Breastfeeding linked to healthy infant gut: Bacterial colonization leads to changes in the infant’s expression of genes

Early colonization of the gut by microbes in infants is critical for development of their intestinal tract and in immune development. A new study, published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Genome Biology, shows that differences in bacterial colonization of formula-fed and breast-fed babies leads to changes in the infant’s expression of genes involved in the immune system, and in defense against pathogens.
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Familiarity with television fast-food ads linked to obesity

There is a long-held concern that youths who eat a lot of fast food are at risk for becoming overweight. New research presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Boston shows that greater familiarity with fast-food restaurant advertising on television is associated with obesity in young people.

Lighting Up To Take Down Bacteria: Handheld Plasma Flashlight Rids Skin Of Bacteria Instantly

a  torch that emits a plasma jet that kills bacteria on the skin in an instant. Developed by a group of Chinese and Australian scientists, including CSIRO, the flashlight is completely mobile, light, efficient, and works at room temperature.
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Positive Impact On Metabolic Syndrome And Satiety Offered By Eggs

A University of Connecticut study presented this week suggests that eating eggs may actually have favorable effects on HDL metabolism in men and women with metabolic syndrome.
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PLoS Pathogens: The Role of Mast Cells in the Defence against Pathogens

Although mast cells are best known for their role in mediating allergic diseases, recent studies have highlighted the important role that these cells play in the protection against infection with a variety of organisms.
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PLoS Genetics: Whole-Exome Sequencing and Homozygosity Analysis Implicate Depolarization-Regulated Neuronal Genes in Autism

Although autism has a clear genetic component, the high genetic heterogeneity of the disorder has been a challenge for the identification of causative genes. We used homozygosity analysis to identify probands from nonconsanguineous families that showed evidence of distant shared ancestry, suggesting potentially recessive mutations. Whole-exome sequencing of 16 probands revealed validated homozygous, potentially pathogenic recessive mutations that segregated perfectly with disease in 4/16 families. The candidate genes (UBE3B, CLTCL1, NCKAP5L, ZNF18) encode proteins involved in proteolysis, GTPase-mediated signaling, cytoskeletal organization, and other pathways. Furthermore, neuronal depolarization regulated the transcription of these genes, suggesting potential activity-dependent roles in neurons. We present a multidimensional strategy for filtering whole-exome sequence data to find candidate recessive mutations in autism, which may have broader applicability to other complex, heterogeneous disorders.
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Long-term consumption of aspartame and brain antioxidant defense status.

The present study investigated the effect of long-term intake of aspartame, a widely used artificial sweetener, on antioxidant defense status in the rat brain. Male Wistar rats weighing 150-175 g were randomly divided into three groups as follows: The first group was given at a dose of 500 mg/kg body weight (b.w.); the second group was given aspartame at dose of 1,000 mg/kg b.w., respectively, in a total volume of 3 mL of water; and the control rats received 3 mL of distilled water. Oral intubations were done in the morning, daily for 180 days. The concentration of reduced glutathione (GSH) and the activity of glutathione reductase (GR) were significantly reduced in the brain of rats that had received the dose of 1,000 mg/kg b.w. of aspartame> whereas only a significant reduction in GSH concentration was observed in the 500-mg/kg b.w. aspartame-treated group. Histopathological examination revealed mild vascular congestion in the 1,000 mg/kg b.w. group of aspartame-treated rats. The results of this experiment indicate that long-term consumption of aspartame leads to an imbalance in the antioxidant/pro-oxidant status in the brain, mainly through the mechanism involving the glutathione-dependent system.
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Tipping the Balance of Autism Risk: Potential Mechanisms Linking Pesticides and Autism.

