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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine April 2009
In The News

Resveratrol Protects Against Atherosclerosis

Resveratrol Protects Against Atherosclerosis

Resveratrol, a phytopolyphenol compound found abundantly in red wine, protects against atherosclerosis by multiple mechanisms.* Atherosclerosis develops from an excess of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in the arteries, oxidative stress, inflammation, and endothelial cell injury and dysfunction; the process leads to the formation of fibrous plaques that may rupture.

Several activities of resveratrol help inhibit the progression of atherosclerosis. Studies show that the compound regulates the production of both vasoconstricting and vasodilating substances, inhibits oxidative stress and the generation of reactive oxygen species, inhibits inflammation, prevents the oxidation and uptake of LDL, suppresses platelet aggregation at plaque sites, and decreases the accumulation of smooth muscle cells in the blood vessels.

These findings support previous data on the wide-ranging benefits of resveratrol, including protection against cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, and suggest its future role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Fan E, Zhang L, Jiang S, Bai Y. Beneficial effects of resveratrol on atherosclerosis. J Med Food. 2008 Dec;11(4):610-4.

Home Blood Pressure Monitoring More Accurate Than Office Measurement

Continuous blood pressure monitoring at home appears to be more accurate than measurements taken at office visits in predicting heart disease outcomes, according to a recent study.*

A total of 556 patients with treatment-resistant hypertension underwent both office measurements of blood pressure and 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure measurements at home (every 15-30 minutes) while wearing a small device. After blood pressure was recorded, patients were monitored for cardiovascular events including heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and death. An average of five years later, 20% of patients had experienced a cardiovascular event or had died. Blood pressure measured in the doctor’s office showed no statistical association with outcomes, whereas high blood pressure measurements at home—especially values recorded at night—were associated with heart disease events.

Home blood pressure monitoring eliminates “white coat hypertension,” the phenomenon of elevated blood pressure from the stress of being in a doctor’s office, and provides important information about night-time levels.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Salles GF, Cardoso CR, Muxfeldt ES. Prognostic influence of office and ambulatory blood pressures in resistant hypertension. Arch Intern Med. 2008 Nov 24;168(21):2340-6.

Fish Oil Keeps Arteries Supple

Fish oil supplementation improves arterial elasticity compared with placebo in overweight patients with high blood pressure.* Arterial stiffness in hypertensive or elderly patients may predispose to cardiovascular disease.

The 52 Chinese patients were randomly assigned to take fish oil capsules (3,000 mg/day) or placebo. After eight weeks, large-artery elasticity was significantly improved in the fish oil group compared with baseline, but no effect was found in the placebo group. No changes occurred in small-artery elasticity or blood pressure in either group. The increase in arterial elasticity correlated with the degree of increase in the ratio of polyunsaturated fatty acids to saturated fatty acids in the blood.

The results suggest that omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil exert a direct and rapid effect on improving arterial elasticity in overweight, hypertensive patients, but further study is needed to prove a similar benefit for aging-related arterial stiffness

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Wang S, Ma AQ, Song SW, Quan QH, Zhao XF, Zheng XH. Fish oil supplementation improves large arterial elasticity in overweight hypertensive patients. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2008 Dec;62(12):1426-31.

B Vitamin Prevents Memory Loss

B Vitamin Prevents Memory Loss

A recent article in the Journal of Neuroscience reveals a protective effect of nicotinamide, otherwise known as niacinamide, against memory loss in mice bred to develop a condition that mimics Alzheimer’s disease in humans.*

The team from the University of California, Irvine, added nicotinamide (the amide of nicotinic acid [vitamin B3]) daily to the drinking water of Alzheimer’s mice and normal mice, while other groups of mice received untreated water for four months. They found lower levels of phosphorylated tau in the brains of the Alzheimer’s mice that received nicotinamide, as well as an increase in proteins that strengthen the brain’s microtubules. While untreated Alzheimer’s mice demonstrated memory loss, those that received nicotinamide performed at the same level as the normal mice.

