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May 14, 2010

Vinpocetine shows promise for chronic inflammation

Vinpocetine shows promise for chronic inflammation

Findings reported in article published online on May 6, 2010 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggest that vinpocetine, a derivative of vincamine (from the periwinkle plant), could be useful for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), arthritis, infectious diseases and cancer. Vinpocetine is a dietary supplement that has been used for many years to help prevent cerebrovascular disorders and memory loss, however, the compound's potential benefit in other disorders has not been explored.

Chen Yan, PhD of the University of Rochester Medical Center's Aab Cardiovascular Research Institute and colleagues report that vinpocetine acts as an anti-inflammatory agent in a mouse model of lung inflammation and in cell cultures. Vinpocetine was found to inhibit tumor necrosis factor-alpha induced nuclear factor-kappa-beta (NF-kB) activation and the subsequent induction of proinflammatory mediators in endothelial cells, epithelial cells, macrophages, and vascular smooth muscle cells. Vinpocetine works by inhibiting IKK, an enzyme that regulates inflammation by activating NF-kB.

The authors write that despite the well-known involvement of inflammation in disease, current therapies such as steroids and cyclooxygenase inhibitors can have significant long term side effects and new agents are urgently needed. "Inflammation is a hallmark of a wide range of human diseases, so there is great potential for vinpocetine to be used for several indications," noted coauthor and Rochester Medical Center CEO Bradford C. Berk, MD, PhD.

"What is extremely exciting and promising about these findings is vinpocetine's excellent safety profile," Dr Yan remarked. "Previously, most drugs tested in this area have failed, not because of a lack of efficacy, but because of safety issues. We're very encouraged by these results and believe vinpocetine has great potential for the treatment of COPD and other inflammatory diseases."

"In managing chronic conditions such as COPD, it is crucial to have a therapy that can be used safely over the long term," added coauthor Jian-Dong Li, MD, PhD, who is a professor at the University of Rochester's Department of Microbiology and Immunology "There is a great need for a drug like vinpocetine, because patients currently have no good options when it comes to long-term care."

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Health Concern Life Extension Highlight

Chronic inflammation

The pathological consequences of inflammation are well-documented in the medical literature (Willard et al. 1999; Hogan et al. 2001). Regrettably, the dangers of systemic inflammation continue to be ignored, even though proven ways exist to reverse this process.

The following supplements are suggested:

  • The docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) fraction of fish oil may be the most effective nonprescription supplement to suppress pro-inflammatory cytokines. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is a precursor of PGE1, a potent anti-inflammatory agent.
  • DHEA is a hormone that decreases with age. DHEA has been shown to suppress IL-6, an inflammatory cytokine that often increases as people age. Typical doses of DHEA are 25-50 mg daily, although some people take 100 mg daily. Refer to the DHEA Replacement protocol for suggested blood tests to safely and optimally use DHEA.
  • Nettle leaf has been shown to suppress the proinflammatory cytokine TNF-a. Take 1000 mg daily.
  • Vitamin E and N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) are protective antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin E that contains gamma-tocopherol and tocotrienols provides the most broad-spectrum protection. NAC is an amino acid with antiviral and liver protectant properties. One 600 mg capsule daily is recommended.
  • Vitamin K helps reduce levels of IL-6, a pro-inflammatory messenger. Vitamin K also helps in the treatment of osteoporosis by regulating calcium and promoting bone calcification.  If you are taking Coumadin or other anticoagulant medicine, consult your physician before taking vitamin K.
  • Consuming at least 1000 mg per day of carnosine and/or 300 mg of the European drug aminoguanidine can inhibit pathological glycation reactions in the body.
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