Autism spectrum disorders have been increasing in many parts of the world and a portion of cases are attributable to environmental exposures. So far, conclusive replicated findings have yet to appear on any specific exposure, but mounting evidence suggests gestational pesticides exposures are strong candidates. Because multiple developmental processes are implicated in ASDs during gestation and early life, biological plausibility is more likely if these agents can be shown to affect core pathophysiological features. Here we review shared mechanisms between autism pathophysiology and effects of pesticide exposures, focusing on neuroexcitability, oxidative stress, and immune functions. Objectives: The objectives of this review are to outline the biological correlates between pesticide exposure and autism risk. Methods: We review and discuss previous research related to autism risk, developmental effects of early pesticide exposure, and basic biological mechanisms by which pesticides may induce or exacerbate pathophysiological features of autism. Discussion: Based on experimental and observational research, certain pesticides may be capable of inducing core features of autism but little is known about the timing, dose, or which of various mechanisms is sufficient to induce this condition. Conclusions: In animal studies, we encourage more research on gene X environment interactions, as well as experimental exposure to mixtures of compounds. Similarly, epidemiologic studies in humans with exceptionally high exposures can identify which pesticide classes are of greatest concern, and studies focused on gene X environment are needed to determine if there are susceptible sub-populations at greater risk from pesticide exposures.
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Heart study suggests city center pollution doubles risk of calcium build-up in arteries

City centre residents who took part in a study were almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery calcification (CAC), which can lead to heart disease, than people who lived in less polluted urban and rural areas, according to research published in the May issue of the Journal of Internal Medicine.
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Strawberries And Blueberries Halt Cognitive Decline In Elderly

Elderly individuals who eat plenty of strawberries and blueberries are less likely to experience cognitive decline, compared to those who rarely or never eat berries, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School reported in Annals of Neurology. According to their findings, the authors explained that adding flavonoids-rich berries to elderly people's diet could delay their cognitive decline by up to two-and-a-half years.
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Neuron - De Novo Gene Disruptions in Children on the Autistic Spectrum

Exome sequencing of 343 families, each with a single child on the autism spectrum and at least one unaffected sibling, reveal de novo small indels and point substitutions, which come mostly from the paternal line in an age-dependent manner. We do not see significantly greater numbers of de novo missense mutations in affected versus unaffected children, but gene-disrupting mutations (nonsense, splice site, and frame shifts) are twice as frequent, 59 to 28. Based on this differential and the number of recurrent and total targets of gene disruption found in our and similar studies, we estimate between 350 and 400 autism susceptibility genes. Many of the disrupted genes in these studies are associated with the fragile X protein, FMRP, reinforcing links between autism and synaptic plasticity. We find FMRP-associated genes are under greater purifying selection than the remainder of genes and suggest they are especially dosage-sensitive targets of cognitive disorders.
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'Western Diet' Detrimental To Fetal Hippocampal Tissue Transplants

Splenda Causes Cancer Concern

Following the discovery in a new study that mice have a higher risk of developing cancer after eating the popular British-made low-calorie artificial sweetener sucralose (Splenda), a leading cancer scientist calls for urgent research
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Research shows how PCBs promote dendrite growth, may increase autism risk

New research from UC Davis and Washington State University shows that PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, launch a cellular chain of events that leads to an overabundance of dendrites — the filament-like projections that conduct electrochemical signals between neurons — and disrupts normal patterns of neuronal connections in the brain.
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List of the top 10 toxic chemicals suspected to cause autism and learning disabilities

1. Lead
2. Methylmercury
3. PCBs
4. Organophosphate pesticides
5. Organochlorine pesticides
6. Endocrine disruptors
7. Automotive exhaust
8. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
9. Brominated flame retardants
10. Perfluorinated compounds
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Why is type 2 diabetes on the rise?

What’s driving the high rates of type 2 diabetes is the obesity epidemic—there’s  no question about this. Nutrient excess, obesity and a sedentary life style are the principal causes of diabetes. There is no specific food type that causes diabetes, but refined sugars and fat are major sources of the nutrient excess. The best thing you can do to prevent diabetes is eat a healthy diet, remain lean and participate in regular exercise. This is particularly important if you have a family history. Studies have demonstrated that a seven per cent reduction in body weight and 30 minutes of exercise five days a week reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by 58 per cent.
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Mitochondrial DNA that escapes from autophagy causes inflammation and heart failure : Nature : Nature Publishing Group

