Gut Bacteria Influence Brain Functions, Immunity and Metabolism

Gut microbiota produce by-products which move throughout the bloodstream and regulate a host of physiological processes that include appetite, body temperature, metabolism, immunity and functions of the brain. Research has discovered in an animal model that hypothalamic neurons will detect differences of activity in the bacteria and change body temperature and appetite accordingly. The findings show that a direct dialog will occur between the brain and the gut microbiota. This is a finding that might point to advanced therapeutic ways to address metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes.

The largest bacteria reservoir in the body is the gut. Evidence is growing that acknowledges the degree of interdependence between hosts and their microbiota in the gut and highlights how important the brain-gut axis is. Neurobiologists and microbiologist have shown their expertise on how gut bacteria directly control the activity of certain neurons in the brain.

Researchers put their focus on the NOD2 receptor located inside of primarily immune cells. This particular receptor will detect if muropeptides are present. These are the supports of the cell wall bacteria. It has been established previously that the MOD2 receptor gene coding variants are linked to disorders of the digestive system which includes Crohn’s disease and also mood disorders and neurological diseases. However, this data was insufficient to show a direct relationship between activity of bacteria in the gut and brain activity. This was shown by the group of scientists in the recent study.

Utilizing techniques in brain imaging, the team first noticed in mice that the NOD2 receptor is transported by neurons in a variety of areas of the brain and particularly in the hypothalamus. These neurons’ electrical activity is repressed when contacting bacterial muropeptides from the gut. Muropeptides in the blood, brain and gut are thought to be markers of proliferation of bacteria. By contrast, if the NOD2 receptor is gone, these neurons are no longer suppressed by muropeptides. Therefore, the brain will lose control of intake and food and body temperature. The mice gained weight and are were more susceptible to the development of type 2 diabetes and in particular in older female mice.

In the study, the team have shown the astounding fact that neurons will perceive bacterial muropeptides directly. This job was thought to be mostly allocated to immune cells. It is extraordinary to find that bacterial fragments will act directly on a brain center that is as strategic as the hypothalamus. This part of the brain manages important functions such as temperature of the body, hunger, thirst, and reproduction.

The neurons appear to detect bacterial activity in both death and proliferation as a direct gauge of the impact of intake of food on the ecosystem of the intestines. The excessive consumption of a specific food could stimulate the disproportionate growth of certain pathogens or bacteria which jeopardizes the balance of the intestine.

The impact of muropeptides on metabolism and hypothalamic neurons raises questions on their possible part in other functions of the brain and may help in understanding the association between genetic variants of NOD2 and certain diseases of the brain. This finding paves a way for new interdisciplinary projects between immunology, neurosciences, and microbiology and eventually new therapeutic approaches to metabolic disorders and diseases of the brain.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Bacterial sensing via neuronal Nod2 regulates appetite and body temperature

Improve Sleep by Avoiding Blue Light

It was found from healthy young people who participated in a sleeping lab study that sleeping for just one night with low light (such as a TV with the sound off) raised their heart rate and blood sugar levels. The low light enters the eyes and will disrupt sleep even though the participants slept with their eyes closed.

Heart rate will normally drop at night which slows down the brain as it is busy rejuvenating and repairing the body. A raised heart rate at night has been shown in many studies to be a risk for early death and heart disease.

Insulin resistance happens when blood sugar levels are high. This is where the body quits properly using glucose and the pancreas works overtime increasing insulin in an effort to overcompensate until it will eventually lose its ability to work at all. Over time, resistance to insulin can lead to to Type 2 diabetes.

Previous research shows a link between light that is artificial at night with obesity and gaining weight. It can also lead to disruptions in insulin secretion, metabolic function and the development of cardiovascular risks and diabetes.

In the study, the team used 20 healthy individuals in their 20’s that slept for 2 nights in a sleep lab. They were in a darkened room the first night not being able to see anything even with the eyes open. All of the participants were connected to devices that monitor a variety of objective measures of quality of sleep. Data could then be obtained with little interference. They all had an IV that had long tubes that connected through a hole to the lab researchers. The blood was then drawn without bothering the sleeping participant.

From recording the brainwaves, the researchers could tell what stage of sleep the participant was in. The team recorded breathing, EKG and their heart rate. Blood was also drawn to measure the hormone melatonin levels during sleep which regulates the body’s circadian rhythm. The light used was not bright enough to lower levels of melatonin.

