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Life Extension Magazine September 2010

Healing Cream

The effects of topical vitamin K on bruising after laser treatment.

BACKGROUND: Pulsed dye laser treatment and other cosmetic procedures result in significant bruising. Claims have been made regarding the efficacy of topical vitamin K in both preventing and speeding the clearing of bruising; however, well-controlled studies are lacking. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effects of topical vitamin K versus placebo in the prevention and clearing of laser-induced purpura. METHODS: A total of 22 patients were enrolled in this double-blind randomized placebo-controlled study. The patients were divided into pretreatment and posttreatment groups; the 11 patients in the former group applied vitamin K cream to half of their face and vehicle alone to the other half of their face twice daily for 2 weeks before laser treatment. The latter group followed the same procedure for 2 weeks after laser treatment. On day 0, all subjects underwent laser treatment for facial telangiectases using a 585-nm pulsed dye laser. Bruising was rated by the both the patient and physician by means of a visual analogue scale on days 0, 3, 7, 10, 14, and 17. RESULTS: The side of the face treated with topical vitamin K before laser therapy showed no significant difference in bruising as compared to placebo. However, the side of the face treated with vitamin K cream after laser treatment had significantly lower scores of bruising severity when compared with the side treated with placebo. CONCLUSION: Although pretreatment with vitamin K did not prevent bruising after laser treatment, use of vitamin K cream after laser treatment did reduce the severity of bruising, particularly in the initial days of application.

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2002 Aug;47(2):241-4

Helenalin, an anti-inflammatory sesquiterpene lactone from Arnica, selectively inhibits transcription factor NF-kappaB.

Alcoholic extracts prepared form Arnicae flos, the collective name for flowerheads from Arnica montana and A. chamissonis ssp. foliosa, are used therapeutically as anti-inflammatory remedies. The active ingredients mediating the pharmacological effect are mainly sesquiterpene lactones, such as helenalin, 11alpha,13-dihydrohelenalin, chamissonolid and their ester derivatives. While these compounds affect various cellular processes, current data do not fully explain how sesquiterpene lactones exert their anti-inflammatory effect. We show here that helenalin, and, to a much lesser degree, 11alpha,13-dihydrohelenalin and chamissonolid, inhibit activation of transcription factor NF-kappaB. This difference in efficacy, which correlates with the compounds’ anti-inflammatory potency in vivo, may be explained by differences in structure and conformation. NF-kappaB, which resides in an inactive, cytoplasmic complex in unstimulated cells, is activated by phosphorylation and degradation of its inhibitory subunit, IkappaB. Helenalin inhibits NF-kappaB activation in response to four different stimuli in T-cells, B-cells and epithelial cells and abrogates kappaB-driven gene expression. This inhibition is selective, as the activity of four other transcription factors, Oct-1, TBP, Sp1 and STAT 5 was not affected. We show that inhibition is not due to a direct modification of the active NF-kappaB heterodimer. Rather, helenalin modifies the NF-kappaB/IkappaB complex, preventing the release of IkappaB. These data suggest a molecular mechanism for the anti-inflammatory effect of sesquiterpene lactones, which differs from that of other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), indomethacin and acetyl salicylic acid.

Biol Chem. 1997 Sep;378(9):951-61

Effect of Thymol on the spontaneous contractile activity of the smooth muscles.

Effects of Thymol on the spontaneous contractile activity (SCA) have been found in in vitro experiments with circular smooth-muscle strips (SMAs) from guinea pig stomach and vena portae. Thymol was found to possess an agonistic effect on the alpha(1)-, alpha(2)- and beta-adrenergic receptors. Its spasmolytic effect is registered at doses higher than 10(-6)M. Thymol in a dose of 10(-4)M inhibits 100% the SCA of the SMAs and reduces the excitatory effect of 10(-5)M ACH to 35%. It is assumed that Thymol has an analgesic effect through its action on the alpha(2)-adrenergic receptors of the nerve cells. By influencing the beta-adrenergic receptors in the adipose cells, it is possible to induce increased synthesis of fatty acids and glycerol, which is a prerequisite for increased heat release.

Phytomedicine. 2007 Jan;14(1):65-9

Anti-inflammatory activity of thymol: inhibitory effect on the release of human neutrophil elastase.

