.042], and also demonstrated a slower rate of decline of their executive functioning over time (5.2% of a standard deviation less decline in the executive composite score for each additional year of follow-up; p = 0.028). The test for trend was also significant suggesting a potential dose-response relationship.”
According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “In the present study, higher baseline plasma GSH levels were associated with a decreased risk of developing AD and with a better preservation of executive functioning longitudinally.”
This research has been peer-reviewed.
Citrus fruit found to decrease risk of stroke
University of East Anglia (UK), March 31, 2021
We’ve all heard how good citrus fruit is for us due to its vitamin C content and immune system-boosting properties. Now research is showing that citrus fruit can also help to reduce stroke risk.
A study conducted at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK reveals that eating citrus fruit, especially oranges, lowers the risk of ischemic stroke significantly. The researchers compared the health of women who ate both oranges and grapefruit regularly versus those who did not.
Compounds in citrus fruit improve circulation and blood flow, reducing stroke risk
The study looked at the flavonoid content of citrus fruits and how they impacted blood vessel health. Previous studies have found that specific orange phytochemicals are protective against intracerebral hemorrhage and considerably improve blood flow in the brain.
Researchers reviewed around 14 years of Nurse’s Health Study data tracking the health and diets of about 70,000 women. Correlations between six flavonoid sub-classes from citrus fruits were assessed related to risks of hemorrhagic, ischemic or complete stroke.
Women who consumed the highest amounts of orange and grapefruit as well as juices from these fruits had much better blood circulation, as well as a 19 percent lowered risk of stroke related to blood clotting as compared with women who didn’t eat much citrus fruit.
Why an orange alongside that apple – each day – is a powerful combination
The women who favored citrus fruit showed a substantially reduced risk of stroke and associated risks. Indeed, if an apple a day keeps the doctor away, an orange a day can keep strokes away.
Other studies of flavonoids in fruit substantiate these results regarding a reduction in stroke risk. Higher intake of all kinds of fruit has a positive impact on stroke risk as well as many other areas of health.
A 2011 study by Western University in London, Ontario found that an additional benefit of flavonoid intake was the prevention of weight gain. A tangerine flavonoid called Nobiletin was shown to reduce the risk of both type 2 diabetes and obesity in mice. The mice given the Nobiletin flavonoid avoided these issues, while those that did not became obese, developed type 2 diabetes, and had atherosclerosis and fatty liver issues.
A 2012 Japanese study found the pulp and juice from satsuma mandarin oranges inhibited tumor growth in cancers of the colon, lung and tongue. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant known for inhibiting free radical damage in the cells. The Nobiletin in citrus fruit has also been linked with apoptosis, or programmed cell death of cancer cells.
Oregon Health & Science University researchers found a connection between eye health and the vitamin C found in citrus fruit. Retinal nerve cells benefited from the compound, and it’s likely brain and nervous system health are positively impacted as well.
While fruit juice packs a potent nutritional punch, there are advantages to eating whole oranges, grapefruits and other fruits instead. Whole fruits tend to be richer in vitamins and nutrients, lower in sugar, and higher in fiber.
For older patients, focusing on what matters is often the best medicine
Yale University, April 4, 2021
A woman in her 80s wanted to play with her great-grandchildren when they came to visit, but knee pain made it difficult for her. A man in his late 70s said he enjoyed going out to dinner, but was constrained by the meal preparation guidelines that he needed to follow because of his diabetes.
Both people have multiple chronic conditions. They also have life goals, things they want to do to live their lives fully, like playing with grandchildren and going out to eat. Understanding these goals and barriers to them, helps doctors align care with what matters most to their patients while eliminating unwanted health care, said the authors of a report that was published March 24 in JAMA Network Open.
The report, the first systematic description of older adults’ health care priorities, describes a structured process called Patient Health Priorities that health care providers can follow to identify the life goals of older adults with multiple chronic conditions as well as their health care preferences.
“There is growing awareness of the need to transition health care, particularly for people with multiple chronic conditions, from treating single diseases in isolation to health care that is aligned with patients’ priorities,” said Mary Tinetti, MD, the principal investigator of the Patient Priorities Care study, and the Gladys Phillips Crofoot Professor of Medicine (Geriatrics) at Yale School of Medicine (YSM).