A randomized part of the group then repeated the same light level for a second night in the lab. Another group slept with a low overhead light that had a glow somewhat comparable to a very cloudy dark night with street lights coming in through a window with their eyelids closed. It is estimated that approximately 5%-10% of natural light could actually find its way though the closed eyelids which is a low level of light. Even the tiniest amount of light decreased rapid eye movement and slow wave sleep, the stages of sleep in which most of cellular renewal will occur.

They also had increases in insulin, heart rate was higher, and the fight or flight, and the rest and relax nervous systems were not in balance, which has been associated to a higher blood pressure in healthy people.

So what to do? Avoid blue light in the bedroom. All curtains and blinds should be closed, all lights that produce any blue turned off and a sleep mask is helpful. You can purchase night lights, light bulbs and flash lights that are blue free if you need any of those in your bedroom during the night. You can also purchase blue blocking glasses to wear for two hours before going to bed. That’s how long it takes after blue exposure stops before your endocrine system begins making melatonin naturally which is much more effective than supplements.

In addition, be aware of the types of lights. Completely ban lights in the blue spectrum in the bedroom such as electronic devices or tablets, smartphones, televisions and laptops.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Light exposure during sleep impairs cardiometabolic function

Sound Partially Destroys Tumors That Don’t Come Back

The University of Michigan has discovered that noninvasive technology of sound can break down tumors in the liver of rats. It can also kill cancer cells and stimulate the immune system to prevent any continued spread. This potentially could lead to advances in improved outcomes of cancer in humans.

The procedure doesn’t target the whole tumor but destroys 50-75% of the tumors volume. The animals immune system has the ability to clear away the rest with no recurrence evident in more than 80% of the rats. Even if the entire liver isn’t targeted, the team could still cause a regression of the tumor and reduce the risk of metastasis in the future.

The treatment was also shown to stimulate the animals response of the immune system. This potentially contributes to the ultimate regression of the portion of the tumor that was not targeted and prevents additional growth of the cancer.

The treatment which is called histotripsy, focuses noninvasively ultrasound waves that mechanically eradicates, with millimeter precision, any targeted tissue. This rather new technique is currently used in trials of liver cancer in humans in the U.S. and Europe.

In numerous clinical occurrences, the entire cancerous tumor can’t be directly targeted in treatments for reasons that entail the mass’ location, size and stage. To research the results from partially destroyed tumors with the use of sound, the newest study targeted just a part of each mass, leaving behind an intact tumor that was viable. In addition it allowed the team to reveal the effectiveness of the approach under conditions that had limited conditions.

Histotripsy is an encouraging choice that can overcome the restrictions of presently available ablation modalities and provide effective and safe noninvasive removal of the liver tumor. The team hopes that the results from their study will prompt preclinical and clinical histrotripsy research in the future towards the eventual goal of adoption of histotripsy treatment for patients with liver cancer.

Cancer of the liver is among the top 10 causes of global deaths related to cancer. With the current treatment options, the prognosis is poor with fewer than 18% in the U.S. having a five year survival rate. The occurrence is high of tumor metastasis and recurrence following initial treatment which shows the clinical need for the improvement for people with cancer of the liver.

The normal ultrasound utilizes sound waves to produce images of the interior of the body. This new technique by the team is pioneering the utilization of these waves for treatment. Additionally their treatment will work without the side effects that are harmful with current treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation.

The transducer they have designed and made has the ability to deliver high magnitude microsecond-length ultrasound currents to center on the tumor to break it up. Traditional devices that are ultrasound use decreased amplitude currents for imaging.

The long microsecond currents from the team’s transducer cause micro bubbles within the tissues that are targeted. These bubbles will rapidly enlarge and disintegrate. These violent but very localized mechanical pulses kill cells that are cancerous and break up the structure of the tumor.

Recently the team’s study has produced results that are promising on histrotripsy treatment of immunotherapy and brain therapy.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Impact of Histotripsy on Development of Intrahepatic Metastases in a Rodent Liver Tumor Model

Stem Like Regenerative Cell Type Discovered in Human Lungs

Research highlighting a new type of cell discovered in the human lung could play an important role in treating diseases of the lungs. The study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the Univ. of Pennsylvania have reported their discovery of finding and identifying the new cells.

The new cells are called respiratory airway secretory cells or RASCs. They are found deep in the human lungs and line airway branches near bronchi structures that exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide. Because they are similar to stem cells they can regenerate other essential cells for bronchi to function normally. But if a person smokes or has COPD this regenerative function can be disrupted and, therefore, the RASCs will not be effective. Research can be done to see if this disruption can be corrected.

