Youth gene expression , vitality and aging

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Biomarker in blood may help predict recovery time for sports concussions

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health found that the blood protein tau could be an important new clinical biomarker to better identify athletes who need more recovery time before safely returning to play after a sports-related concussion. The study, supported by the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) with additional funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), published online in the Jan. 6, 2017 issue of Neurology(link is external), the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Despite the millions of sports-related concussions that occur annually in the United States, there is no reliable blood-based test to predict recovery and an athlete’s readiness to return to play. The new study shows that measuring tau levels could potentially be an unbiased tool to help prevent athletes from returning to action too soon and risking further neurological injury.

“Keeping athletes safer from long-term consequences of concussions is important to players, coaches, parents and fans. In the future, this research may help to develop a reliable and fast clinical lab test that can identify athletes at higher risk for chronic post-concussion symptoms,” said NINR Director Patricia A. Grady Ph.D., R.N.

Athletes who return to play before full recovery are at high risk for long-term symptoms like headaches, dizziness, and cognitive deficits with subsequent concussions. About half of college athletes see their post-concussive symptoms resolve within 10 days, but in others, the symptoms become chronic.

Tau is also connected to development of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and is a marker of neuronal injury following severe traumatic brain injuries.

In the study, led by Dr. Jessica Gill, NIH Lasker Clinical Research Scholar and chief of the NINR Division of Intramural Research’s Brain Injury Unit, researchers evaluated changes in tau following a sports-related concussion in male and female collegiate athletes to determine if higher levels of tau relate to longer recovery durations.

“Incorporating objective biomarkers like tau into return-to-play decisions could ultimately reduce the neurological risks related to multiple concussions in athletes,” said Gill.

To measure tau levels, a group of 632 soccer, football, basketball, hockey, and lacrosse athletes from the University of Rochester first underwent pre-season blood plasma sampling and cognitive testing to establish a baseline. They were then followed during the season for any diagnosis of a concussion, with 43 of them developing concussions during the study. For comparison, a control group of 37 teammate athletes without concussions was also included in the study, as well as a group of 21 healthy non-athletes.

Following a sports-related concussion, blood was sampled from both the concussed and control athletes at six hours, 24 hours, 72 hours, and seven days post-concussion.

Concussed athletes who needed a longer amount of recovery time before returning to play, (more than 10 days post-concussion) had higher tau concentrations overall at six, 24, and 72-hours post-concussion compared to athletes who were able to return to play in 10 days or less. These observed changes in tau levels occurred in both male and female athletes, as well as across the various sports studied.

Together, these findings indicate that changes in tau measured in as short a time as within six hours of a sports-related concussion may provide objective clinical information to better inform athletes, trainers, and team physicians’ decision-making about predicted recovery times and safe return to play.

Further research will test additional protein biomarkers and examine other post-concussion outcomes.

About the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR): NINR supports basic and clinical research that develops the knowledge to build the scientific foundation for clinical practice, prevent disease and disability, manage and eliminate symptoms caused by illness, and enhance end-of-life and palliative care. For more information about NINR, visit the website at www.ninr.nih.gov.

About the Eunice Kennedy Shrive National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): NICHD conducts and supports research in the United States and throughout the world on fetal, infant and child development; maternal, child and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit NICHD’s website.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

Boron in Almonds and avocados for your bones

boron.JPGBoron is a trace mineral you probably don’t think of when it comes to bone health, and you’re not alone there. We’ve covered Vitamin D, calcium, and even Vitamin K. Many people even remember that magnesium is important for bone health, and most everyone knows we need protein for strong bones. But … what about other trace minerals we need to stay healthy? Boron is one of the most important trace minerals among them all, and the good news is, it’s found in many plant-based foods.

But first, what does boron do?

The Benefits of Boron for Your Bones

Boron helps keep your bones healthy and strong, and it also fuels cognitive function and prevents against bone disease. Osteopenia and osteoporosis are two common bone disorders that many women deal with due to hormonal changes during life, along with nutritional deficiencies that can happen for a variety of reasons. Boron helps preserve bone density, which is important since frail, weak bones lead to most bone disorders and bone loss. Fractures can also occur due to weak bones, which makes getting enough bone-boosting vitamins and minerals into our diets important.

