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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine May 2008
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Reduced Choline and Betaine Levels Linked with Inflammation

High dietary intake of the B vitamins choline and betaine, found in various plant and animals foods, is linked with lower blood levels of inflammatory markers, according to a recent report.1 Inflammatory markers have been associated with cardiovascular event risk.

More than 3,000 healthy adults in Greece provided information regarding their dietary intake of choline and betaine, and fasting blood samples were tested for levels of interleukin-6, C-reactive protein (CRP), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), and homocysteine.

Subjects whose choline intake was in the top one-third of participants had CRP levels that were 22% lower, interleukin-6 levels that were 26% lower, and TNF-alpha levels that were 6% lower than those whose intake fell in the bottom one-third. Similarly, for those whose betaine levels were in the top third, homocysteine levels were 10% lower, CRP levels were 19% lower, and TNF-alpha levels were 12% lower, compared with participants in the bottom third.1

If further studies confirm these results, “an interesting new dietary approach may be available for reducing chronic diseases associated with inflammation.”2

—Dayna Dye

Reference

1. Detopoulou P, Panagiotakos DB, Antonopoulou S, Pitsavos C, Stefanadis C. Dietary choline and betaine intakes in relation to concentrations of inflammatory markers in healthy adults: the ATTICA study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Feb;87(2):424-30. 2. Zeisel SH. Is there a new component of the Mediterranean diet that reduces inflammation? Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Feb;87(2):277-8.

Calcium Supplements Benefit Adolescent Bone

Supplementing adolescent girls with calcium significantly increases their bone mineral content over the course of 18 months, according to a new report from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.*

Researchers enrolled 96 girls aged 11-12 years, whose calcium intake averaged 636 mg/day. The girls received a drink containing 792 mg calcium from calcium citrate malate or a placebo for 18 months, followed by a two-year period during which they received no supplements.

At the end of the 18-month period, girls who received supplemental calcium experienced significantly greater gains in bone mineral content at all sites except the hip. Furthermore, bone mineral density also increased at all sites in the supplemented group compared with placebo; however, by the end of the study at 42 months, these differences were no longer observed.

The scientists concluded that calcium supplementation is effective in enhancing bone mineralization during growth, and suggests that calcium needs to be taken continually for its benefits to be maintained.

These findings suggest that supplementing with calcium may provide an early start to preventing osteoporosis.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Lambert HL, Eastell R, Karnik K, Russell JM, Barker ME. Calcium supplementation and bone mineral accretion in adolescent girls: an 18-mo randomized controlled trial with 2-y follow-up. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Feb;87(2):455-62.

DHEA Supplementation Improves Cardiovascular Markers in Men

DHEA Supplementation Improves Cardiovascular Markers in Men

Supplementation with dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) improves blood markers of cardiovascular disease risk in men, according to a recent report.* Scientists have previously proposed that DHEA may thwart atherosclerosis development by increasing nitric oxide production, which promotes relaxation of the smooth muscle cells lining blood vessels.

Twenty-four men, average age 65 years, were randomly assigned to blindly receive either 50 mg DHEA per day, or placebo, for two months.* Numerous variables were assessed at baseline and following treatment, including blood lipid levels, testosterone, and platelet cyclic guanosine-monophosphate (cGMP) concentration (a marker of nitric oxide production).

Placebo group parameters remained unchanged. But DHEA supplemented subjects experienced significant increases in testosterone and cGMP, and significant decreases in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and a marker of inflammation. “These findings…suggest that chronic DHEA supplementation would exert antiatherogenic effects, particularly in elderly subjects who display low circulating levels of this hormone,” investigators concluded.

—Dale Kiefer

Reference

* Martina V, Benso A, Gigliardi VR, et al. Short-term dehydroepiandrosterone treatment increases platelet cGMP production in elderly male subjects. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2006 Mar;64(3):260-4.

Breakthrough in Bioartificial Heart Engineering

Breakthrough in Bioartificial Heart Engineering

In a remarkable new report, researchers announced they have successfully reanimated dead rat hearts by introducing cells taken from newborn rat hearts.*

Hearts from euthanized rats were stripped of their cellular linings down to the underlying collagen support structures, which acted as a sort of cellular scaffolding for the “bioartificial hearts.” Heart cells taken from newborn rats were then injected into the denuded hearts. Cardiac and endothelial cells migrated to appropriate structures and established all-new tissues and blood vessels. Investigators subsequently applied a brief external shock. Within days, microscopic contractions occurred; within two weeks, the hearts were beating strongly enough to be viewed by the naked eye.

Although the hearts pumped weakly, moving a volume of fluid roughly equivalent to one-quarter of a newborn’s normal cardiac volume, the groundbreaking experiment holds profound implications for future tissue and organ regeneration and replacement research.

—Dale Kiefer

Reference

* Ott HC, Matthiesen TS, Goh SK, et al. Perfusion-decellularized matrix: using nature’s platform to engineer a bioartificial heart. Nat Med. 2008 Jan 13 [Epub ahead of print].

Scientists Achieve Record Extension of Life Span in Simple Organism

Scientists Achieve Record Extension of Life Span in Simple Organism

In a recent study, University of Southern California researchers report that the combination of dietary restriction and knocking out two genes allowed baker’s yeast to live 10 times longer than its normal life span—without any adverse effects.1

The scientists knocked out RAS2 and SCH9, genes that had been found to promote aging in yeast and cancer in humans.1 A companion study revealed that these same genetic knockouts reversed a yeast model of Werner/Bloom syndromes, diseases characterized by accelerated aging and an increased incidence of cancer.2 The research team is currently studying a human population in Ecuador with similar mutations.

Previous research has shown that mice with a similar mutation survived 30% beyond their normal life span while being protected from osteoporosis and aging-induced cardiomyopathy.3

The scientists hope that researchers will one day use the knowledge gained in these studies “to reprogram disease prevention.”

—Dayna Dye

Reference

1. Wei M, Fabrizio P, Hu J, et al. Life span extension by calorie restriction depends on Rim15 and transcription factors downstream of Ras/PKA, Tor, and Sch9. PLoS Genet. 2008 Jan;4(1):e13. 2. Madia F, Gattazzo C, Wei M, et al. Longevity mutation in SCH9 prevents recombination errors and premature genomic instability in a Werner/Bloom model system. J Cell Biol. 2008 Jan 14;180(1):67-81. 3. Yan L, Vatner DE, O’Connor JP, et al. Type 5 adenylyl cyclase disruption increases longevity and protects against stress. Cell. 2007 Jul 27;130(2):247-58.

Lycopene Stops BPH in its Tracks

Supplementation with the carotenoid lycopene slows the growth of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in men, according to a recent report.* Although a benign condition, BPH is considered a risk factor for the later development of prostate cancer.

Scientists enrolled 40 cancer-free men with BPH and serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels of greater than 4.0 mcg/L.

The men were randomized to receive 15 mg lycopene or placebo daily for six months.

Men who received lycopene experienced decreased PSA levels, while the placebo group saw no change. Prostate enlargement occurred in the placebo group, but not in the lycopene group. Symptoms of BPH improved more in the lycopene group compared with placebo.

The research is the first controlled clinical study to report that lycopene inhibits the progression of BPH. Lycopene may work by inhibiting 5-alpha reductase and interleukin-6 signaling, and its antioxidant properties may help prevent cell proliferation and remodeling in the prostate.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Schwarz S, Obermüller-Jevic UC, Hellmis E, Koch W, Jacobi G, Biesalski HK. Lycopene inhibits disease progression in patients with benign prostate hyperplasia. J Nutr. 2008 Jan;138(1):49-53.