Elastase, a serine proteinase released by activated human neutrophils, can degrade a wide variety of biomacromolecules including elastin, and is considered a marker of inflammatory diseases. As the logical strategy to protect tissue is to inhibit excessive elastase activity, experimental and clinical researches have concentrated on trying to find efficient elastase inhibitors. As thymol, one of the major components of thyme oil with a phenolic structure, has been credited with a series of pharmacological properties, that include antimicrobial and antioxidant effects, the aim of this study was to explore whether it can also interfere with the release of elastase by human neutrophils stimulated with the synthetic chemotactic peptide N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLP). After the neutrophils were incubated with increasing amounts of thymol (2.5, 5, 10, 20 microg/ml), elastase release was initiated by fMLP and measured using MeO-Suc-Ala-Ala-Pro-Val-MCA. The results showed that thymol inhibited fMLP-induced elastase release in a concentration-dependent manner, with the effects of 10 and 20 microg/ml being statistically significant. The behavior of cytosolic calcium mobilization revealed by fura-2 closely resembled that of elastase, thus suggesting that they may be related. The hydrophobic nature of thymol means that it can approach ion channel proteins through the lipid phase of the membrane, alter the local environment of calcium channels and thus inhibit capacitative calcium entry. In brief, thymol inactivates calcium channels machinery, thus triggering a corresponding reduction in elastase. The antibacterial and antimycotic activity of thymol is already well known, but our findings that it inhibits elastase extend our knowledge of the anti-inflammatory activity of this interesting molecule that is already credited with antioxidant activity. These two latter characteristics make thymol a molecule that can have helpful effects in controlling the inflammatory processes present in many infections.

Pharmacology. 2006;77(3):130-6

Thymol, a constituent of thyme essential oil, is a positive allosteric modulator of human GABA(A) receptors and a homo-oligomeric GABA receptor from Drosophila melanogaster.

The GABA-modulating and GABA-mimetic activities of the monoterpenoid thymol were explored on human GABAA and Drosophila melanogaster homomeric RDLac GABA receptors expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes, voltage-clamped at -60 mV. The site of action of thymol was also investigated. Thymol, 1-100 microm, resulted in a dose-dependent potentiation of the EC20 GABA response in oocytes injected with either alpha1beta3gamma2s GABAA subunit cDNAs or the RDLac subunit RNA. At 100 microm thymol, current amplitudes in response to GABA were 416+/-72 and 715+/-85% of controls, respectively. On both receptors, thymol, 100 microm, elicited small currents in the absence of GABA. The EC50 for GABA at alpha1beta3gamma2s GABAA receptors was reduced by 50 microm thymol from 15+/-3 to 4+/-1 microm, and the Hill slope changed from 1.35+/-0.14 to 1.04+/-0.16; there was little effect on the maximum GABA response. Thymol (1-100 microm) potentiation of responses to EC20 GABA for alpha1beta1gamma2s, alpha6beta3gamma2s and alpha1beta3gamma2s human GABAA receptors was almost identical, arguing against actions at benzodiazepine or loreclezole sites. Neither flumazenil, 3-hydroxymethyl-beta-carboline (3-HMC), nor 5alpha-pregnane-3alpha, 20alpha-diol (5alpha-pregnanediol) affected thymol potentiation of the GABA response at alpha1beta3gamma2s receptors, providing evidence against actions at the benzodiazepine/beta-carboline or steroid sites. Thymol stimulated the agonist actions of pentobarbital and propofol on alpha1beta3gamma2s receptors, consistent with a mode of action distinct from that of either compound. These data suggest that thymol potentiates GABAA receptors through a previously unidentified binding site.

Br J Pharmacol. 2003 Dec;140(8):1363-72

Avenanthramides, polyphenols from oats, exhibit anti-inflammatory and anti-itch activity.