COPD, which is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is quite common and can be devastating. It is not known how or why some people develop it but it progressively damages the bronchi and elevates chronic inflammation. Currently in some parts of the U.S. it affects about 10% of people and around the globe there are approximately 3,000,000 deaths. The treatment is usually steroid anti-inflammatory drugs along with oxygen therapy but they can only slow the process instead of stopping or reversing it.

By finding new cell types like progenitor cells that are injured by COPD, it may help in developing new treatments. COPD is still not understood completely because the current studies use mice and their lungs are missing some important features similar to human lungs.

But now new evidence has been uncovered from the examination of gene activity lung cell signatures showing RASCs present. These cells do not exist in mouse lungs. They found that RASC cells are seretory cells residing near bronchi and are used to produce proteins that are essential to the fluid lining of airways.

The researchers note that studies of this magnitude help discover at the cell-biology level just what is occurring when a person has COPD. From observing similarities between gene activity and RASCs along with a progenitor cell in brochi called AT2 further discoveries can be made. Because of the secretory function of RASCs they may act as precursors for AT2 cells which would regenerate them to keep the AT2 population and bronchi healthy.

When COPD is present in a person, their AT2 cells become abnormal. The RASCs may have defects that enhance these abnormalities creating a faulty RASC-to-AT2 transformation in people with COPD and people that smoke.

With more research there is great possibility that new treatments can be discovered that can restore normal RASC-to-AT2 transformation in people with damaged lungs.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Human distal airways contain a multipotent secretory cell that can regenerate alveoli

New Spinal Therapy Using Yamanaka Stem Cell Factors

In the world of aging research, using the Yamanaka stem cell factors for cellular reprogramming has become very important. Yamanaka factors are four master genes that were discovered by Drs. Kazutoshi and Shinya Yamanaka and are used to reprogram cells back to an embryonic state. It has now been suggested that transient exposure to them may be the key to treating many health problems such as vertebral disc degeneration.

These genes have the ability to turn back the biological clock in old cells by reprogramming them. By limiting the length of treatment cells can be returned to a younger state without going all the way back to embryonic. That makes cells epigenetically younger and partially reverses cellular aging.

It has been previously shown in living animals by using the Yamanaka factors, that they can reverse the biological age of cells. New research is now ongoing to make this technology safe enough for humans. This could have the potential of rejuvenating tissues and organs that have aged, therefore, changing the future of aging.

As it relates to the back, intervetebral disc degeneration (IDD) is closely associated with lower back pain. This condition is where the bones of the spine and the discs that separate the vertebrae break down. It leads to pain in the back, neck and even in the legs and hands. It causes loss of mobility and is an extreme burden to society.

This study examined using the Yamanaka factors as a potential therapy for IDD. Using a mouse model they tested short-term cyclic exposure. They found that the progression of IDD was inhibited with several treatments.

They also took a look at the jelly-like substance that is located in the center of an intervertebral disc. It is used to distribute hydraulic pressure between the discs when movement or load is put on the back. When partial cellular reprogramming was used it resulted in preventing characteristics that were age-related from forming. This was achieved by an increase in the expression of HK2 (hexokinase 2), which activates energy metabolism. This, in turn, promotes the cytoskeleton redistribution into a more youthful form.

This new research helps to understand the potential mechanisms and effects of partial cellular reprogramming in people with IDD. This will help in creating new therapies for IDD and other conditions. It is hopeful that in the future this technology may be able to prevent aging and age-related diseases.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Partial reprogramming strategy for intervertebral disc rejuvenation by activating energy switch

New Essential Fatty Acid Discovered – Needed to Maintain Health

A discovery of an essential nutrient has been found that the body needs to maintain health. The research from Seraphina Therapeutics in San Diego discovered the first essential fatty acid. It is known as pentadecanoic acid, also called C15:0. It has been shown to have broad health benefits and can be found in saturated fat from butter, milk, plants and fish. Currently there is omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that are considered essential by nutrition scientists. C15:0 would join these fatty acids and could be the first of other essential nutrients that could now be found.

The new findings are very promising but more research needs to be done. The current results in the study show that when C15:0 was used on over a dozen different human cell systems the results were lower inflammation and less tissue scarring. The human cells that were used mimicked immune disorders, chronic inflammation and fibrosis.

Studies on obese mice found that a 3-month supplementation of C15:0 resulted in a lowering of glucose and cholesterol levels.

C15:0 is found in dairy foods but there are certain types of plants and fish that could also be sources for it. Foods could be fortified with it as well as supplements. Because it can strengthen red blood cells and ease chronic inflammation it might help treat anemia.

