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Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Young adults' brain function may be boosted by exercise

Regular exercise improves brain activity in young adults, says a new study. The conclusion runs counter to the popular belief that because they are in their prime and the peak of their cognitive ability, young adult brains do not benefit from exercise in the same way as older brains.
person walking in a forest
The new study found that young women who exercised regularly had higher oxygen availability in the frontal lobe of the brain and performed best on difficult cognitive tasks compared to counterparts who exercised less.
The new study, published in the journalPsychophysiology, comes from the University of Otago in New Zealand, where lead investigator Dr. Liana Machado is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology.
There is already a lot of evidence that aerobic exercise improves brain function in older adults, but how it affects young adults is somewhat unclear.
The new study found that young women who exercised regularly had higher oxygen availability in the frontal lobe of the brain and performed best on difficult cognitive tasks compared to counterparts who exercised less.
Oxygen availability is already known to be important in cognitive functioning, which among other things covers thinking, memory, learning, reasoning, intelligence, attention, visual and motor skills and language.

Source: journalPsychophysiology

Compound found in grapes, red wine may help prevent memory loss

A compound found in common foods such as red grapes and peanuts may help prevent age-related decline in memory, according to new research published by a faculty member in the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine.
Ashok K. Shetty, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine and Director of Neurosciences at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, has been studying the potential benefit of resveratrol, an antioxidant that is found in the skin of red grapes, as well as in red wine, peanuts and some berries.
Resveratrol has been widely touted for its potential to prevent heart disease, but Shetty and a team that includes other researchers from the health science center believe it also has positive effects on the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is critical to functions such as memory, learning and mood.
Because both humans and animals show a decline in cognitive capacity after middle age, the findings may have implications for treating memory loss in the elderly. Resveratrol may even be able to help people afflicted with severe neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.
In a study published online Jan. 28 in Scientific Reports, Shetty and his research team members reported that treatment with resveratrol had apparent benefits in terms of learning, memory and mood function in aged rats.
"The results of the study were striking," Shetty said. "They indicated that for the control rats who did not receive resveratrol, spatial learning ability was largely maintained but ability to make new spatial memories significantly declined between 22 and 25 months. By contrast, both spatial learning and memory improved in the resveratrol-treated rats."
Shetty said neurogenesis (the growth and development of neurons) approximately doubled in the rats given resveratrol compared to the control rats. The resveratrol-treated rats also had significantly improved microvasculature, indicating improved blood flow, and had a lower level of chronic inflammation in the hippocampus.
"The study provides novel evidence that resveratrol treatment in late middle age can help improve memory and mood function in old age," Shetty said.
Source:Scientific Reports

Study finds link between early menopause and CFS

A newfound link between chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and early menopause was reported online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). This link, as well as links with other gynecologic problems and with pelvic pain, may help explain why CFS is two to four times more common in women than in men and is most prevalent in women in their 40s. Staying alert to these problems may also help healthcare providers take better care of women who may be at risk for CFS, say the authors of this population-based, case-control study.
Based on a long-term study of CFS and fatiguing illnesses in Georgia, this analysis from Centers for Disease Control scientists included 84 women with CFS and 73 healthy control women who completed detailed gynecologic history questionnaires. Striking differences emerged from the comparison between those groups.
The women with CFS were some 12 times more likely to have pelvic pain that wasn't related to menstruation (such as pelvic floor dysfunction, interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome or IC/PBS, and irritable bowel syndrome) than the control women. The women with CFS also reported excessive bleeding (74% vs 42%) much more often as well as significantly more bleeding between periods (49% vs 23%) and missing periods (38% vs 22%). In addition, they used hormones for purposes other than contraception (such as to treat irregular periods, menopausal symptoms or bone loss) much more often (57% vs 26%).
Also striking, most women with CFS--66%--had undergone at least one gynecologic surgery, compared with only 32% of controls, most commonly hysterectomy (55% versus 19%). Women with CFS underwent menopause early (at or before age 45) because of hysterectomy much more often (62% vs 33%). (Surgical menopause occurs immediately when both ovaries are removed at hysterectomy and often prematurely even when ovaries are preserved.) Bleeding as the reason for hysterectomy was significantly more common in the women with CFS. They also underwent natural menopause earlier, but the numbers were too small to show a significant difference.
Although CFS has previously been linked with pelvic pain and gynecologic conditions such as endometriosis, IC/PBS, polycystic ovaries, and menstrual abnormalities, this is the first study to show a link with early menopause. Sex hormone abnormalities or their early decrease or disappearance may underlie these links, and the authors called for more research to find out whether they do play a role in causing or perpetuating CFS in some women. But meanwhile, they emphasized, women's healthcare providers need to stay alert for symptoms of CFS, such as sleep or memory problems, muscle and joint pain, and worse symptoms after exertion, developing in women who have these gynecologic or pelvic pain problems.
"CFS can take a tremendous toll on women's lives at midlife and on our society and healthcare system. Being aware of the association of CFS and earlier menopause can help providers assist women in sorting out symptoms of CFS from symptoms of menopause," says NAMS Executive Director Margery Gass, MD, NCMP. This paper also raises the chicken and egg question: Is early menopause the cause of later health problems or simply the result of earlier health problems not recognized as the cause of early menopause?