Heart failure is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in industrialized countries. Although infection with microorganisms is not involved in the development of heart failure in most cases, inflammation has been implicated in the pathogenesis of heart failure1. However, the mechanisms responsible for initiating and integrating inflammatory responses within the heart remain poorly defined. Mitochondria are evolutionary endosymbionts derived from bacteria and contain DNA similar to bacterial DNA Mitochondria damaged by external haemodynamic stress are degraded by the autophagy/lysosome system in cardiomyocytes. Here we show that mitochondrial DNA that escapes from autophagy cell-autonomously leads to Toll-like receptor (TLR) 9-mediated inflammatory responses in cardiomyocytes and is capable of inducing myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy. Cardiac-specific deletion of lysosomal deoxyribonuclease (DNase) II showed no cardiac phenotypes under baseline conditions, but increased mortality and caused severe myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy 10 days after treatment with pressure overload. Early in the pathogenesis, DNase II-deficient hearts showed infiltration of inflammatory cells and increased messenger RNA expression of inflammatory cytokines, with accumulation of mitochondrial DNA deposits in autolysosomes in the myocardium. Administration of inhibitory oligodeoxynucleotides against TLR9, which is known to be activated by bacterial DNA or ablation of Tlr9 attenuated the development of cardiomyopathy in DNase II-deficient mice. Furthermore, Tlr9 ablation improved pressure overload-induced cardiac dysfunction and inflammation even in mice with wild-type Dnase2a alleles. These data provide new perspectives on the mechanism of genesis of chronic inflammation in failing hearts.
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Urine biomarker test for autism on the horizon? - FierceBiomarkers

Some studies have shown that children with autism spectrum disorder have increased levels of porphyrins in their urine, resulting with issues with its metabolism. In a collaboration between Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation and the School of Public Health, the team of researchers looked at the levels of porphyrins in the urine of children with autism spectrum disorder to see if this could be used as a biomarker. The results showed that porphyrins levels could pick out up to a third of the children with autism, without selecting any of the "neurotypical" children.

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Comparing the population neurodevelopmental burdens associated with children's exposures to environmental chemicals and other risk factors.

To estimate the population burden of an exposure that is associated with neurodevelopmental impairment, it is necessary to consider both the effect size associated with the exposure (i.e., the decrease in function per unit increase in biomarker level) and the prevalence of the exposure. An exposure with a modest effect size might, nevertheless, be associated with a substantial population burden if many children are exposed at levels at which the exposure is known to have a detrimental impact. This illustrates the important distinction between individual risk and population risk. A method is described that can be used to compare different risk factors in terms of their contributions to the population burden of neurodevelopmental impairment. Combining estimates of the incidence/prevalence/distribution of different conditions or exposures with estimates, derived from meta-analyses, for the impact of different risk factors on children's Full-Scale IQ scores (FSIQ) and, the total FSIQ losses associated with each were calculated for the U.S. population of children less than 5 years of age. The losses associated with non-chemical risk factors ranged widely: 34,000,000 FSIQ points for preterm birth, 17,000,000 for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, 9,000,000 for iron deficiency, 136,000 for acute lymphocytic leukemia, and 37,000 for brain tumors. The FSIQ losses could be estimated for three chemicals: lead, 23,000,000 points; methylmercury, 285,000 points; and organophosphate pesticides, 17,000,000 points. Many caveats attend these calculations, but the findings suggest that in continuing to apply standards appropriate to evaluating the impact of chemical exposures on an individual child rather than on the population as a whole, we risk underestimating the population burdens associated with them.
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Toxoplasma gondii Actively Inhibits Neuronal Function in Chronically Infected Mice.

Upon infection with the obligate intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii, fast replicating tachyzoites infect a broad spectrum of host cells including neurons. Under the pressure of the immune response, tachyzoites convert into slow-replicating bradyzoites, which persist as cysts in neurons. Currently, it is unclear whether T. gondii alters the functional activity of neurons, which may contribute to altered behaviour of T. gondii-infected mice and men. In the present study we demonstrate that upon oral infection with T. gondii cysts, chronically infected BALB/c mice lost over time their natural fear against cat urine which was paralleled by the persistence of the parasite in brain regions affecting behaviour and odor perception. Detailed immunohistochemistry showed that in infected neurons not only parasitic cysts but also the host cell cytoplasm and some axons stained positive for Toxoplasma antigen suggesting that parasitic proteins might directly interfere with neuronal function. In fact, in vitro live cell calcium (Ca(2+)) imaging studies revealed that tachyzoites actively manipulated Ca(2+) signalling upon glutamate stimulation leading either to hyper- or hypo-responsive neurons. Experiments with the endoplasmatic reticulum Ca(2+) uptake inhibitor thapsigargin indicate that tachyzoites deplete Ca(2+) stores in the endoplasmatic reticulum. Furthermore in vivo studies revealed that the activity-dependent uptake of the potassium analogue thallium was reduced in cyst harbouring neurons indicating their functional impairment. The percentage of non-functional neurons increased over time In conclusion, both bradyzoites and tachyzoites functionally silence infected neurons, which may significantly contribute to the altered behaviour of the host.
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Dietary changes help some children with ADHD