C15:0 is considered an odd-chain saturated fatty acid that is better for a person than an even-chain but most people are not getting enough of it. It can be found in whole milk and butter but in the last 40 years people have been discouraged from using these products because of the risk of heart disease. While the even-chain fatty acids are considered unhealthy in large quantities this new odd-chain fatty acid can strengthen outer cells which can protect from inflammation as we get older.

A deeper understanding of the benefits of C15:0 as an important part of a person’s diet needs to be shown. When people cut back on foods that contain it this increases the potential for diseases. Obesity, Type 2 diabetes and metabolic liver disease have been on the increase since nutritionists have suggested cutting back on saturated fat consumption.

In the future, higher levels of C15:0 could be added to beverages such as plant-based milk and foods much like calcium, vitamins and probiotics currently are to further enhance their nutrient value. As more study is done it is going to be shown that not just dairy is a beneficial source of C15:0 but also certain types of plants and fish. This could increase demand for these foods and may help cut the rate of diseases.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Efficacy of dietary odd-chain saturated fatty acid pentadecanoic acid parallels broad associated health benefits in humans: could it be essential?

Microbes Can Turn Back the Clock to Reverse Aging in Brain

New research has introduced a new approach to reverse aspects of age related cognitive function and deterioration in the brain through the microbes in the gut.

As the population is aging, one of the main worldwide challenges is to develop new strategies to maintain the health of function of the brain. The new research has opened up possible therapeutic avenues in the form of microbial based interventions which will slow down aging of the brain and associated problems with cognition.

There is growing interest and appreciation of gut microbes in all areas of medicine and physiology. In the newest mouse study the researchers have shown that through transplanting microbes from young mice into older mice they can rejuvenate aspects of immune function and the brain.

Earlier research has shown that gut microbiome plays a significant role in the process of aging. The latest research is a possible game changer as the team has established that the gut microbiome can be harnessed to reverse brain deterioration due to aging. They also saw evidence of improved ability to learn and cognitive function. It is still early and more work is needed to transfer the findings to humans.

The team further demonstrates the significance of the microbiome in the gut in a variety of health aspects and especially across the gut/brain axis where functioning of the brain can be influenced in a positive manner. The study shows possibilities for the future in modulating gut microbiata as a therapeutic target to influencing health of the brain.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Microbiota from young mice counteracts selective age-associated behavioral deficits

The Surprising Benefits of Drinking Coffee

Do you drink coffee daily? New research shows that there are benefits from caffeine on your cardiovascular and digestive systems.

High levels of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. A study from McMaster University showed that the amount of caffeine in 2-3 cups of coffee a day reduced LDL cholesterol. Consuming caffeine on a regular basis has also been linked to reduced blood levels of the PCSK9 protein. This protein helps the liver remove excess LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream. The research has discovered the underlying mechanism as to how caffeine and its derivatives mitigate levels of blood PCSK9.

The researchers discovered that caffeine and its derivatives block a protein called SREBP2. When this happens, the protein PCSK9 is reduced. Current study results have shown that coffee and tea drinkers display a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease. This is the first time an explanation has been made as to why this is.

Because the protein SREBP2 is connected to cardiometabolic diseases, such as fatty liver and diabetes this discovery has many implications. They can now link caffeine to metabolism of cholesterol at a molecular level. In the process of the study they developed new caffeine derivatives that can greatly lower blood PCSK9 levels. This is very promising and could lead to new treatments for high LDL cholesterol levels.

In a new review of previous studies it is shown that drinking coffee can stimulate biliary, gastric and pancreatic secretions. This, in turn can influence the digestive process by aiding acid production in the stomach, pancreatic and bile secretion and colon motility.

After drinking coffee the first organs it comes into contact with are in the gastrointestinal tract. The findings show that coffee consumption of 3-5 cups a day did not generate any harmful effects. It is very interesting that the study also showed a reduced risk of gallstones and pancreatitis, although more research on this is needed.

As coffee travels down the gastrointestinal tract, its impact on gastric, biliary and pancreatic secretions is necessary for digestion of food. It helps stimulate production of gastrin, a digestive hormone, and hydrochloric acid, which both help break down food. The secretion of a hormone that increases the production of bile, called cholecystokinin is also stimulated.

Another benefit of coffee consumption is changes to gut microbiota by improving the level of Bifidobacteria, which inhabit the gastrointestinal tract. Colon motility is also improved. This is the process of food traveling through the digestive tract. The study found that it is stimulated 23% more than decaf coffee and 60% more than a glass of water and could reduce risk of chronic constipation. In some cases, drinking coffee produces a protective effect against constipation.

