Researchers study preventing cancer and diabetes with the maqui berry
NOVA Southeastern University of Florida, May 27, 2021
Aristotelia chilensis, also known as maqui berry, is a fruit-bearing shrub native to South America.
According to a study published in the journal Phytochemical Analysis, maqui berries are rich in anthocyanins, which give the fruits their dark purple color. Anthocyanins are plant pigments that possess many remarkable biological properties, such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-cancer activities.
In a recent study, researchers at NOVA Southeastern University in Florida discussed the potential of Chilean maqui berry for use as a nutritional supplement that can help treat hyperinsulinemia and related diseases. Hyperinsulinemia, or higher-than-normal insulin levels, is often caused by insulin resistance, which is said to be the precursor to diabetes. Chronic hyperinsulinemia also promotes cancer growth by allowing insulin to exert its oncogenic effects, which include enhancing growth factor-dependent cell proliferation, among others.
The researchers discussed how Chilean maqui berry can help with insulin resistance and reduce cancer risk in an article published in the journal Food Science and Human Wellness.
The medicinal benefits of Chilean maqui berry
Researchers have long considered nutritional supplementation to be a possible alternative or adjunct treatment to conventional therapies for common ailments and diseases. According to recent studies, maqui berries can reduce postprandial insulin levels by as much as 50 percent and are just as effective as metformin at increasing insulin sensitivity and stabilizing blood glucose levels.
Maqui berries’ mechanism of action involves inhibiting sodium-dependent glucosetransporters in the small intestine and slowing the rate of entry of glucose in the bloodstream. Thanks to these actions, maqui berries can effectively reduce the likelihood of blood sugar spikes and prevent the corresponding rise in insulin levels that follows.
At the same time, maqui berries contribute to cancer prevention since chronically high blood glucose levels — besides chronic hyperinsulinemia — are also linked to the development of cancer. In fact, numerous studies have shown that diabetics and prediabetics have an elevated risk of developing cancerous growths.
Based on the findings of previous studies, the researchers believe that consistent supplementation with Chilean maqui berries could indirectly reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases that are promoted by hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and hyperinsulinemia.
Studies reveal that social isolation and quarantine throughout the COVID-19 pandemic may have a detrimental impact on physical and mental health of people living with pre-existing conditions
University of Naples (Italy) and Teva Pharmaceuticals, May 30, 2021
Abstract 803: Impact of social isolation and quarantine on the course of diabetes mellitus and its complications during Covid 19 pandemic in Adjara Region Country of Georgia
Abstract 1337: Psychological distress in patients with hypocortisolism during mass quarantine for Covid-19 epidemic in Italy
Studies reveal that social isolation and quarantine throughout the COVID-19 pandemic may have a detrimental impact on people living with pre-existing conditions.
Social isolation and quarantine can have a detrimental impact on physical and mental health of people living with pre-existing conditions, according to two studies being presented at the 23rd European Congress of Endocrinology (e-ECE 2021)
The studies bring together research on the impact of social isolation and quarantine for people living with diabetes in the Adjara Region of Georgia, and on patients with hypocortisolism in Italy. Both studies reported that social isolation during the pandemic caused significant psychological and/or physical distress on the observed individuals.
Data from the first study revealed that the impact of quarantine on people living with diabetes in the Adjara Region caused blood pressure (BP) levels to increase in 88.2% of patients with 50% of these cases resulting in high BP hospitalisation. In addition to these physical factors, increased feelings of anxiety and fear were observed on 82% of patients. In the second study, patients with hypocortisolism experienced increased anxiety and depression, associated with a dissatisfaction feeling of self and a reduced resiliency, when compared with Italian healthy controls. As these are all contributing factors to overall health deterioration, these findings suggest further research is required to allow patients with pre-existing conditions to remain fit and healthy during the current pandemic.
In the Adjara Region study, Dr Liana Jashi and the research team disseminated an online questionnaire and collected answers from 16 endocrinologists and 22 family and general practice doctors. The study confirmed the negative, indirect effects social isolation and quarantine had on people living with diabetes. It reported a list of negative effects such as the reduced access to medical care, weight gain and increased cigarette and alcohol consumption. Physical activity decreased by 29.8%, a vital preventative to further physical and psychological problems.