Evaluating the first drug to show improvement in subtype of autism

In an important test of one of the first drugs to target core symptoms of autism, researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine are undertaking a pilot clinical trial to evaluate insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) in children who have SHANK3 deficiency (also known as 22q13 Deletion Syndrome or Phelan-McDermid Syndrome), a known cause of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Evidence shows that anti-depressants likely do more harm than good, researchers find

The findings include these elevated risks:
  • developmental problems in infants
  • problems with sexual stimulation and function and sperm development in adults
  • digestive problems such as diarrhea, constipation, indigestion and bloating
  • abnormal bleeding and stroke in the elderly

'Junk DNA' can sense viral infection

Dr. Noam Shomron of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine has discovered that when infected with a virus, non coding RNA gives off biological signals that indicate the presence of an infectious agent,or pathogen.
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Sign in to read: Babies are born dirty, with a gutful of bacteria - health - 11 April 2012 - New Scientist

Babies were previously though to be born sterile in termes of bacteria: It now appears that they too have an early microbiome.

Horizontal Gene Transfer in Microorganisms | Book

Bartonella infection associated with rheumatoid illnesses in humans

A bacterium historically associated with cat scratch fever and transmitted predominately by fleas may also play a role in human rheumatoid illnesses such as arthritis, according to new research from North Carolina State University. Bartonella is a bacterium that is maintained in nature by fleas, ticks and other biting insects. It can be transmitted to humans both by these parasites as well as by bites or scratches from infected cats and dogs.
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Small variations in magnetic fields can be environmental stresses

We are surrounded by a constantly changing magnetic field, be it Earth's or those emanating from devices, such as cell phones. Carlos Martino, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, is interested in understanding how these magnetic-field fluctuations change biochemical reactions inside us.

Common environmental contaminant, cadmium, linked to rapid breast cancer cell growth

Studies by researchers at Dominican University of California show that breast cancer cells become increasingly aggressive the longer they are exposed to small concentrations of cadmium, a heavy metal commonly found in cosmetics, food, water and air particles.
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Study reveals how ancient viruses became genomic 'superspreaders'

Scientists have uncovered clues as to how our genomes became riddled with viruses. The study, supported by the Wellcome Trust, reveals important information about the so–called 'dark matter' of our genome.For years scientists have been struggling with the enigma that more than 90 percent of every mammal's genome has no known function. A part of this 'dark matter' of genetic material is known to harbour pieces of DNA from ancient viruses that infected our ancestors going back as far as the age of the dinosaurs.
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Eternal Life? Nobel Laureate Rita Levi Montalcini Turns 103 : Discovery News

Dr Rita Levi Montalcini's  longevity might be the result of an unusual potion she takes every day in the form of eye drops -- a dose of nerve growth factor, which she discovered (jointly with American co-worker Stanley Cohen), in June 1951 in the labs of Washington University in St. Louis.
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Identification of a biological signature for schizophrenia in serum

Biomarkers are now used in many areas of medicine but are still lacking for psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia (SCZ). We have used a multiplex molecular profiling approach to measure serum concentrations of 181 proteins and small molecules in 250 first and recent onset SCZ, 35 major depressive disorder (MDD), 32 euthymic bipolar disorder (BPD), 45 Asperger syndrome and 280 control subjects. Preliminary analysis resulted in identification of a signature comprised of 34 analytes in a cohort of closely matched SCZ (n=71) and control (n=59) subjects. Partial least squares discriminant analysis using this signature gave a separation of 60–75% of SCZ subjects from controls across five independent cohorts. The same analysis also gave a separation of ~50% of MDD patients and 10–20% of BPD and Asperger syndrome subjects from controls. These results demonstrate for the first time that a biological signature for SCZ can be identified in blood serum. This study lays the groundwork for development of a diagnostic test that can be used as an aid for distinguishing SCZ subjects from healthy controls and from those affected by related psychiatric illnesses with overlapping symptoms.
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Avocado oil: The ‘olive oil of the Americas’?