If you’ve been focusing on calcium and protein-rich foods, and maybe even taking Vitamin D (get some sunshine and exercise ) supplements and magnesium, then also consider adding some boron-rich foods to your meals, just to be safe. But first, be aware that a little of this mineral will go a long way.

How Much Do You Need?

The good news is, you don’t need very much boron to for healthy bones. The recommended intake is between 15-20 milligrams for adults over 18 age, and 11-16 grams for those younger. To give you an idea of how rich plant-based foods are in this mineral, just one banana and one serving of almonds both boast 2.5 milligrams each.

Folate – Vit B9 deficiency or MTHFR gene mutation

mthfr-def

Folate – Vit B9 or MTHFR deficiency has a frequency of 1 in 1.9 .

Those with potentially “severe” mutations should check homocysteine with their doctor. Folate deficiency: A deficiency in folic acid (folate) could be linked to MTHFR mutation and is worth checking out. Common symptoms include extreme fatigue, light-headedness, and forgetfulness.

Homocysteine is an amino acid and breakdown product of protein metabolism that, when present in high concentrations, has been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Elevated homocysteine levels are thought to contribute to plaque formation by damaging arterial walls.

Homocysteine is an amino acid thought to damage the lining of your arteries and other cells of the body. It is naturally formed in the body, but gets broken down (recycled) by 5-MTHF.  Elevated homocysteine levels in the blood is an independent risk factor for heart disease, stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease.  It has also been linked with a wide range of other health problems including macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, hearing loss, depression and cancer.

MTHFR mutation/gene variation can impact how well your body metabolizes folate and folic acid. Both are forms of vitamin B9, required for numerous critical bodily functions.  A fault in this metabolic cycle is linked to many serious health problems (neck pain,others).

MTHFR, short for Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase, is a very important enzyme in the body.  It’s necessary for Methylation to occur, a metabolic process that switches genes on and off, repairs DNA and many other important things.  Methylation is also essential to convert both folate and folic acid – each a form of Vitamin B9 – into its active, usable form called 5-MTHF.

One reader, a Rehab, Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach, Josh Rubin from California notes:

“…Folic acid def[initely] leads to catabolism of histadine. Low levels of histadine creates catabolism in the body and has been shown to be as a marker to arthritic and RA conditions.

“Low folate levels can lead to inhibition of DNA synthesis, impaired cell division, and alterations in protein synthesis.”

Histidine can even help protect tissues from damage caused by radiation or heavy metals. High histidine foods include beef, lamb, cheese, chicken, turkey, soy, fish, nuts, seeds, eggs, beans, and whole grains. The recommended daily intake for histidine is 10mg per kilogram of body weight, or 4.5mg per pound.

Diet

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Diet should include greens, whole foods, lemon, Vit B and Vit C rich whole foods, potassium and iron-rich foods) and vinegar (to aid in absorbtion of nutrients). Vit C and vinegar help in the absorption of nutrients from whole foods.

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What is folic acid/vitamin B9?

Vitamin B9, more commonly known as folate or folic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that is part of the B vitamin family. B vitamins/folate help support adrenal function, help calm and maintain a healthy nervous system, and are necessary for key metabolic processes. Folate occurs naturally in foods, while folic acid is the synthetic form of folate.

Why is vitamin B9 necessary?

Vitamin B9 is essential for human growth and development, encourages normal nerve and proper brain functioning, and may help reduce blood-levels of the amino acid homocysteine (elevated homocysteine levels have been implicated in increased risk of heart disease and stroke). Folic acid or folate may also help protect against cancers of the lung, colon, and cervix, and may help slow memory decline associated with aging.

Pregnant women have an increased need for folic acid: it supports the growth of the placenta and fetus, and helps to prevent several types of birth defects, especially those of the brain and spine. Pregnant women and women of child-bearing age should take extra caution to get enough folic acid (see below for recommended amounts).

What are the signs of a folic acid deficiency?

Deficiency has been linked to birth defects, low birth weight, pregnancy loss, depression, memory loss, and cervical dysplasia. Alcoholics, pregnant women, and people living in institutional settings are at a higher risk of vitamin B9 or folate deficiency.