“This study highlights that people living with diabetes require greater support during pandemics to maintain exercise and protect their physical and mental health. National health services should use these data and future studies to implement better social care around supporting people with pre-existing conditions,” commented Dr Jashi.
In the second study, Dr Chiara Simeoli at the University of Naples reported data collected during the last three weeks of the mass quarantine lasted 2 months in Italy, in a web-survey-based, multicenter, case- control research involving 12 different Italian centres. The study confirmed that a large cohort of 478 patients with hypocortisolism, and particularly, 363 with adrenal insufficiency and 115 with congenital adrenal hyperplasia, adequately treated with glucocorticoids, showed higher anxiety and depression, associated with a dissatisfaction feeling of self and a reduced resiliency, when compared with Italian healthy controls, suggesting the detrimental impact of social isolation on mental health of these patients, particularly frail and vulnerable to infections and stress. Moreover, patients with adrenal insufficiency reported a worse quality of life than patients with congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
“These findings confirmed that beyond the huge impact on physical health, COVID-19 epidemic, social isolation and mass quarantine represent significant psychological stressors, causing severe effects on mental health, even more on people with pre-existing conditions. An empowerment of psychological counselling for these vulnerable patients during COVID-19 should be considered by national health-care services,” adds Dr Simeoli.
Both studies indicate that additional larger studies over a longer period of time are needed for further investigation.
Researchers discover link between local oxygen depletion in the brain and Alzheimer’s disease
University of Seville (Spain), May 24, 2021
The study, published in the journal Nature Aging and led by the laboratories of Dr. Alberto Pascual (CSIC), from the Neuronal Maintenance Mechanisms Group, and Prof. Javier Vitorica (University of Seville/CIBERNED) of the Physiopathology of Alzheimer’s Disease Group at IBiS, demonstrates for the first time that low oxygen levels in the so-called senile plaques in the brain reduces the immune system’s defensive capacity against the disease.
The study also suggests that this lack of oxygen in the brain enhances the action of disorders associated with Alzheimer’s disease that are characterized by low systemic oxygen levels, such as atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases.
What happens in the brain?
A characteristic feature of Alzheimer’s patients is the accumulation of highly toxic substances in their brains, known as senile plaques. The brain has an immune system whose main component are the microglial cells, which were first described and named 100 years ago by Pío del Río Hortega, a disciple of Ramón y Cajal. In the absence of damage, these cells facilitate the neurons’ function. In response to Alzheimer’s disease, microglia defend neurons by surrounding senile plaques, preventing their spread in the brain and decreasing damage.
Alzheimer’s disease is aggravated by other pathologies, such as cardiovascular diseases, which cause a decrease in oxygen levels in the body. This study has revealed reduced oxygen levels around senile plaques, compromising microglial activity (Image, center). When this is compounded by reduced oxygen supply to the brain due to other systemic pathologies, the microglia are unable to provide protection and there is an increase in the pathology associated with the disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia in Spain and around the world. In Spain, its incidence is increasing dramatically as the population ages. Unfortunately, the origin of the disease remains unknown.
The mechanism proposed in this study is mediated by the expression of the HIF1 molecule, whose discoverers received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2019. Increased HIF1 levels compromise the mitochondrial activity of microglial cells and limit their protective capacity against disease.
This study opens new lines of research to improve the metabolic capacity of microglia, which would enable a sustained response over time against the disease. Indirectly, the study supports previous work highlighting the importance of maintaining good cardiovascular health for healthy aging.
Effect of different doses of melatonin on learning and memory deficit in Alzheimer model
Guilan University of Medical Sciences (Iran), May 21, 2021
According to news reporting out of Rasht, Iran, research stated, “Alzheimer Disease (AD) is an age-related neurodegenerative disorder with a progressive impairment of cognitive function. The pineal gland hormone melatonin (MEL) has been known as a protection agent against AD.”