Why one bacterial infection is so deadly in cystic fibrosis patients: Pathogen interferes with cells whose job is to fight infection

The Ohio State University researchers have determined that B. cenocepacia bacteria interfere with an important survival process in cells whose job is to fight infection. This phenomenon is even stronger in Cystic fibrosis  patients, so the infection exacerbates the cell malfunction.
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ANAT - Advanced Network Analysis Tool

Genome-scale screening studies are gradually accumulating a wealth of data on the putative involvement of hundreds of genes in various cellular responses or functions. A fundamental challenge is to chart out the molecular pathways that underlie these systems. ANAT (Advanced Network Analysis Tool) , is an all-in-one resource that provides access to up-to-date large-scale physical association data in several organisms, advanced algorithms for network reconstruction, and a number of tools for exploring and evaluating the obtained network models

Making Hamburgers Healthier With Beetroot

Beetroots at a grocery store
Beetroots at a grocery store (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
According to nutritional experts at the University of Aberdeen, adding beetroot - which contains antioxidants - to burgers prevents the body from absorbing the 'bad' fat. In order to test their findings, the team has created their own turkey and beetroot burger and are currently looking for healthy males to participate in their trial.
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Capturing poliovirus with E. coli

Usin bacterially expressed viral receptors to trap viruses in drinking water and other contaminated areas

You and Your Ten Thousand Trillion Microbes - YouTube

For every human cell in your body, there are hundreds or thousands of bacterial cells. So who is hosting whom? Even though our on-board microbial hordes—known also as our microbiome—sometimes threaten and deprive us of our health and our lives, they are central to our survival and our daily well being.
A YouTube video

Study finds soda consumption increases overall stroke risk

Researchers from Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Institute and Harvard University have found that greater consumption of sugar-sweetened and low-calorie sodas is associated with a higher risk of stroke. Conversely, consumption of caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee was associated with a lower risk.
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Depression linked to greater risk of peripheral artery disease

Depression may be associated with an increased risk of arterial narrowing in the legs and pelvis, a condition known as peripheral artery disease (PAD), according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology 2012 Scientific Sessions in Chicago.
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New Target for Aspirin and salicylate| The Scientist

Salicylate, the natural compound on which aspirin is based, directly activates a pathway linked to tumor suppression and glucose regulation, which may explain some of aspirin’s long-term health benefits, such as its role in cancer prevention. Published this week (April 19) in Science, the research shows that salicylate directly activates AMP kinase, which regulates a cell’s ATP levels, which in turn promotes fat burning in mice
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Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular parasite often found in
the brain of humans. Research has shown a correlation between prevalence of
antibody titers to T. gondii and psychological illness in humans. Recent studies
indicate that individuals seropositive for T. gondii antibodies are more likely
to develop psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia, which is associated with
changes in the dopamine neurotransmitter system. Dopamine in the brain may play a
role in proliferation, chemoattraction, infection efficiency, or stage conversion
of T. gondii. Because tachyzoites are the first developmental stage to reach the
brain, the present study was conducted to determine the effects of dopamine on
their development in vitro .In human fibroblast host cells, dopamine was added at
either 100 nM or 250 nM to cell culture media and the numbers of tachyzoites
produced at 48 hr were determined and compared to vehicle-treated controls. An
increase of tachyzoite numbers and increased destruction in cell monolayer were
observed at both concentrations of dopamine. Dopamine used at 250 nM caused a
significant (P< 0.05) increase in tachyzoites counts compared to controls.
Dopamine antagonists (10 µM) did not significantly alter dopamine stimulated
tachyzoite production in human fibroblasts. In primary rat neonatal brain
cultures, dopamine (200 µM) significantly (P<0.05) increased numbers of
intracellular tachyzoites after 24 h. The role that this increase in tachyzoite
production under the stimulus of dopamine plays in the modulation of neural
infection in humans awaits further studies.
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Childhood obesity linked to increased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma in adulthood

