YOU ARE AS OLD AS WHAT YOU EAT
From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Posted on August 24, 2014 By Stone Hearth News University College, London, UK The Journal of Clinical Investigation,
Researchers from UCL (University College London) have demonstrated how an interplay between nutrition, metabolism and immunity is involved in the process of ageing.
The two new studies, supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), could help to enhance our immunity to disease through dietary intervention and help make existing immune system therapies more effective.
As we age our immune systems decline. Older people suffer from increased incidence and severity of both infections and cancer. In addition, vaccination becomes less efficient with age.
In previous BBSRC funded work, Professor Arne Akbar’s group at UCL showed that ageing in immune system cells known as ‘T lymphocytes’ was controlled by a molecule called ‘p38 MAPK’ that acts as a brake to prevent certain cellular functions.
They found that this braking action could be reversed by using a p38 MAPK inhibitor, suggesting the possibility of rejuvenating old T cells using drug treatment.
In a new study published today in Nature Immunology the group shows that p38 MAPK is activated by low nutrient levels, coupled with signals associated with age, or senescence, within the cell.
It has been suspected for a long time that nutrition, metabolism and immunity are linked and this paper provides a prototype mechanism of how nutrient and senescence signals converge to regulate the function of T lymphocytes.
The study also suggests that the function of old T lymphocytes could be reconstituted by blocking one of several molecules involved in the process. The research was conducted at UCL alongside colleagues from Complejo Hospitalario de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.
The second paper, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, showed that blocking p38 MAPK boosted the fitness of cells that had shown signs of ageing; improving the function of mitochondria (the cellular batteries) and enhancing their ability to divide.
Extra energy for the cell to divide was generated by the recycling of intracellular molecules, a process known as autophagy. This highlights the existence of a common signaling pathway in old/senescent T lymphocytes that controls their immune function as well as metabolism, further underscoring the intimate association between ageing and metabolism of T lymphocytes.
This study was conducted by researchers from UCL, Cancer Research UK, University of Oxford and University of Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.
Professor Arne Akbar said: “Our life expectancy at birth is now twice as long as it was 150 years ago and our lifespans are on the increase. Healthcare costs associated with ageing are immense and there will be an increasing number of older people in our population who will have a lower quality of life due in part to immune decline. It is therefore essential to understand reasons why immunity decreases and whether it is possible to counteract some of these changes.
“An important question is whether this knowledge can be used to enhance immunity during ageing. Many drug companies have already developed p38 inhibitors in attempts to treat inflammatory diseases. One new possibility for their use is that these compounds could be used to enhance immunity in older subjects. Another possibility is that dietary instead of drug intervention could be used to enhance immunity since metabolism and senescence are two sides of the same coin.”
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond. Funded by Government, BBSRC invested over £484M in world-class bioscience in 2013-14. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
About UCL (University College London)
Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. We are among the world’s top universities, as reflected by performance in a range of international rankings and tables. UCL currently has almost 29,000 students from 150 countries and in the region of 10,000 employees. Our annual income is more than £900 million.
CODEINE-CONTAINING COUGH SYRUPS CAUSE IMPULSIVITY, LESS WHITE MATTER IN BRAIN
From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Posted on August 20, 2014 By Stone Hearth News – American Society of Neuroradiology – Eureka Alert
An imaging study of chronic users of codeine-containing cough syrups (CCS) has found deficits in specific regions of brain white matter and associates these changes with increased impulsivity in CCS users.
Researchers used diffusuion tensor imaging (DTI) (an MR imaging technique), coupled with fractional anisotropy, to investigate the white matter integrity of chronic CCS users. Deficits were found in multiple regions of the brain, including the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, which other studies have found to be abnormal in other forms of addiction, such as addiction to the Internet, alcohol and heroin.
The study found the white matter deficits in CCS users also correlated with increased impulsivity traits in the subjects, as measured by the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale. These findings were consistent with results of previous studies of heroin and cocaine addicts. White matter disruptions also correlated with the duration of CCS use.
Codeine-containing cough syrups have become one of the most popular drugs of abuse in young people around the world. Progressive changes in the white matter of users’ brains may cause greater impulsivity in CCS users.
The study, titled “Abnormal White Matter Integrity in Chronic Users of Codeine-Containing Cough Syrups: A Tract-Based Spatial Statistics Study,” was published this month on the website of the American Journal of Neuroradiology and will be available in print in the January 2015 issue of the AJNR.
The American Journal of Neuroradiology (AJNR) is published by the American Society of Neuroradiology (ASNR), a professional association of more than 5,000 members who specialize in diagnostic radiology of the central nervous system, brain, head and neck through the use of X-ray, MRI, CT and angiography. The ASNR was founded in 1962 and is headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois.
VISION LOSS ADVERSELY AFFECTS DAILY FUNCTION, WHICH CAN INCREASE RISK FOR DEATH
From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Posted on August 21, 2014 By Stone Hearth News- Eureka Alert-AAAS, The Science Society-Ophthalmol.
Bottom Line: Vision loss can adversely affect the ability of older adults to perform instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), such as using the telephone, shopping and doing housework, which are all measures of an individual’s ability to live independently, and that subsequently increases the risk for death.
Author: Sharon L. Christ, Ph.D., of Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., and colleagues.
Background: Visual impairment (VI) can have negative effects on a person’s physical and psychosocial health. VI is associated with a variety of functional and health outcomes.
How the Study Was Conducted: The authors used data from the Salisbury Eye Evaluation study to examine the extent to which visual acuity (VA) loss increased the risk for death because of its effect on functional status over time. The study included 2,520 older adults (65 to 84 years) from September 1993 through July 2003 from the greater Salisbury, Md., area. Study participants were reassessed at 2, 6 and 8 years after baseline.
Results: Declines in VA acuity over time were associated with increased mortality risk in part because of decreasing levels of IADL over time. Individuals who experienced increasing difficulty with IADL had an increase in mortality risk that was 3 percent greater annually and 31 percent greater during the 8-year study period than individuals with a stable IADL difficulty level. Participants who experienced the decline in VA of one letter on an acuity chart were expected to have a 16 percent increase in mortality risk during the 8-year study because of associated declines in IADL levels.
Discussion: “Our findings have multiple implications. First, these findings reinforce the need for the primary prevention of VI. …Moreover, the early detection of disabling eye diseases is suboptimal in the U.S. health care system, leading to otherwise preventable VI. Finally, many Americans live with VI that is correctable through the proper fitting of glasses or contact lenses. A second implication of our findings suggests that when uncorrectable VI is present, helping affected individuals maintain robust IADL is important.”
This study was supported by a grant from the National Eye Institute.