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Vitamin B3 offers superbug protection

Vitamin B3 offers superbug protection

Friday, August 31, 2012. The September, 2012 issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation reported the discovery of Cedars-Sinai researchers of a protective effect for vitamin B3 against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a type of staph infection that is resistant to antibiotic treatment.

The finding is the result of research concerning a rare disorder known as neutrophil-specific granule deficiency, which involves a mutation in the gene CEBPE that regulates some of the body's antimicrobial factors. Afflicted individuals have weakened immune systems that render them vulnerable to infections such as staph. "Our goal in studying a rare disorder is that it may give us broad insight into the immune mechanisms that protect healthy individuals against staph infections," noted first author Pierre Kyme, PhD, who is a researcher at Cedars-Sinai's Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases in the Maxine Dunitz Children's Health Center and the Immunobiology Research Institute. "We found that if you over-express the gene in normal individuals, the body's immune cells do a better job of fighting off infection."

The team determined that a high dose of a form of vitamin B3 known as nicotinamide or niacinamide stimulates CEBPE, which enhances white blood cells' ability to combat staph infections. When the vitamin was tested in human blood, it boosted the immune system's staph-killing ability up to 1,000-fold in a matter of hours compared to treatment with saline. And in mice that received injections of 250 milligrams nicotinamide per kilogram body weight prior to staph infection, bacterial counts in the animals' spleens and kidneys were 100-fold lower after 48 hours compared with animals injected with saline.

The researchers suggest that targeting CEBPE with other compounds than nicotinamide could also help treat staph infections. Senior coauthor and Cedars-Sinai professor of medicine Phillip Koeffler, MD remarked that "There's more research to be done, but we believe that vitamin B3, and other compounds that are able to increase the activity of this particular gene, have the potential to be effective against other antibiotic-resistant bacteria in addition to strains of staph."

"It's critical that we find novel antimicrobial approaches to treat infection and not rely so heavily on antibiotics," stated pediatric infectious disease physician and coauthor George Liu, MD, PhD, of Cedars-Sinai's Maxine Dunitz Children's Health Center. "That's why this discovery is so exciting. Our research indicates this common vitamin is potentially effective in fighting off and protecting against one of today's most concerning public health threats."

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What's Hot Highlight

Cooling prevents early death in septic shock

What's Hot

An article appearing online recently in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine affirms a benefit for external cooling in sedated patients with septic shock. Septic shock is an inflammatory state resulting from the spread of infectious agents in the bloodstream, which can cause fever, low blood pressure and organ failure. The concept of cooling septic shock patients is controversial, as fever may play a role in the body's defense against pathogens, however, reducing fever can help elevate dangerously low blood pressure.

The current study included 200 adults with septic shock and fever who were receiving an infusion of vasopressor drugs to normalize their blood pressure. One hundred one subjects underwent external cooling under sedation for 48 hours, resulting in a reduction in body temperature to 36.5˚ to 37°C. Vasopressor dose was lowered to maintain normal blood pressure when indicated.

Participants undergoing cooling began to experience a reduction in body temperature after two hours. At twelve hours, those treated with cooling had a significantly greater need for a decrease in medication dose. This group also had a higher prevalence of shock reversal during their intensive care unit stay, and lower mortality at two weeks.

"The benefits and risks of fever control in patients with severe sepsis remains a matter of controversy," stated lead author Frédérique Schortgen, MD, PhD, of the Henri Mondor Hospital in Créteil, France. "In our study, external cooling to achieve normothermia in patients with septic shock was safe, accelerated hemodynamic stabilization, decreased vasopressor requirements, increased the rate of shock reversal, and decreased early mortality."

"Larger studies are needed to confirm the positive effects of cooling on mortality we observed and to examine whether fever control provides any additional benefits in patients with severe sepsis."

September 2012 Life Extension Magazine® Now Available in Electronic Format

September 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.

National Institutes of Health discovers protective effects of coffee, by Kirk Stokel
Find out why most people don't get enough of coffee's protective compounds.

Groundbreaking study reveals new mechanism behind fish oil's health benefits, by Logan Bronwell
A new discovery reveals how omega-3 fatty acids protect against the causes and effects of chronic inflammation.

Quercetin: Broad-spectrum protection, by Anne Buckley
The plant flavonoid, quercetin has attracted scientific interest for its ability to extend life span in laboratory models and protect against a wide range of health problems.

Beyond sleep: Seven ways melatonin attacks aging factors, by Claudia Kelley, PhD, RD, CDE
Melatonin is involved in regulating our internal body clock, but scientists are discovering that this hormone has beneficial effects on everything from heart disease and diabetes, to bone health and obesity.

Topical lycopene improves cellular skin function, by Gary Goldfaden, MD and Robert Goldfaden
Studies indicate that topically applied lycopene defends against skin aging by helping to stabilize DNA structure in the nucleus of skin cells, enhancing skin-cell signaling and function, and inhibiting enzymatic activity involved in collagen breakdown.

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