Folate and Depression

Many studies, going back to the 1960s, show an elevated incidence of folate deficiency in patients with depression.2 Studies vary depending on the criteria used to define folate deficiency, but often, about one-third of depression patients were deficient. Given that depression is often accompanied by decreased appetite and weight loss, the high incidence of folate deficiency in depression patients is not surprising. However, there is some evidence, though not conclusive, that folate deficiency may be involved in the etiology of depression in a minority of patients. Alternatively, depressed mood may decrease appetite, lower folate levels and thereby help to prevent recovery from depression. A recent review and metaanalysis looked at the results from the limited number of studies that investigated the effect of giving folate to depression patients and concluded that “there is some evidence that augmentation of antidepressant treatment with folate may improve patient outcome.”3 Whether the putative beneficial effect of folate is limited to those with folate deficiency is not clear.1,3

If folate deficiency can contribute to depressed mood and folate supplementation is beneficial in patients, a plausible mechanism implicates serotonin. In most,4–8 but not all,9,10 studies on patients with neuropsychiatric disorders, folate deficiency was associated with low levels of the serotonin metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). In one study, supplementation with folate restored CSF 5-HIAA levels to normal.8

There is also a decrease in serotonin synthesis in patients with 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) deficiency, a disorder of folate metabolism.11,12

While the mechanism relating folate deficiency to low serotonin is not known, it may involve S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe). SAMe is a major methyl donor formed from methionine. Folate is involved in a cycle that regenerates methionine from homocysteine after SAMe is demethylated to S-adenosylhomocysteine, with subsequent conversion to homocysteine. Folate deficiency decreases SAMe in the rat brain.13 In humans, SAMe is an antidepressant14,15 and increases CSF 5-HIAA levels.16 Thus, there is some consistency in what is known about the interrelations of folate, SAMe and depression.

Swimming, racquet sports and aerobics are associated with the best odds of staving off death

SWIM.JPGLONDON (Reuters) – Swimming, racquet sports and aerobics are associated with the best odds of staving off death, and in particular of reducing the risk of dying from heart disease or stroke, scientists said on Tuesday.

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In a study of various types of exercise and their risk levels, the researchers found that participation in specific sports showed significant benefits for public health, and urged doctors and policymakers to encourage people to take them up.

While the research, published in the British Journal and Sports Medicine, showed no added advantage for people who favor running and football or rugby, independent experts said this was purely due to the design of the study.

“This study must not be misinterpreted as showing that running and football do not protect against heart disease,” said Tim Chico, a consultant cardiologist at professor at Britain’s Sheffield University who was asked to comment on the findings.

The study analysed data from 11 annual health surveys for England and Scotland carried out between 1994 and 2008, covering 80,306 adults with an average age of 52.

Participants were asked about what type and how much exercise they had done in the preceding four weeks, and whether it had been enough to make them breathless and sweaty.

Exercise included heavy domestic chores and gardening; walking; cycling;swimming; aerobics, gymnastics or dance; running; football or rugby; and badminton, tennis or squash.

The survival of each participant was tracked for an average of nine years, during which time 8,790 of them died from all causes and 1,909 from heart disease or stroke.

Overall, compared with respondents who had not done a given sport, risk of death during the follow up period from any cause was 47 percent lower among those who played racquet sports, 28 percent lower among swimmers, 27 percent lower among dance aerobics fans and 15 percent lower among cyclists.

In death from heart disease and stroke, the study found racquet sports players had a 56 percent lower risk, with 41 percent for swimming and 36 percent for aerobics, compared with those who did not participate in these sports.

Chico said the study did find that both runners and footballers had a lower rate of death from heart disease. “Although this was not ‘statistically significant’, many other studies have found that runners live longer and suffer less heart disease,” he said.

“I will continue to tell my patients that regular physical activity (including running) is more effective in reducing their risk of heart disease than any drug I can prescribe.”

 

Yogic Breathing Helps Fight Major Depression

Summary: According to researchers, a yogic breathing technique could help those with major depressive disorder who did not fully respond to antidepressant therapies.

Source: University of Pennsylvania.

Controlled breathing practices show promise in patients who don’t fully respond to antidepressants.