During the study, health care providers asked 163 patients who were 65 and older and have multiple chronic conditions to identify what they value most in life such as connecting with family, being productive, or remaining independent. They then asked what specific and realistic activities they most wanted to be able to do that reflected their values. The participants also were asked to describe the barriers that prevented them from achieving their goals, such as unnecessary doctors’ visits, taking too many medications, or health concerns such as fatigue and shortness of breath.
“The medications, health care visits, testing, procedures, and self-management tasks entailed in treating multiple chronic conditions require investments of time and effort that may be burdensome and conflict with what patients are willing and able to do,” Tinetti said.
The study was conducted among patients of 10 primary care doctors from a multi-site practice in Connecticut who invited patients to participate during routine visits. Participants had to be 65 or older and have at least three chronic health conditions that were treated with at least 10 prescription medications. They also had to be under the care of two or more specialists, or have visited the emergency room at least two times, or had been hospitalized once, during the past year. Of the 236 patients at the practice, 163 agreed to participate. Most participants were white, female, about 78 years old, and had four chronic conditions. Nearly half had high school-level or less education.
Participants were asked to identify their values with questions such as, “What does enjoying life mean to you?” and “When you have a good day, what happens?” Their health care providers then worked with them to make sure their care was focused on achieving those goals. Participants also were asked what health issues most interfered with their goals, and what aspects of their health care they found helpful and which they felt were unhelpful to too burdensome.
The 163 participants identified 459 outcome goals, the most common of which were sharing meals with friends and family (7.8%); visiting with grandchildren (16.3%); going shopping (6.1%), and exercising (4.6%). Twenty participants (4.4%) said they wanted to be able to stay in their homes and live independently. Common barriers to their goals were pain (41%); fatigue, lack of energy or poor sleep (14.4%); unsteadiness (13.5%); and shortness of breath and dizziness (6.1%).
Thirty-two participants (19.8%) felt they were taking too many medications, while 57 (35.0%) reported having bothersome symptoms from their medications but did not mention specific drugs. Also, 43 (26%) participants said that visits to their primary care physicians and specialists were helpful, although 15 (9%) said they have too many visits or doctors. “I’m tired of going to so many doctors.”
Understanding what’s important to patients can help with patient-doctor communication and decision-making, Tinetti said. “If a patient’s outcome goals are not achievable or realistic given their health status, a conversation might include, “I worry that you might not be able to continue driving your friends to the theater. I wonder if there are other ways to fulfill your desire to see shows and connect with your friends that could be more achievable.”
Participants were drawn from a single practice with a homogeneous patient population; results may not generalize to other populations, and identifying the priorities of diverse groups is essential, the report’s authors noted. “While further research is needed, the study suggests the feasibility of asking people about their goals and preferences, and getting responses that can inform decision-making,” Tinetti said.
A newly launched website, MyHealthPriorities.org, grew out of the Patient Priorities Care initiative. People can use the website to identify their priorities so they can discuss them with their health care team.
“When there isn’t a healthcare provider available to do the health priorities identification, there is now this option of the self-directed website,” said Jessica Esterson, MPH, project director in the Section of Geriatrics at YSM. “We want to spread this capability to as many older adults as possible. By providing the website directly to individuals we greatly expand its reach and potential.”
The website walks people through the Patient Priorities Care health priorities identification process. At the end they will have a summary to bring to their doctors that outlines their health priorities—the activities they want their health care to help them achieve based on what they are willing and able to do.
Tinetti encourages people of all ages, particularly older adults with multiple health conditions, to use MyHealthPriorities.org. “It will help you think about things you haven’t thought about before, and better understand what matters most to you about your health and health care,” Tinetti said. “It’s important to you, your family, and your doctors.”
Paleopharmaceuticals from Baltic amber might fight drug-resistant infections
University of Minnesota, April 5, 2021
For centuries, people in Baltic nations have used ancient amber for medicinal purposes. Even today, infants are given amber necklaces that they chew to relieve teething pain, and people put pulverized amber in elixirs and ointments for its purported anti-inflammatory and anti-infective properties. Now, scientists have pinpointed compounds that help explain Baltic amber’s therapeutic effects and that could lead to new medicines to combat antibiotic-resistant infections.
