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Inflammation might be the root of preventable disease | Harvard Magazine

Because these compounds have not yet been synthesized as pharmaceuticals, maintaining healthy levels of SPMs is best supported by foods rich in the essential fatty acids EPA, DHA, and arachidonic acid. “There’s a reason they are called ‘essential,’” says Serhan. “You can only get them from your diet.” Fish contains all three, although arachidonic acid is also present in chicken, eggs, and beef, and EPA and DHA can be obtained from certain plant sources and algae. It’s ironic, he points out, that veterinary science has ensured that lab animals (and even pets) in the United States eat better than most people do, because animal food is fortified with omega-3s. Most Americans, he believes, don’t eat enough of them.

Inflammation might be the root of preventable disease | Harvard Magazine

Think about how over-the-counter anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen work. They block a particular signal. But Serhan discovered that aspirin works differently (and in a multi-faceted way): rather than blocking inflammatory signals, it attenuates them. In addition, it has mild anti-coagulant properties that are beneficial in atherosclerosis. And perhaps most importantly, aspirin stimulates the production of at least two classes of health-promoting SPMs. In work published as this magazine went to press, Serhan and colleagues showed that aspirin stimulates the production of a distinct type of SPM that fights cancer tumors in mice, and another SPM that inhibits cancer tumor formation in the first place

Inflammation might be the root of preventable disease | Harvard Magazine

“Chronic inflammation is uniformly damaging and is absolutely causal to the process, because if you interfere with it, you can reverse the pathology.” And this ability to control such diseases simply by reversing inflammation is a biological response, dating far back to the time of a common ancestor, that has been retained across diverse species of animals to the present day, he says, pointing to experimental evidence: “If you can make Drosophila [fruit fly] diabetic, and then block the inflammatory response systems, you can cure diabetes in Drosophila, the same way you can reverse it in the mouse, in primates, and in humans, provided that you do it with the right tools. Of course, the higher the organism, the more complex these pathways are, so it takes more effort to define the precise mechanisms to manipulate.”

Inflammation might be the root of preventable disease | Harvard Magazine

He is the physician-scientist who first demonstrated that a molecule called C-reactive protein (CRP), easily measured by a simple and now ubiquitous blood test, could be used like a thermometer to take the temperature of a patient’s inflammation. Elevated CRP, he discovered years ago, predicts future cardiovascular events, including heart attacks. Although nobody knows what it does biologically, this marker is downstream from IL-1beta, and thus provides a reliable yardstick of that pro-inflammatory pathway’s level of activation.

Study links fluorescent lighting to inflammation and immune response - Neuroscience News

“In this report, we show genome-wide changes of gene expression patterns in skin, brain and liver for two commonly utilized fish experimental models (zebrafish and Japanese rice fish, also known as medaka), and a mammalian (mice), following exposure to 4,100 K ‘cool-white’ fluorescent light,” Walter said. “In spite of the extreme divergence of these animals (i.e., estimated divergence of mice and fish about 450 million years), and drastically different lifestyles (i.e., diurnal fish and nocturnal mice), the same highly conserved primary genetic response that involves activation of inflammation and immune pathways as part of an overall acute phase response was observed in the skin, brain and liver of all three animals. Follow-up studies to further define this response in mice are underway.”

Pure Omega-3 prescription drug markedly reduces first, repeat and total CV events: New data show 4 gram dose of icosapent ethyl may be new, cost-effective way to prevent CV complications among patients with elevated triglycerides who have heart disease or diabetes -- ScienceDaily

Compared with placebo, icosapent ethyl cut the combined rate of first and subsequent cardiovascular deaths, nonfatal heart attacks or strokes, procedures for coronary artery disease such as stenting, or hospitalizations for unstable angina (the study's primary endpoint) by 30 percent, demonstrating the drug may be more protective than previously reported. Earlier analyses of the Reduction of Cardiovascular Events with Icosapent Ethyl-Intervention Trial (REDUCE-IT), which were primarily focused on the first occurrence of a major adverse cardiovascular event, found a 25 percent reduction. This latest analysis aimed to determine the extent to which the drug reduced the total burden of (first and subsequent) cardiovascular events. "In looking at the totality of events -- not just the first ones, but subsequent ones too -- we see that the drug provides even greater reductions in ischemic events. By looking only at first events, we underestimate the true underlying treatment benefit offered," said Deepak L. Bhatt, MD, MPH, executive director of interventional cardiovascular programs at Brigham and Women's Hospital, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the study's lead author. "From a patient's perspective certainly, and from a physician's point of view, icosapent ethyl's impact on total events is what matters most."