So drink a cup or two of coffee a day. It can be beneficial.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Caffeine blocks SREBP2-induced hepatic PCSK9 expression to enhance LDLR-mediated cholesterol clearance
Effects of Coffee on the Gastro-Intestinal Tract: A Narrative Review and Literature Update

New Therapy Removes Unhealthy Cells From Blood With Magnets

An engineer has discovered a way to filter unwanted blood cells using magnets. His tool might be able to be used in clinical trials within the next year.

The biochemical engineer knew there was the possibility to force magnetic nanoparticles to bind to specific cells found in the body. However, while other researchers did so mainly to make those cells available in images, he wondered if the identical technique could allow doctors to remove cells that were unwanted from blood.

When a person has a tumor it is cut out. Cancer of the blood is a tumor in the blood so why could it not be taken out the same way?

MediSieve was created which is a treatment technology that works very much like dialysis through removing blood from a patient and infusing it with magnetic nanoparticles which are made to bind to a particular disease. Then it uses magnets to draw out and then trap the cells prior to pumping the blood that has been filtered back into the patient.

The thought is that doctors could run a patient’s blood through the machine many times until their levels of the disease are low enough to be wiped out by medicine or even by the patient’s very own immune system.

The team is now waiting approval to trial their system on patients infected with malaria which is naturally magnetic due to its consumption of its own iron based waste product.

In theory, anything could be gone after. Pathogens, poisons, bacteria, viruses and anything that can be specifically bound to can be removed. It is a very powerful possible tool.

Airway Stem Cells Work Together in Regeneration and Aging

Researchers conducting a new study have identified the process of how stem cells located in the airways of the lungs switch between two distinct phases. They create more of themselves and produce mature airway cells to regenerate lung tissue following an injury.

The study additionally sheds light on how aging can lead to lung regeneration going awry which can lead to cancer of the lungs and other diseases. Currently there are few therapies that target the biology of diseases that affect the lungs. The new findings will assist researchers in efforts to develop targeted therapies to improve the health of the airway.

The airways carry the air that is breathed in from the mouth and nose to the lungs. They are the body’s first line of defense against airborne particles such as pollution and germs that can lead to illness. The two types of airway stem cells have a vital role in this process. Mucus cells secrete mucus to trap harmful particles. Ciliated cells use their finger like projections to sweep the mucus engulfed particles up to the back of the throat and then cleared out of the lungs.

Infectious and toxic particles which people breathe in every day can lead to injury of the airways. When this happens, airway basal stem cells which are capable of self-renewing and producing mucus and the ciliated cells which line the airways, are activated to repair any damage.

In order to keep the correct balance of each type of cell, airway basal stem cells must transition from the proliferative phase where they produce more of themselves, to the differentiation phase where they give rise to mature airway stem cells.

These particular stem cells must maintain a very delicate equilibrium. They need to produce just the correct amount of mucus and ciliated cells in order to keep harmful particles out of the lungs. They must also self-replicate to ensure there will be enough of these stem cells to respond to the next injury.

For the study, the research team examined mice who had lung injuries. They analyzed how the different kinds of cells found in the supportive environment that surrounds airway basal stem cells, work together to insure the repair response.

They discovered that a group of molecules known as the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway activate to stimulate the basal stem cells found in the airway to respond to injury. They were surprised to discover that this molecule group originates in one cell type to initiate proliferation and a different cell type to initiate differentiation.

During the proliferation phase of repair, a connective tissue cell known as a fibroblast secretes the Wnt molecule which then signals to the stem cell that it is time to self-renew. During the differentiation phase of repair, the Wnt molecule is secreted by an epithelial cell which make up the lining of organs and tissues, to signal to the stem cells that it is time to produce mature airway cells.

Understanding how the regeneration process works in healthy lungs is an important first step to understanding how disease can occur when the process goes wrong. In order to gain insights into what role this process and the cells that activate it could play in disease, the team studied its activity in older mice.

They were surprised to find that in the airways of the aging mice, the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway is active in the stem cells even when there is no injury. This is in contrast to the airways of young mice where it is only activated when necessary. When the pathway is active, it stimulates the stem cells to produce more stem cells and more airway stem cells even when they are not needed.

Early research has established a connection between a more active Wnt/beta-catenin pathway and lung cancer. The more a cell divides, the greater the chance that a mutation or a proofreading error can occur which can lead to cancer.

The new study builds on this work by establishing not only what goes wrong, but exactly when it goes wrong in otherwise healthy people as part of the process of aging. The findings have given researchers insight into which types of stem cells are important, which pathway is also important and when therapies to prevent the formation of cancer might be developed.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Distinct Spatiotemporally Dynamic Wnt-Secreting Niches Regulate Proximal Airway Regeneration and Aging.