Oatmeal has been used for centuries as a soothing agent to relieve itch and irritation associated with various xerotic dermatoses; however few studies have sought to identify the active phytochemical(s) in oat that mediate this anti-inflammatory activity. Avenanthramides are phenolic compounds present in oats at approximately 300 parts per million (ppm) and have been reported to exhibit anti-oxidant activity in various cell-types. In the current study we investigated whether these compounds exert anti-inflammatory activity in the skin. We found that avenanthramides at concentrations as low as 1 parts per billion inhibited the degradation of inhibitor of nuclear factor kappa B-alpha (IkappaB-alpha) in keratinocytes which correlated with decreased phosphorylation of p65 subunit of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappaB). Furthermore, cells treated with avenanthramides showed a significant inhibition of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) induced NF-kappaB luciferase activity and subsequent reduction of interleukin-8 (IL-8) release. Additionally, topical application of 1-3 ppm avenanthramides mitigated inflammation in murine models of contact hypersensitivity and neurogenic inflammation and reduced pruritogen-induced scratching in a murine itch model. Taken together these results demonstrate that avenanthramides are potent anti-inflammatory agents that appear to mediate the anti-irritant effects of oats.

Arch Dermatol Res. 2008 Nov;300(10):569-74

Injury enhances TLR2 function and antimicrobial peptide expression through a vitamin D-dependent mechanism.

An essential element of the innate immune response to injury is the capacity to recognize microbial invasion and stimulate production of antimicrobial peptides. We investigated how this process is controlled in the epidermis. Keratinocytes surrounding a wound increased expression of the genes coding for the microbial pattern recognition receptors CD14 and TLR2, complementing an increase in cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide expression. These genes were induced by 1,25(OH)2 vitamin D3 (1,25D3; its active form), suggesting a role for vitamin D3 in this process. How 1,25D3 could participate in the injury response was explained by findings that the levels of CYP27B1, which converts 25OH vitamin D3 (25D3) to active 1,25D3, were increased in wounds and induced in keratinocytes in response to TGF-beta1. Blocking the vitamin D receptor, inhibiting CYP27B1, or limiting 25D3 availability prevented TGF-beta1 from inducing cathelicidin, CD14, or TLR2 in human keratinocytes, while CYP27B1-deficient mice failed to increase CD14 expression following wounding. The functional consequence of these observations was confirmed by demonstrating that 1,25D3 enabled keratinocytes to recognize microbial components through TLR2 and respond by cathelicidin production. Thus, we demonstrate what we believe to be a previously unexpected role for vitamin D3 in innate immunity, enabling keratinocytes to recognize and respond to microbes and to protect wounds against infection.

J Clin Invest. 2007 Mar;117(3):803-11

Vitamin D and the skin.

Along with other organs like prostate, bones and kidney, skin is capable of vitamin D synthesis. Primarily keratinocytes but also macrophages and fibroblasts synthesize active vitamin D from cholesterol precursors by photochemical activation. The synthesized vitamin D functions by binding to nuclear vitamin D receptors. Vitamin D deficiency usually manifests as rickets in childhood although it is today only relevant in diseases characterized by malabsorption due to today’s recommended vitamin D prophylaxis. Excessive doses of vitamin D are the usual cause of increased levels. The most common therapeutic target of vitamin D is psoriasis. Here, topical preparations are usually employed; their anti-proliferative and cell differentiation-promoting action is mediated via binding to cutaneous vitamin D receptors.

Hautarzt. 2008 Sep;59(9):737-42

Vitamin D as an inducer of cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide expression: Past, present and future.

Vitamin D was discovered as the preventive agent of nutritional rickets, a defect in bone development due to inadequate uptake of dietary calcium. However, a variety of studies over the last several years has revealed that vitamin D controls much more than calcium homeostasis. For example, recent research has underlined the key role of vitamin D signaling in regulation of innate immunity in humans. Vitamin D is converted to 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25D), its major circulating form, and then to hormonal 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25D) in target cells. We now know that when cells of the immune system such a macrophages sense a bacterial infection they acquire the capacity to convert circulating 25D into 1,25D. Moreover, 1,25D thus produced is a direct inducer of expression of genes encoding antimicrobial peptides, in particular cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide (CAMP). Antimicrobial peptides such as CAMP are vanguards of innate immune responses to bacterial infection and can act as signaling molecules to regulate immune system function. This review covers what we have learned in the past few years about the expression and function of CAMP under physiological and pathophysiological conditions, and addresses the potential future applications of vitamin D analogues to therapeutic regulation of CAMP expression.

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2010 Mar 17

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