Childhood obesity is a widespread global epidemic and in parallel with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is now the leading cause of liver disease among children. New data presented today at the International Liver Congress™ 2012 furthers this concern by showing that childhood obesity is positively linked with developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) - the most common form of liver cancer - in adulthood

Recapitulation of the entire hepatitis C virus life in engineered mouse cell lines

A US study presented today at The International Liver CongressTM 2012 demonstrates that the entire HCV lifecycle can be recapitulated in murine cells, implying that HCV permissive mouse models could soon be developed.

Virus Pathogen Database and Analysis Resource (ViPR) - Genome database with visualization and analysis tools

The Risk Of Parkinson's Disease In Diabetes Can Be Substantially Reduced By Metformin

A major 12-year study based on a Taiwanese population cohort has demonstrated that not only does diabetes increase the risk of developing Parkinson's disease more than 2-fold, the use of sulfonylureas, commonly used as treatment for diabetes, increases the risk further by about 57%. This study also found that by including metformin in the therapy, no increased risk in developing Parkinson's disease was recorded.
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Alzheimer's Disease Risk May Be Reduced At Any Age By Daily Physical Activity

Daily physical activity may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease and cognitive decline, even in people over the age of 80, according to a new study by neurological researchers from Rush University Medical Center that will be published in the online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Speed and ecstasy associated with depression in teenagers

A five year study conducted with thousands of local teenagers by University of Montreal researchers reveals that those who used speed (meth/ampthetamine) or ecstasy (MDMA) at fifteen or sixteen years of age were significantly more likely to suffer elevated depressive symptoms the following year.
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Gut microbiota transplantation may prevent development of diabetes and fatty liver disease

Exciting new data presented April 18 at the International Liver CongressTM 2012 shows the gut microbiota's causal role in the development of diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), independent of obesity. Though an early stage animal model, the French study highlights the possibility of preventing diabetes and NAFLD with gut microbiota transplantation -- the engrafting of new microbiota, usually through administering fecal material from a healthy donor into the colon of a diseased recipient.
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Benefits of Chocolate | Medical News and Health Information

PLoS Pathogens: Loss of Anti-Viral Immunity by Infection with a Virus Encoding a Cross-Reactive Pathogenic Epitope

T cell cross-reactivity between different strains of the same virus, between different members of the same virus group, and even between unrelated viruses is a common occurrence. We questioned here how an intervening infection with a virus containing a sub-dominant cross-reactive T cell epitope would affect protective immunity to a previously encountered virus. Pichinde virus (PV) and lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) encode subdominant cross-reactive NP205–212 CD8 T cell epitopes sharing 6 of 8 amino acids, differing only in the MHC anchoring regions. These pMHC epitopes induce cross-reactive but non-identical T cell receptor (TCR) repertoires, and structural studies showed that the differing anchoring amino acids altered the conformation of the MHC landscape presented to the TCR. PV-immune mice receiving an intervening infection with wild type but not NP205-mutant LCMV developed severe immunopathology in the form of acute fatty necrosis on re-challenge with PV, and this pathology could be predicted by the ratio of NP205-specific to the normally immunodominant PV NP38–45 -specific T cells. Thus, cross-reactive epitopes can exert pathogenic properties that compromise protective immunity by impairing more protective T cell responses.
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Metagenomic Study Uncovers Apparent RNA-DNA Hybrid Virus | GenomeWeb Daily News | Sequencing | GenomeWeb

Results from a metagenomic study described online today in the journal Biology Direct are challenging the notion that viruses exchange sequences exclusively with viruses of the same type.
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Further evidence found of disturbed immune system in autism

A University of Kansas Medical Center study found significantly lower levels of several cytokines, the immune system’s messengers and regulators, in the plasma of children with autism disorder (AD) compared to that of unrelated healthy siblings from other families who had members with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
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Pill reduced number of multiple sclerosis lesions in Phase II trial