Our news reporters obtained a quote from the research from Guilan University of Medical Sciences: “However, the effect of melatonin in various doses is inconsistent. In this study, we aimed to investigate two doses of MEL on learning and memory in the amyloid-beta (Ab)-induced AD in the rats. Forty-eight male Wistar rats were used in the experiment and randomly divided control, sham, vehicle, AD, AD+MEL10 mg/kg, and AD+MEL 20 mg/kg groups. Intracerebroventricular injection of Ab1-42 was used to develop the animal model of AD. Also, MEL-treated groups received an intraperitoneal injection of MEL for 4 next weeks. The Morris Water Maze (MWM) and Passive Avoidance Learning (PAL) tests were used to examine animals’ learning and memory. The brain of animals was removed for immunohistochemistry for anti- Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP). Intra-peritoneal injection of MEL significantly improve learning and memory in MWM (P=0.000) and PAL test (P=0.000), but there were no significant changes in the two groups that received the melatonin (P>0.05). Histopathological analysis revealed that the clearance of APP deposition in the AD+MEL20 group was considerable compared with the AD+MEL10 group (P=0.000).”
According to the news editors, the research concluded: “Our findings indicate that 10 and 20 mg/kg doses of melatonin have similar results on learning and memory in the AD model. But 20 mg/kg of melatonin has significantly more effect on the clearance of APP deposition.”
Effects of flaxseed on blood pressure, body mass index, and total cholesterol in hypertensive patients: A randomized clinical trial
Lorestan University of Medical Sciences (Iran), May 25, 2021
Given the antioxidant properties of flaxseed and its biologically active ingredients, this study was conducted to determine the effects of flaxseed supplementation on body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, and total cholesterol levels in patients with hypertension.
In this triple-blind clinical trial, 112 patients, with an age range of 35 to 70 years, were randomized to 2 groups receiving 10 g (n=45) and 30 g (n=45) of flaxseed supplementation and 1 group receiving placebo (n=45) for 12 weeks by stratified block randomization. They were evaluated in terms of systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP), BMI, and total serum cholesterol. Physical activity was measured using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire–Short Form (IPAQ–SF) and food intake was assessed using the Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ). The data were analyzed with SPSS, version 22, using the chi-square, Kruskal–Wallis, repeated measures analysis, ANOVA, and ANCOVA tests.
The interaction effects among the study groups and time on the mean SBP (p = 0.001), DBP (p = 0.001), total cholesterol level (p = 0.032), and BMI (p < 0.001) were significant. During the study, the 30-g group achieved the best results, so that a 13.38-unit decrease in SBP was observed compared to a 1.72 unit increase in the placebo group and a 5.6-unit decrease in DBP was measured compared to a 2.39 unit increase in the placebo group. BMI decreased by 0.86 units compared to 0.06 units in the placebo group. Total cholesterol also decreased by 20.4 units compared to 11.86 units in the placebo group.
The results of this study showed that flaxseed can be effective in reducing blood pressure, total cholesterol, and body mass index in hypertensive patients in a twelve-week period.
Study: Don’t count on caffeine to fight sleep deprivation
Michigan State University, May 27, 2021
Rough night of sleep? Relying on caffeine to get you through the day isn’t always the answer, says a new study from Michigan State University.
Researchers from MSU’s Sleep and Learning Lab, led by psychology associate professor Kimberly Fenn, assessed how effective caffeine was in counteracting the negative effects of sleep deprivation on cognition. As it turns out, caffeine can only get you so far.
The study — published in the most recent edition of Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition — assessed the impact of caffeine after a night of sleep deprivation. More than 275 participants were asked to complete a simple attention task as well as a more challenging “placekeeping” task that required completion of tasks in a specific order without skipping or repeating steps.
Fenn’s study is the first to investigate the effect of caffeine on placekeeping after a period of sleep deprivation.
“We found that sleep deprivation impaired performance on both types of tasks and that having caffeine helped people successfully achieve the easier task. However, it had little effect on performance on the placekeeping task for most participants,” Fenn said.
She added: “Caffeine may improve the ability to stay awake and attend to a task, but it doesn’t do much to prevent the sort of procedural errors that can cause things like medical mistakes and car accidents.”