Inflammation links heart disease and depression -- ScienceDaily

This finding was given further support by the next stage of the team's research. They used a technique known as Mendelian randomisation to investigate 15 biomarkers -- biological 'red flags' -- associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease. Mendelian randomisation is a statistical technique that allows researchers to rule out the influence of factors that otherwise confuse, or confound, a study, such as social status. Of these common biomarkers, they found that triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood) and the inflammation-related proteins IL-6 and CRP were also risk factors for depression. Both IL-6 and CRP are inflammatory markers that are produced in response to damaging stimuli, such as infection, stress or smoking. Studies by Dr Khandaker and others have previously shown that people with elevated levels of IL-6 and CRP in the blood are more prone to develop depression, and that levels of these biomarkers are high in some patients during acute depressive episode. Elevated markers of inflammation are also seen in people with treatment resistant depression. This has raised the prospect that anti-inflammatory drugs might be used to treat some patients with depression. Dr Khandaker is currently involved in a clinical trial to test tocilizumab, an anti-inflammatory drug used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis that inhibits IL-6, to see if reducing inflammation leads to improvement in mood and cognitive function in patients with depression. While the link between triglycerides and coronary heart disease is well documented, it is not clear why they, too, should contribute to depression. The link is unlikely to be related by obesity, for example, as this study has found no evidence for a causal link between body mass index (BMI) and depression.

Blood clot discovery could pave way for treatment of blood diseases -- ScienceDaily

Amongst other unwanted effects, free radicals play a role in the build-up of blood clots, which in turn are considered a key driver in the a development of a range of conditions, including heart disease, stroke, dementia, and inflammation-related conditions such as arthritis. The new technique is outlined in research published in Haematologica. The technique combines electron paramagnetic resonance, a cutting-edge method for detecting free radicals, with blood cell aggregometry, an established technique for measuring blood clotting. The team has successfully used the technique in mice and in human cells. They aim to better understand how blood cells function, which will help to develop new drugs against blood clotting diseases or to test the risk of clotting diseases in patients.

New scan technique reveals brain inflammation associated with post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome -- ScienceDaily

Results of the study, published in Journal of Neuroinflammation, suggest new avenues for treating the long-term fatigue, pain, sleep disruption and "brain fog" associated with PTLDS, the researchers say. "There's been literature suggesting that patients with PTLDS have some chronic inflammation somewhere, but until now we weren't able to safely probe the brain itself to verify it," says Jennifer Coughlin, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and one of the first authors of the study report. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans through tick bites. An estimated 300,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, and their infections can be successfully treated with antibiotics. Doctors diagnose PTLDS if treated patients report fatigue and brain fog for at least six months after treatment. Little is known about what causes PTLDS or how to treat it, and while studies have shown that people with PTLDS have elevated markers of inflammation -- such as the chemokine CCL19 -- in their bloodstreams, it has not been clear where that inflammation may be occurring. Over the last decade, Coughlin and her colleagues optimized a positron emission tomography (PET) imaging technique in which specially labeled molecules -- or radiotracers -- bind to a protein called translocator protein (TSPO). In the brain, TSPO is released primarily by two types of brain immune cells -- microglia and astrocytes -- so levels of TSPO are higher when brain inflammation is present.

Forget the Blood of Teens. Metformin Promises to Extend Life for a Nickel a Pill | WIRED

He was confident that metformin was good enough for the job. He has maintained this confidence ever since he read a 2014 study that reviewed the fate of 90,400 type 2 diabetics taking either metformin or another medication. The metformin patients in the study not only outlived the diabetics taking the other drug—a not especially surprising result if metformin is a superior treatment—but also outlived the nondiabetics studied as a comparison.

What if the Placebo Effect Isn’t a Trick? - The New York Times

The findings of the I.B.S. study were in keeping with a hypothesis Kaptchuk had formed over the years: that the placebo effect is a biological response to an act of caring; that somehow the encounter itself calls forth healing and that the more intense and focused it is, the more healing it evokes. He elaborated on this idea in a comparative study of conventional medicine, acupuncture and Navajo “chantway rituals,” in which healers lead storytelling ceremonies for the sick. He argued that all three approaches unfold in a space set aside for the purpose and proceed as if according to a script, with prescribed roles for every participant. Each modality, in other words, is its own kind of ritual, and Kaptchuk suggested that the ritual itself is part of what makes the procedure effective, as if the combined experiences of the healer and the patient, reinforced by the special-but-familiar surroundings, evoke a healing response that operates independently of the treatment’s specifics. “Rituals trigger specific neurobiological pathways that specifically modulate bodily sensations, symptoms and emotions,” he wrote. “It seems that if the mind can be persuaded, the body can sometimes act accordingly.”