Pomegranate Has More 'Health Benefits' Than Any Other Fruit

Pomegranates are super healthy as they have more health benefits than any other fruit, proves a new research.

An analysis of the glut of global interest in the "superfruit" found it fights Type 2 diabetes, bowel and prostate cancers and improves athletic performance, the Daily Express reported. 

Bio-medical researcher with consultancy ClickTell, Sepe Sehati, said that when they look at the time and effort invested in studies worldwide, pomegranate is the main focus, adding in a year, 194 studies have been published, more than any other fruit. 

Sehati added that it has evidence that fruit juices and extracts have an impact on wellbeing. 

Sehati said that the accepted wisdom is that a superfruit is not a cure-all, but fruits can have beneficial health effects and pomegranates are an ancient fruit and have been thought to have health-giving properties for millennia. 

Sehati concluded that the study after study confirms this suggests the superfruit debate is not over.
 Source:Daily Express 


Diet Rich in Whole Grains, Polyunsaturated Fats, Nuts Help Keep Lungs Healthy and Disease Free

Consuming a diet rich in whole grains, polyunsaturated fats and nuts, and low in red and processed meat, refined grains and sugary drinks, helps keep the lungs healthy and disease free, according to researchers based in France and the USA. A rich diet is associated with a lower risk of chronic lung disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD), such as emphysema and bronchitis, which block the airways and restrict oxygen flow around the body, which is currently ranked the third leading cause of death worldwide.

A team of researchers set out to investigate the association between the Alternate Healthy Eating Index 2010 (AHEI-2010), a measure of diet quality based on current scientific knowledge, and the risk of COPD. They analyzed data for more than 120,000 US men and women participating in the Nurses' Health Study from 1984 to 2000 and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study from 1986 to 1998. The AHEI-2010 diet score is based on 11 components, with a higher score reflecting high intakes of vegetables, whole grains, polyunsaturated fats, nuts, and long chain omega-3 fats, moderate intake of alcohol, and low intakes of red and processed meats, refined grains, and sugar sweetened drinks. 

During the study period, 723 cases of newly diagnosed COPD occurred in women and 167 in men. After adjusting for 12 factors like age, physical activity, body mass index, smoking and ethnicity, the risk of newly diagnosed COPD was 1/3 lower in participants who ate the healthiest AHEI-2010 diet compared with those who ate the least healthy diet. The findings were similar in ex-smokers and current smokers, and in both women and men. 

Authors said, "It was a novel finding that supports the importance of diet in the pathogenesis of COPD. Although efforts to prevent COPD should continue to focus on smoking cessation, these prospective findings support the importance of a healthy diet in multi-interventional programs to prevent COPD." 

Source:The study has been published in The BMJ.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

DNA clock helps to get measure of people's lifespans

Scientists have identified a biological clock that provides vital clues about how long a person is likely to live.
Researchers studied chemical changes to DNA that take place over a lifetime, and can help them predict an individual's age. By comparing individuals' actual ages with their predicted biological clock age, scientists saw a pattern emerging.
People whose biological age was greater than their true age were more likely to die sooner than those whose biological and actual ages were the same.
Four independent studies tracked the lives of almost 5,000 older people for up to 14 years. Each person's biological age was measured from a blood sample at the outset, and participants were followed up throughout the study.
Researchers found that the link between having a faster-running biological clock and early death held true even after accounting for other factors such as smoking, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Scientists from the University of Edinburgh, in collaboration with researchers in Australia and the US, measured each person's biological age by studying a chemical modification to DNA, known as methylation.
The modification does not alter the DNA sequence, but plays an important role in biological processes and can influence how genes are turned off and on. Methylation changes can affect many genes and occur throughout a person's life.
Dr Riccardo Marioni, of the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, said: "The same results in four studies indicated a link between the biological clock and deaths from all causes. At present, it is not clear what lifestyle or genetic factors influence a person's biological age. We have several follow-up projects planned to investigate this in detail."
The study's principal investigator, Professor Ian Deary, also from the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, said: "This new research increases our understanding of longevity and healthy ageing. It is exciting as it has identified a novel indicator of ageing, which improves the prediction of lifespan over and above the contribution of factors such as smoking, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease."