An investigational oral drug called ONO-4641, a sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor modulator, reduced the number of lesions in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to the results of a phase two clinical trial to be presented as Emerging Science (formerly known as Late-Breaking Science) at the American Academy of Neurology's 64th Annual Meeting in New Orleans April 21 to April 28, 2012.
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Researchers find joint failures potentially linked to oral bacteria

The culprit behind a failed hip or knee replacements might be found in the mouth. DNA testing of bacteria from the fluid that lubricates hip and knee joints had bacteria with the same DNA as the plaque from patients with gum disease and in need of a joint replacement.
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Research identifies protein that regulates creation of fat cells

The University of Delaware junior believes he has identified the trigger that turns a stem cell into a fat cell.  Located on the surface of cells, the trigger -- a protein called endoglin -- regulates what type of cell an existing stem cell will become.
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Hookworms And Allergies - Doctor Infects Himself For Experiment

Ancylostoma caninum, a type of hookworm, attac...
Ancylostoma caninum, a type of hookworm, attached to the intestinal mucosa. Source:CDC's Public Health Image Library Image #5205 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the first experiment of its kind to test the suggestion that hookworm infection can reduce some allergic responses, a UK doctor who specializes in medical entomology, infected himself with the parasite and then swallowed a pill camera to film the effect on his intestines.

Although the infection gave him some pain, Logan said for the first time in years, he was able to eat bread without feeling ill.

At the end of the 60-day experiment, Logan removed his "guests" with the help of the anti-worming drug albendazole.
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Not by DNA alone: How the epigenetics revolution is fostering new medicines

Scientific insights that expand on the teachings of Mendel, Watson and Crick, and underpinnings of the Human Genome Project are moving drug companies along the path to development of new medicines based on deeper insights into how factors other than the genetic code influence health and disease. That's the topic of the cover story in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society.
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TSRI eNewsletter: Researchers find new target for pain relief

After medical researchers spent three decades hunting for a drug that could effectively treat pain caused by nerve damage, a Scripps Research team decided to try something new.
Gary Siuzdak, professor of chemistry and molecular biology and senior director of mass spectrometry, Gary J. Patti, a research associate at Scripps Research, and their colleagues focused on metabolomics, a field of medicine that's increasingly used to find biochemical markers or signatures of diseases.
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Reduction in Inflammation and the Expression of Amyloid Precursor Protein and Other Proteins Related to Alzheimer's Disease following Gastric Bypass Surgery.

Obesity and type 2 diabetes are associated with an increase in the incidence and prevalence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and an impaired cognitive function. Because peripheral blood mononuclear cells (MNC) express amyloid precursor protein (APP), the precursor of β-amyloid, which forms the pathognomonic plaques in the brain, we hypothesized that APP expression diminishes after the marked caloric restriction and weight loss associated with Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) surgery.Research Design and Methods:Fifteen type 2 diabetic patients with morbid obesity (body mass index, 52.1 ± 13 kg/m(2)) underwent RYGB, and the expression of inflammatory and AD-related genes was examined before and after 6 months in plasma and in MNC.Results:Body mass index fell to 40.4 ± 11.1 kg/m(2) at 6 months after RYGB. There was a significant fall in plasma concentrations of glucose and insulin and in homeostasis model of assessment for insulin resistance. The expression of APP mRNA fell by 31 ± 9%, and that of protein fell by 36 ± 14%. In addition, there was a reduction in the expression of other AD-related genes including presinilin-2, ADAM-9, GSK-3β, PICALM, SORL-1, and clusterin (P < 0.05 for all). Additionally, the expression of c-Fos, a subunit of the proinflammatory transcription factor AP-1, was also suppressed after RYGB. These changes occurred in parallel with reductions in other proinflammatory mediators including C-reactive protein and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1.Conclusions:Thus, the reversal of the proinflammatory state of obesity is associated with a concomitant reduction in the expression of APP and other AD-related genes in MNC. We conclude that obesity and caloric intake modulate the expression of APP in MNC. If indeed, this effect also occurs in the brain, this may have implications for the pathogenesis and the treatment of AD. It is relevant that cognitive function has been shown to improve with weight loss following bariatric surgery.
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Blood Test Identifies Depression In Teens

A blood test that measures a set of genetic markers has been developed which diagnoses major depression in teenagers, researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine reported in Translational Psychiatry. Currently, diagnosing depression relies on subjective data in which the patient describes symptoms and the health care professional attempts to interpret them.
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Contribution of gut microbiota to colonic and extracolonic cancer development.