A breathing-based meditation practice known as Sudarshan Kriya yoga helped alleviate severe depression in people who did not fully respond to antidepressant treatments, reports a new study published today in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatryfrom researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The study bolsters the science behind the use of controlled yogic breathing to help battle depression.

In a randomized, controlled pilot study, led by Anup Sharma, MD, PhD, a Neuropsychiatry research fellow in the department of Psychiatry at Penn, researchers found significant improvement in symptoms of depression and anxiety in medicated patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) who participated in the breathing technique compared to medicated patients who did not partake. After two months, the yoga group cut its mean Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) score by several points, while the control group showed no improvements. HDRS is the most widely used clinician-administered depression assessment that scores mood, interest in activities, energy, suicidal thoughts, and feelings of guilt, among other symptoms.

More than half of the 41 million Americans who take antidepressants do not fully respond. Add-on therapies are often prescribed to enhance the effects of the drugs in these patients, but they typically offer limited additional benefits and come with side effects that can curb use, prolonging the depressive episode. What’s more, patients who don’t fully respond to antidepressants are especially at risk of relapse.

“With such a large portion of patients who do not fully respond to antidepressants, it’s important we find new avenues that work best for each person to beat their depression,” Sharma said. “Here, we have a promising, lower-cost therapy that could potentially serve as an effective, non-drug approach for patients battling this disease.”

The meditation technique, which is practiced in both a group setting and at home, includes a series of sequential, rhythm-specific breathing exercises that bring people into a deep, restful, and meditative state: slow and calm breaths alternated with fast and stimulating breaths.

“Sudarshan Kriya yoga gives people an active method to experience a deep meditative state that’s easy to learn and incorporate in diverse settings,” Sharma said.

In past studies, the practice has demonstrated a positive response in patients with milder forms of depression, depression due to alcohol dependence, and in patients with MDD; however, there are no clinical studies investigating its use for depression in an outpatient setting. Past studies suggest that yoga and other controlled breathing techniques can potentially adjust the nervous system to reduce stress hormones. Overall, the authors also note, well-designed studies that evaluate the benefits of yoga to treat depression are lacking, despite increased interest in the ancient Indian practice. Millions of Americans participate in some form of yoga every year.

Image shows a woman in a yoga pose.

In the study, researchers enrolled 25 patients suffering from MDD who were depressed, despite more than eight weeks of antidepressant medication treatment. The medicated patients were randomized to either the breathing intervention group or the “waitlist” control group for eight weeks. (The waitlist group was offered the yoga intervention after the study). During the first week, participants completed a six-session program, which featured Sudarshan Kriya yoga in addition to yoga postures, sitting meditation, and stress education. For weeks two through eight, participants attended weekly Sudarshan Kriya yoga follow-up sessions and completed a home practice version of the technique.

Patients in the Sudarshan Kriya yoga group showed a significantly greater improvement in HDRS scores compared to patients in the waitlist group. With a mean baseline HDRS score of 22.0 (indicating severe depression at the beginning of the study), the group that completed the breathing technique for the full two months improved scores by 10.27 points on average, compared to the waitlist group, which showed no improvements. Patients in the yoga group also showed significant mean reductions in total scores of the self-reported Beck Depression (15.48 point improvement) and Beck Anxiety Inventories (5.19 point improvement), versus the waitlist control group.

Results of the pilot study suggest the feasibility and promise of Sudarshan Kriya as an add-on intervention for MDD patients who have not responded to antidepressants, the authors wrote. “The next step in this research is to conduct a larger study evaluating how this intervention impacts brain structure and function in patients who have major depression,” Sharma said.

ABOUT THIS PSYCHOLOGY RESEARCH ARTICLE

Penn co-authors include Marna S. Barrett, PhD, Andrew J. Cucchiara, PhD, Nalaka S. Gooneratne, MD, and senior author Michael E. Thase, MD.

Funding: The work was supported by grants from the American Psychiatric Association/Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Minority Fellowship Program, Indo-American Psychiatric Association, and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (UL1TR000003).

Source: Johanna Harvey – University of Pennsylvania
Image Source: This NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Original Research: The study will appear in Journal of Clinical Psychiatry during the week of November 21 2016.