Endurance Exercise Training Has Beneficial Effects on Gut Bacteria Composition - Neuroscience News

“We found that phospholipids and cholesterol in VLDL particles decreased in response to exercise. These changes are beneficial for cardiometabolic health because VLDL transports lipids from the liver to peripheral tissues, converts into ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in the circulation, and thus has detrimental cardiovascular effects.” Exercise training also decreased Vascular adhesion protein-1 activity, which can have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects especially on vasculature, though the underlying mechanisms could not be determined in this study. Whether Akkermansia mediates the health benefits of exercise is under further investigation

Cannabis link to relieving intestinal inflammation explained -- ScienceDaily

The researchers discovered that gut inflammation is regulated by two important processes, which are constantly in flux and responding to changing conditions in the intestinal environment. The first process, identified in previous scientific research, promotes an aggressive immune response in the gut that destroys dangerous pathogens, but which can also damage the lining of the intestine when immune cells attack indiscriminately. The second pathway, first described in this paper, turns off the inflammation response via special molecules transported across the epithelial cells lining the gut by the same process already known to remove toxins from these cells into the intestine cavity. Crucially, this response requires a naturally-produced molecule called an endocannabinoid, which is very similar to cannabinoid molecules found in cannabis. If the endocannabinoid isn't present, inflammation isn't kept in balance and it can run unchecked, as the body's immune cells attack the intestinal lining.

Reward and unease are closely linked in the brain -- ScienceDaily

One of the key components of the reward system is the signal substance dopamine, which acts as a chemical messenger between nerve cells. Dopamine stimulates motivation and causes animals and humans to exert themselves to achieve anything that is experienced as rewarding. When the researchers examined the dopamine-based signalling in the brain, they saw that the dopamine level in normal mice fell in the reward centre of the brain when the animals experienced something unpleasant. In contrast, it increased slightly in the mice that lacked melanocortin 4 receptors. "It seems that this receptor in some way prevents danger signals from activating the reward system. If the receptor is missing, the danger signals will gain access to the reward system and activate it. This means that mice that lack the receptor will seek out things that are associated with danger or discomfort," says David Engblom.

Video: The Underlying Mechanisms of Depression

While it’s likely that there may be more going on with depression than just inflammation by itself, it could be an incredibly useful lens through which to look at promising avenues to potentially treat or prevent it, since controlling systemic inflammation shows promise as being both important for longevity and health in general. Moreover, inflammation can be clinically monitored by well-known biomarkers for systemic inflammation, making it amenable to potentially tracking therapeutic success: the risk of major depression has been shown to increase by 44% for each standard deviation increase in log c-reactive protein.

The immune system and the pathogenesis of depression

During chronic infections and other chronic medical conditions associated with intense immune activation, the sickness behaviour syndrome can develop into a depressive episode. Studies have found that certain cancer and hepatitis c therapies, which often involve the use of cytokines, have been associated with the development of flu-like depressive symptoms. The causal role of the cytokines has been established by the fact that the depressive symptoms appear almost immediately after cytokine administration and disappear shortly after cytokine treatment is terminated.

Link between autoimmune disorders and psychosis confirmed in new study

But rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis are also characterised by higher levels of inflammation, so this would not explain the negative relationships we found with these disorders. Although all autoimmune disorders activate the body’s immune system, the exact response differs depending on the disorder. This might go some way to explaining why we found different relationships for individual autoimmune disorders, and suggests that inflammation cannot be the only mechanism.

When muscles weaken with age -- ScienceDaily

Working with our colleagues from the University of Aachen, we first systematically surveyed the changes taking place in the peripheral nerves of people aged between 65 and 79," Rudolf Martini describes his team's approach. During this, the researchers encountered an increased number of macrophages in the samples. Macrophages are cells of our body's immune system that engulf, digest and dispose microbes, foreign substances, cellular debris, aging cells etc. They set inflammatory responses in motion, help heal wounds and cleanse the tissue. Unfortunately, however, they also cause damage in some diseases. To find out whether this also applies to age-related nerve degeneration, the scientists performed an experiment on mice. "For this purpose, we looked more closely at the nerves of 24-month-old mice which is an advanced age for mice," Rudolf Martini explains. It turned out that the age-related changes in the mice's peripheral nerves are very similar to those in humans. As in their human counterparts, the number of macrophages was increased in the mice. Also, the older animals had less strength than their younger siblings and their motor endplates, the synapses connecting nerves and muscle fibres, were also less intact.

Exercise makes the blood of obese people healthier -- ScienceDaily

The exercise program consisted of three bicycling or treadmill running sessions per week with each session lasting approximately one hour. Blood was collected before and after the exercise training intervention to quantify blood-forming stem cells. The results of the study demonstrated that exercise reduced the number of blood-forming stem cells associated with the production of the type of blood cells responsible for inflammation.

