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Curcumin helps improve immune function

Curcumin helps improve immune function

Tuesday, May 29, 2012. In an article published on May 25, 2012 in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, researchers from Oregon State University (OSU) report a benefit for curcumin, a compound found in the spice turmeric, in innate immune function.

OSU Linus Pauling Institute associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics Adrian Gombart and colleagues discovered that curcumin nearly tripled the expression of a gene that encodes a protein known as cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide (CAMP), which can help combat bacteria, viruses and fungi that have not been previously encountered by the immune system. CAMP is the only known antimicrobial peptide of its kind in humans, and is able to destroy a wide range of bacteria, including that which causes tuberculosis. While curcumin's effect on CAMP is not as potent as that previously found for vitamin D, the compound may still be of value in improving immune function, in addition to providing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.

"Curcumin, as part of turmeric, is generally consumed in the diet at fairly low levels," Dr Gombart stated. "However, it's possible that sustained consumption over time may be healthy and help protect against infection, especially in the stomach and intestinal tract."

"This research points to a new avenue for regulating CAMP gene expression," he remarked. "It's interesting and somewhat surprising that curcumin can do that, and could provide another tool to develop medical therapies."

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Immune function impairment correlated with reduced vitamin D levels

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In the May, 2012 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, Spanish researchers describe impairments in immune function in association with reduced levels of vitamin D.

Victor Manuel Martinez-Taboada, MD and his associates at the Unversidad de Cantabria in Santander, Spain measured serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in subjects aged 20 to 30, 31 to 59 and 60 to 86 years. They observed an age-related decline in serum vitamin D, with 5% of young, 21.7% of middle aged and 31.6% of the elderly subjects having levels less than 20 nanograms per milliliter, which was the level considered normal by the researchers. This led to the evaluation of vitamin D's relationship with toll-like receptor expression on white blood cells known as lymphocytes and monocytes. Toll-like receptors are proteins involved in innate immune system function that alert the immune system to microbial infections. The researchers discovered that the toll-like receptor that was impacted the most by insufficient vitamin D levels is toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7), which regulates the immune response to viruses.

"There are numerous studies showing the benefits of maintaining adequate vitamin D levels," commented Dr Martinez-Taboada. "As more and more research into vitamin D is conducted, we are learning that it is extremely important for human health. Our study is no different, and vitamin D supplements should be considered one of many tools that might help when conventional therapies are not enough."

"This study shows that sunlight, or more precisely the lack of vitamin D, could have a role in the seasonally higher rates of infection," commented John Wherry, PhD, who is the Journal of Leukocyte Biology's deputy editor. "More extensive studies must be conducted for this link to be conclusive, but since vitamin D supplements are inexpensive and generally safe, this is a really exciting discovery."

June 2012 Life Extension Magazine® Now Available in Electronic Format

June 2012 Life Extension Magazine® Now Available in Electronic Format

This e-issue of Life Extension Magazine® is extraordinarily easy to use, easy to navigate … with the same flip-the-page feeling you get from your printed copy, plus a few extra advantages. You can choose to search out a topic or keyword. Skim quickly. Skip ahead. Even order products. Now all that convenience is right at your fingertips.

Book Excerpt: Bombshell--Suzanne Somers' quest to educate the world about how to delay aging
Suzanne Somers's new book, Bombshell, exposes the limitations of current medical thinking and enlightens the public to what Life Extension® members long ago learned about delaying and reversing aging.

Rejuvenate your aging skin, by Michael Downey
With the discovery of 10 new validated anti-aging compounds, a nutrient-rich serum has been formulated that ensures deeper dermal penetration and optimal skin appearance.

Carnosine: A proven longevity factor, by Susan Evans
Carnosine levels in the body plummet as humans age, making supplementation a key component of an age-delaying program.

Fight heart disease by activating a protective enzyme, by Seth Richards
Researchers have found that pomegranate extracts boost the multiple benefits of PON1, which increases HDL efficacy and supports healthy endothelial function.

New reason to avoid stress, by Michael Downey
Research has shown that four natural adaptogens can modulate multiple pathways to protect against the physiological damage caused by stress.

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