It is estimated that 20% of malignancies worldwide can be attributed to
infections, i.e. about 1.2 million cases per year. A typical example of the
association between bacterial infection and gastrointestinal malignancies is
Helicobacter pylori infection with both gastric cancer and mucosa-associated
lymphoid tissue lymphoma. Bacteria are an important component of the human body.
The human intestine contains >500 different types of microorganisms, the 'gut
microbiota', that play important functions such as energetic metabolism,
proliferation and survival of epithelial cells, and protection against pathogens.
Chronic alteration of intestinal microbiota homeostasis, 'dysbiosis', could
promote many diseases, including cancer. The mechanisms by which bacteria may
induce carcinogenesis include chronic inflammation, immune evasion, and immune
suppression. There are three effector pathways of T helper (Th) cell
differentiation: Th1 responses promoted by procarcinogenic signal transducer and
activator of transcription (Stat)1 and Stat4 signaling, Th2 responses promoted by
Stat6 signaling, and Th17 responses promoted by Stat3 signaling. Interestingly,
Th1 responses, driven by IL-12 and characterized by IFN-γ production, are
typically anticarcinogenic, whereas Th17 responses are activated in various
cancers. Furthermore, a T regulatory response, driven by IL-10 and TGF-β,
counterbalances the proinflammatory effect of Th17 responses. Elevated numbers of
T regulatory cells suppress the innate and adaptive immune responses, thereby
contributing to tumor progression. The emerging relationship between gut
microbiota and cancer has prompted new ways of thinking about cancer prevention
and has led to the development of noninvasive diagnostic tests and innovative
treatments, such as with probiotics. However, although in vitro and animal model
studies suggest a protective anticancer effect of probiotics, the results of
human epidemiological studies are controversial.
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Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk

PNAS: We propose a model wherein chronic stress results in glucocorticoid receptor resistance (GCR) that, in turn, results in failure to down-regulate inflammatory response. Here we test the model in two viral-challenge studies. In study 1, we assessed stressful life events, GCR, and control variables including baseline antibody to the challenge virus, age, body mass index (BMI), season, race, sex, education, and virus type in 276 healthy adult volunteers. The volunteers were subsequently quarantined, exposed to one of two rhinoviruses, and followed for 5 d with nasal washes for viral isolation and assessment of signs/symptoms of a common cold. In study 2, we assessed the same control variables and GCR in 79 subjects who were subsequently exposed to a rhinovirus and monitored at baseline and for 5 d after viral challenge for the production of local (in nasal secretions) proinflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, TNF-α, and IL-6). Study 1: After covarying the control variables, those with recent exposure to a long-term threatening stressful experience demonstrated GCR; and those with GCR were at higher risk of subsequently developing a cold. Study 2: With the same controls used in study 1, greater GCR predicted the production of more local proinflammatory cytokines among infected subjects. These data provide support for a model suggesting that prolonged stressors result in GCR, which, in turn, interferes with appropriate regulation of inflammation. Because inflammation plays an important role in the onset and progression of a wide range of diseases, this model may have broad implications for understanding the role of stress in health.
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Pathogen Free Conditions Slow the Onset of Neurodegeneration in a Mouse Model of Nerve Growth Factor Deprivation.

Several studies suggest that systemic infection occurring during aging and chronic neurodegenerative diseases can evoke an exaggerated immune response that contributes to the progression of neurodegeneration and cognitive decline. However, studies directly addressing the relationship between microbial environment and the onset of neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease animal models are lacking. Here we show that the onset of neurodegeneration that transgenic mice develop when raised in conventional husbandry slows down when raising anti-nerve growth factor transgenic mice in a murine pathogen free condition.
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Autism Linked To Industrial Food Or Environment

A new study in Clinical Epigenetics, suggests that the epidemic of autism amongst children in the U.S. may be associated with the typical American diet. The study by Renee Dufault and his team explores how mineral deficiencies, affected by dietary factors, such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), could have a potential impact on how the human body frees itself of common toxic chemicals, for instance, pesticides and mercury.
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