The researchers will present their results today at the spring meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS Spring 2021 is being held online April 5-30. Live sessions will be hosted April 5-16, and on-demand and networking content will continue through April 30. The meeting features nearly 9,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.
Each year in the U.S., at least 2.8 million people get antibiotic-resistant infections, leading to 35,000 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We knew from previous research that there were substances in Baltic amber that might lead to new antibiotics, but they had not been systematically explored,” says Elizabeth Ambrose, Ph.D., who is the principal investigator of the project. “We have now extracted and identified several compounds in Baltic amber that show activity against gram-positive, antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”
Ambrose’s interest originally stemmed from her Baltic heritage. While visiting family in Lithuania, she collected amber samples and heard stories about their medicinal uses. The Baltic Sea region contains the world’s largest deposit of the material, which is fossilized resin formed about 44 million years ago. The resin oozed from now-extinct pines in the Sciadopityaceae family and acted as a defense against microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi, as well as herbivorous insects that would become trapped in the resin.
Ambrose and graduate student Connor McDermott, who are at the University of Minnesota, analyzed commercially available Baltic amber samples, in addition to some that Ambrose had collected. “One major challenge was preparing a homogeneous fine powder from the amber pebbles that could be extracted with solvents,” McDermott explains. He used a tabletop jar rolling mill, in which the jar is filled with ceramic beads and amber pebbles and rotated on its side. Through trial and error, he determined the correct ratio of beads to pebbles to yield a semi-fine powder. Then, using various combinations of solvents and techniques, he filtered, concentrated and analyzed the amber powder extracts by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS).
Dozens of compounds were identified from the GC-MS spectra. The most interesting were abietic acid, dehydroabietic acid and palustric acid — 20-carbon, three-ringed organic compounds with known biological activity. Because these compounds are difficult to purify, the researchers bought pure samples and sent them to a company that tested their activity against nine bacterial species, some of which are known to be antibiotic resistant.
“The most important finding is that these compounds are active against gram-positive bacteria, such as certain Staphylococcus aureus strains, but not gram-negative bacteria,” McDermott says. Gram-positive bacteria have a less complex cell wall than gram-negative bacteria. “This implies that the composition of the bacterial membrane is important for the activity of the compounds,” he says. McDermott also obtained a Japanese umbrella pine, the closest living species to the trees that produced the resin that became Baltic amber. He extracted resin from the needles and stem and identified sclarene, a molecule present in the extracts that could theoretically undergo chemical transformations to produce the bioactive compounds the researchers found in Baltic amber samples.
“We are excited to move forward with these results,” Ambrose says. “Abietic acids and their derivatives are potentially an untapped source of new medicines, especially for treating infections caused by gram-positive bacteria, which are increasingly becoming resistant to known antibiotics.”
Complementary effects of pine bark extract supplementation on inattention, impulsivity, and antioxidative status in children with ADHD
Taipei Medical University (Taiwan), April 1, 2021
The purpose of this study was to investigate the complementary effects of polyphenolic compounds from pine bark extract (PE) as a strong antioxidative substrate on the symptoms of inattention and impulsivity in children with attention‐deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This was a randomized, double‐blind, crossover, placebo‐controlled study that included two experimental units (4 weeks with PE supplementation and 4 weeks with placebo supplementation) separated by a 2‐week washout period. ADHD participants were supplemented with 25 mg or 50 mg PE. We recruited 20 participants (17 boys and 3 girls) with a mean age of 10.0 ± 2.1 years. PE supplementation caused a significant reduction in the inattention and hyperactivity‐impulsivity items of SNAP‐IV. During the period of PE supplementation, the item of commissions in the Continuous Performance Test III (CPT III) significantly decreased, which was used to evaluate the symptoms of inattention and impulsivity. In addition, the erythrocytic reduced glutathione/oxidized glutathione ratio significantly increased, and the plasma TBARs level significantly decreased after 4 weeks of PE supplementation. However, there was no significant correlation between CPT III (commission) and antioxidative status indictors. PE supplementation may have potential effects of ameliorating inattention and impulsivity, and elevating the antioxidative status in children with ADHD.