“The results presented here suggest that nicotinamide has a potential as a novel, safe and inexpensive Alzheimer’s disease therapy, either alone or in combination with amyloid beta-lowering therapies,” the scientists concluded.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Green KN, Steffan JS, Martinez-Coria H, et al. Nicotinamide restores cognition in Alzheimer’s disease transgenic mice via a mechanism involving sirtuin inhibition and selective reduction of Thr231-phosphotau.J Neurosci. 2008 Nov 5;28(45):11500-10.

Endothelial Progenitor Cells May Reduce Cardiovascular Disease

Endothelial Progenitor Cells May Reduce Cardiovascular Disease

Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), which circulate in the bloodstream, play a role in normal blood vessel function and may find application as both a marker of cardiovascular disease and a potential treatment, according to a recent review.1

Endothelial progenitor cells help create and repair blood vessels by giving rise to endothelial cells (cells that line the blood vessels). Current research suggests that EPCs are biomarkers for cardiovascular disease risk. Oxidative stress, especially associated with aging, impairs endothelial cell function, and the response of EPCs to oxidative stress is therefore critical to prevent disease. Because a higher number of EPCs is related to a lower risk of disease, EPCs are also a potential therapeutic strategy to repair blood vessels.1

Further understanding of the relationship between oxidative damage and EPC function will lead to future antioxidant treatments, and EPCs may become “a method to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions to reduce vascular morbidities and mortalities.”1

One of resveratrol’s multiple benefits is its ability to upregulate endothelial progenitor cells.2

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

1. Case J, Ingram DA, Haneline LS. Oxidative stress impairs endothelial progenitor cell function. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2008 Nov;10(11):1895-907.
2. Balestrieri ML, Schiano C, Felice F, et al. Effect of low doses of red wine and pure resveratrol on circulating endothelial progenitor cells. J Biochem. 2008 Feb;143(2):179-86.

Vitamin E Reduces Inflammation

A recent issue of the journal Experimental Physiology published the discovery of researchers at the University of Illinois of an anti-inflammatory effect for vitamin E in an animal model of inflammation.*

Kinesiology and community health professor Kimberly Huey, PhD, and colleagues administered vitamin E or a placebo to mice for three days before injecting the animals with a low dose of E. coli lipopolysaccharide to induce inflammation. A control group of animals received saline instead of the lipopolysaccharide.

The team found increased levels of the cytokines interleukin-6 and interleukin-1-beta in the skeletal and cardiac muscle of mice that received lipopolysaccharide, yet among those that received vitamin E, levels of these cytokines were significantly lower than those of the placebo group. The cytokines function as intercellular communicators that assist in immune response, yet can lead to excessive inflammation.

Dr. Huey concluded that vitamin E “may be beneficial in individuals with chronic inflammation, such as the elderly.” 

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Huey KA, Fiscus G, Richwine AF, Johnson RW, Meador BM. In vivo vitamin E administration attenuates interleukin-6 and interleukin-1beta responses to an acute inflammatory insult in mouse skeletal and cardiac muscle. Exp Physiol. 2008 Dec;93(12):1263-72.

Pharmaceutical Advertising Biases Journals Against Non-Drug Therapies

According to a study conducted at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, advertising by pharmaceutical companies in medical journals is clearly associated with bias against “non-drug” therapies in those journals.*

Researchers examined a year’s worth of issues from 11 “major medical journals,” including influential publications, such as The New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the British Medical Journal. Investigators tallied the amount and content of advertising per journal, and noted any coverage of dietary supplements, including the conclusions reached regarding those nutritional supplements.

Journals with the greatest amount of pharmaceutical company-sponsored advertising were least likely to feature articles about dietary supplements. More to the point, when such journals did feature articles regarding supplements, the conclusions were more likely to be negative rather than positive, or merely neutral.

“The results are consistent with the hypothesis that pharmaceutical advertising biases journals against non-drug therapies,” wrote investigators. “In major medical journals, more pharmaceutical advertising is associated with publishing fewer articles about [dietary supplements] and having more negative conclusions about [dietary supplements’] safety.”

—Dale Kiefer

Reference

* Kemper KJ, Hood KL. Does pharmaceutical advertising affect journal publication about dietary supplements? BMC Complement Altern Med. 2008 Apr 9;8:11.

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