'Feeding and fasting' hormone adropin can improve insulin action

In a study published inMolecular Metabolism, a SLU researcher has found that adropin, a hormone that regulates whether the body burns fat or sugar during feeding and fasting cycles, can improve insulin action in obese, diabetic mice, suggesting that it may work as a therapy for type 2 diabetes.
IMAGEAccording to the American Diabetes Association, 29.1 million Americans have diabetes, while 86 million Americans age 20 and older are thought to have a 'pre-diabetic' condition that includes increased fasting glucose and/or "impaired glucose tolerance." The numbers have been growing along with the country's obesity epidemic.
Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for the vast majority of cases of diabetes, occurs when a person's cells quit responding correctly to insulin, a condition called insulin resistance. When insulin does not do its job properly, glucose builds up in the blood and is unable to be used by cells. Over time, continuous increases in insulin and blood glucose can produce toxicity that can lead to nerve, eye, kidney or heart damage, as well as hardening of the arteries that, in turn, can cause heart attacks or stroke.
Several years ago, Andrew Butler, Ph.D., professor of pharmacological and physiological science at Saint Louis University, and his lab discovered the peptide hormone adropin.
"Adropin is a poorly understood hormone," Butler said. "We first reported its discovery a little over six years ago, but we really didn't understand what it did. We knew it played a role in maintaining metabolic health, but we didn't know much beyond that."
In another recent paper published recently in Diabetes, a monthly peer-reviewed medical journal published by the American Diabetes Association, Butler and team offered a first definition of adropin's functions that maintain metabolic health.
"When we measured adropin levels in mice, they were suppressed under fasting conditions and stimulated after feeding, suggesting functions related to the changes in metabolism that occur with feeding and fasting," Butler said. "Our work suggests that adropin plays a role in regulating metabolic (energy) homeostasis.
"Basically, when you are well fed, your body prefers to use glucose and the release of adropin supports this change by enhancing the use of glucose as a metabolic fuel in muscle. However, when you are fasting, your body prefers to use fatty acids. Our observations suggest that a decline in adropin with fasting may be a signal to "take the brakes off" the use of fatty acids."
Building on that work, the Molecular Metabolism paper reports that low levels of the hormone observed in obesity may contribute to diabetes and the reduced ability of the body to use glucose.
The team found that treatment with adropin improved glucose tolerance, enhanced insulin action and improved metabolic flexibility toward glucose utilization in situations of obesity and insulin resistance.
Butler describes the finding as an encouraging lead in the search for new treatments for impaired glucose tolerance.

"The hope is that adropin could someday be used in the clinic to help patients with type 2 diabetes control blood sugar levels and delay or prevent the development of the disease in at-risk individuals."

Overeating and Sugar Addiction Linked to Brain Circuit

Overeating and sugar addiction is found to be due to a specific brain circuit. The reward-related neural circuit specifically controls compulsive sugar consumption in mice. The control of sugar consumption could be done without preventing the feeding necessary for survival. This experiment provides a novel target for the safe and effective treatment of compulsive overeating in humans.

Senior study author Kay Tye of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said that although obesity and Type 2 diabetes were major problems, many treatments do not tackle the primary cause: unhealthy eating habits. Their findings were exciting as they raise the possibility of developing a treatment that could selectively curb compulsive overeating without altering healthy eating behavior. 

Tye and her team suspected that a neural pathway from the lateral hypothalamus to the ventral tegmental area might play an important role in compulsive overeating because these brain regions have been implicated in reward-related behaviors such as eating, sexual activity, and drug addiction. 

They used a technique called optogenetics. Activation of the pathway from the lateral hypothalamus to the ventral tegmental area caused well-fed mice to spend more time feeding and increased the number of times mice poked their nose into a port to receive a sugar reward, even when they had to cross a platform that delivered foot shocks to get to the reward. By contrast, inhibition of the same pathway reduced this compulsive sugar-seeking behavior without decreasing food consumption in hungry mice, suggesting that different neural circuits control feeding in hungry animals. 

According to Tye, it makes sense that brain circuits evolved to support binging on scarce, sugary foods whenever these valuable sources of energy become transiently available during certain seasons. But in the winter, it might be adaptive for separate neural circuits to drive hungry animals to eat whatever type of food is available but to consume less overall to ration out limited resources. 

Source:The study is published in the journal Cell.

Diabetes Could be Overcome With a 'Probiotic Pill'

Probiotic has been found to help in diabetes treatment in rats, suggesting that it can lead to human remedy. A strain of lactobacillus was made to secrete a Glucagon-like peptide-1 and given orally to rats.
 Diabetes Could be Overcome With a 'Probiotic Pill'
The Cornell University researchers engineered a strain of lactobacillus, a human probiotic common in the gut, to secrete a Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) and then administered it orally to diabetic rats for 90 days and found the rats receiving the engineered probiotic had up to 30 percent lower high blood glucose, a hallmark of diabetes. 

The study was a proof of principle and future work will test higher doses to see if a complete treatment can be achieved, said senior author John March. 

The researchers found that upper intestinal epithelial cells in diabetic rats were converted into cells that acted very much like pancreatic beta cells, which monitor blood glucose levels and secrete insulin as needed to balance glucose levels in healthy individuals. 

March added that the amount of time to reduce glucose levels following a meal is the same as in a normal rat and it is matched to the amount of glucose in the blood, just as it would be with a normal-functioning pancreas. It's moving the center of glucose control from the pancreas to the upper intestine. 

Also, though it replaces the insulin capacity in diabetic rats, the researchers found no change in blood glucose levels when administered to healthy rats. If the rat is managing its glucose, it doesn't need more insulin, March said. 

Source:The study is published in the journal Diabetes.

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