Insufficient sleep is pervasive in the United States, a problem that has intensified during the pandemic, Fenn said. Consistently lacking adequate sleep not only affects cognition and alters mood, but can eventually take a toll on immunity.
“Caffeine increases energy, reduces sleepiness and can even improve mood, but it absolutely does not replace a full night of sleep, Fenn said. “Although people may feel as if they can combat sleep deprivation with caffeine, their performance on higher-level tasks will likely still be impaired. This is one of the reasons why sleep deprivation can be so dangerous.”
Fenn said that the study has the potential to inform both theory and practice.
“If we had found that caffeine significantly reduced procedural errors under conditions of sleep deprivation, this would have broad implications for individuals who must perform high stakes procedures with insufficient sleep, like surgeons, pilots and police officers,” Fenn said. “Instead, our findings underscore the importance of prioritizing sleep.”
Parkinson’s disease more likely in people with depression, study suggests
Umea University (Sweden), May 21 2021
People with depression may be more likely to develop the movement disorder Parkinson’s disease, according to new research published in Neurology.
According to the authors of the study, depression is more common in people with Parkinson’s disease than those without the movement disorder.
“We saw this link between depression and Parkinson’s disease over a timespan of more than 2 decades, so depression may be a very early symptom of Parkinson’s disease or a risk factor for the disease,” says study co-author Prof. Peter Nordström, at Umeå University in Sweden.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects how a person moves, including how they speak and write. As well as problems with movement, Parkinson’s disease can also cause cognitive problems, neurobehavioral problems and sensory difficulties.
The authors of the study state that depression is more common in patients with Parkinson’s disease than in members of the general population. The mood disorder has a major influence on health-related quality of life and could also be involved in more rapid deterioration of cognitive and motor functions.
However, few studies have investigated this association for periods of longer than 10 years, with any long-term findings so far inconclusive.
For the study, the researchers used a cohort consisting of all Swedish citizens aged 50 years and above as of December 31st, 2005. From this group, they then took the 140,688 people diagnosed with depression .
These individuals were each matched with three control participants (a total of 421,718 controls) of the same age and sex who had not been diagnosed with depression.
The participants were then followed for up to 26 years. A total of 1,485 people with depression (1.1%) developed Parkinson’s disease during this time, compared with 1,775 of those who did not have depression (0.4%).
On average, Parkinson’s disease was diagnosed 4.5 years after the beginning of the study, with the likelihood of the disorder developing decreasing over time.
|No sibling link found for depression and Parkinson’s disease|
The researchers calculated that participants with depression were 3.2 times more likely than those without depression to develop Parkinson’s disease within a year of the study beginning. After 15-25 years, the researchers found participants with depression were almost 50% more likely to develop the condition.
If a participant’s depression was severe, their likelihood of developing Parkinson’s disease was also higher. For example, those who had been hospitalized for depression five or more times were 40% more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than participants who had been hospitalized for depression just once.
In addition to these observations, the researchers examined siblings. No link was found between one sibling having Parkinson’s disease and the other having depression.
“This finding gives us more evidence that these two diseases are linked,” says Prof. Nordström. “If the diseases were independent of each other but caused by the same genetic or early environmental factors, then we would expect to see the two diseases group together in siblings, but that didn’t happen.”
The authors suggest there are a number of mechanisms that could explain their findings. Depression or antidepressive treatment could increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease, depression could be an early symptom of Parkinson’s disease, or that the two conditions could share environmental causative factors.
In the paper, the authors acknowledge that they are unable to evaluate the potential role of substances used in antidepressive treatment as risk factors for Parkinson’s disease. The study is an observational one and cannot determine causation.
“Our findings suggest a direct association between depression and subsequent [Parkinson’s disease], supported by a time-dependent hazard ratio, a dose-response pattern for recurrent depression, and a lack of evidence for coaggregation among siblings,” the authors conclude.
“Given that the association was significant over more than two decades of follow-up, depression may be a very early prodromal symptom of or a causal risk factor for [Parkinson’s disease].”
Elsewhere, a study published in December previously suggested that users of methamphetamine are at three times more risk of getting Parkinson’s disease than people who do not use illegal drugs.