Early source of irritable bowel syndrome discovered -- ScienceDaily

"The gut has its own brain and that has more neurons in the intestines than in the spinal cord. Within your intestines lies a 'second brain' called the enteric nervous system," said Brian Gulbransen, MSU neuroscientist and the study's senior author. "The enteric nervous system is an exceedingly complex network of neural circuits that programs a diverse array of gut patterns and is responsible for controlling most gastrointestinal functions." Accompanying the neurons in this second brain are enteric glia, which are responsible for regulating inflammation. The disruption of neural circuits in the gut by inflammation is considered an important factor in the development of irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.

Probiotic Shot May Alleviate Brain Stress | GEN

“Given the evidence for reduced immunoregulation and chronic low-grade inflammation in anxiety and trauma-related disorders, microbial interventions that increase Treg, promote immunoregulation, and increase anti-inflammatory signaling may have value in the prevention or treatment of these disorders,” the authors suggest. M. vaccae has previously been shown to increase induction of Treg production and anti-inflammatory cytokines. A previous study by CU Boulder scientists showed that mice given injections of a heat-killed M. vaccae preparation and then placed in housing with an aggressive male exhibited less anxiety-like behavior and were less likely to suffer colitis or peripheral inflammation than control animals. These findings suggest that immunoregulatory and anti-inflammatory treatments can “buffer against the proinflammatory effects of stress,” the researchers point out.  What hasn’t been studied before is whether M. vaccae has a direct impact on stress-induced neuroinflammation.

Boosting the effects of vitamin D to tackle diabetes -- ScienceDaily

The underlying process has to do with transcription -- the way that genes are translated into proteins. Combining the new compound with vitamin D allowed certain protective genes to be expressed at much higher levels than they are in diseased cells. "Activating the vitamin D receptor can trigger the anti-inflammatory function of genes to help cells survive under stressed conditions," says Michael Downes, a Salk senior staff scientist and co-corresponding author. "By using a screening system that we developed in the lab, we've been able to identify an important piece of that puzzle that allows for super-activation of the Vitamin D pathway."

Drinking baking soda could be an inexpensive, safe way to combat autoimmune disease: A daily dose of baking soda may help reduce the destructive inflammation of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, scientists say. -- ScienceDaily

Drinking baking soda, the MCG scientists think, tells the spleen -- which is part of the immune system, acts like a big blood filter and is where some white blood cells, like macrophages, are stored -- to go easy on the immune response. "Certainly drinking bicarbonate affects the spleen and we think it's through the mesothelial cells," O'Connor says. The conversation, which occurs with the help of the chemical messenger acetylcholine, appears to promote a landscape that shifts against inflammation, they report.

Dark chocolate consumption reduces stress and inflammation: Data represent first human trials examining the impact of dark chocolate consumption on cognition and other brain functions -- ScienceDaily

"This is the first time that we have looked at the impact of large amounts of cacao in doses as small as a regular-sized chocolate bar in humans over short or long periods of time, and are encouraged by the findings. These studies show us that the higher the concentration of cacao, the more positive the impact on cognition, memory, mood, immunity and other beneficial effects."

Researchers Watch Brain's Lining Heal After Head Injury - Neuroscience News

“The lining of the brain, with help from the immune system, has a remarkable ability to put itself back together again after injury,” said Dorian McGavern, Ph.D., scientist at the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the senior author of the study published in Nature Immunology. “As we learn more about all the cells involved in the repair process, we may be able to identify potential targets for therapy that lead to better outcomes for patients.” The study came about from an observation on MRI scans of adult patients who experienced a concussion or mTBI. Around half of patients with mTBI show evidence of injury to blood vessels in the meninges, which appears on MRI scans as a vascular dye leaking out of the damaged vessels. The meninges are a collection of membranes that line the central nervous system and help protect brain and spinal cord tissue from various forms of injury. Damage to the meninges can cause cell death in underlying brain tissue.

Vitamin D blood test may one day speed bipolar diagnosis in kids: Finding a reliable blood marker could offer help to doctors and parents, study suggests -- ScienceDaily

The clinical part of the pilot study was conducted at Harding Hospital at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center and included 13 children without mood disorders, 12 children with diagnosed bipolar disorder and 11 children with major depressive disorder. Ziouzenkova said it made sense to look at vitamin D binding protein because it potentially plays a role in brain inflammation. The researchers also looked at inflammatory markers in the blood, but found no significant correlations. Looking for the nutrient vitamin D in the blood, as opposed to the binding protein, appears to have low diagnostic power, she said. "We wanted to look at factors that could be involved in mood disorders on a cellular level and that could be easily found in the blood," Ziouzenkova said. To date, finding a reliable blood marker for bipolar diagnosis has been elusive, she said. Her lab used an intricate technique to evaluate blood plasma, in which they essentially used biological "bait" to fish for inflammatory factors. That helped them identify the vitamin D binding protein as a potential diagnostic target.