Personal care products are possible sources of potentially harmful parabens for babies

Contact: Michael Bernstein m_bernstein@acs.org 202-872-6042 American Chemical Society

Through lotions, shampoos and other personal care products (PCPs), infants and toddlers are likely becoming exposed to potentially harmful substances, called parabens, at an even higher level than adult women in the U.S., researchers have reported. They published their findings on parabens, which have been linked to reproductive and other health issues, in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology. Continue reading “Personal care products are possible sources of potentially harmful parabens for babies”

Saliva proteins may protect older people from influenza

Contact: Michael Bernstein m_bernstein@acs.org 202-872-6042 American Chemical Society

Spit. Drool. Dribble. Saliva is not normally a topic of polite conversation, but it may be the key to explaining the age and sex bias exhibited by influenza and other diseases, according to a new study. Published in ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research, it provides new insights into why older people were better able to fight off the new strains of “bird” flu and “swine” flu than younger people.

Zheng Li and colleagues explain that saliva does more than start the process of digesting certain foods. Saliva also contains germ-fighting proteins that are a first-line defense against infections. Scientists already knew that levels of certain glycoproteins — proteins with a sugar coating that combat disease-causing microbes — differ with age. Li’s team took a closer look at how those differences affected vulnerability to influenza.

Their tests of 180 saliva samples from men and women of various ages suggested that seniors, who fought off the bird flu better than the younger groups, might thank their saliva. Glycoproteins in saliva of people age 65 and over were more efficient in binding to influenza than those in children and young adults. The research “may provide useful information to help understand some age-related diseases and physiological phenomenon specific to women or men, and inspire new ideas for prevention and diagnosis of the diseases by considering the individual conditions based primarily on the salivary analysis,” the scientists state.

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The authors acknowledge funding from the National Science and Technology Major Project and the Foundation of Shaanxi Educational Committee.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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Formula-feeding linked to metabolic stress and increased risk of later disease

Contact: Michael Bernstein m_bernstein@acs.org 202-872-6042 American Chemical Society

New evidence from research suggests that infants fed formula, rather than breast milk, experience metabolic stress that could play a part in the long-recognized link between formula-feeding and an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and other conditions in adult life. The study appears in ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research.

Carolyn Slupsky and colleagues explain that past research showed a link between formula-feeding and a higher risk for chronic diseases later in life. Gaps exist, however, in the scientific understanding of the basis for that link.

The scientists turned to rhesus monkeys, stand-ins for human infants in such research, that were formula-fed or breast-fed for data to fill those gaps.

Their analysis of the monkeys’ urine, blood and stool samples identified key differences between formula-fed and breast-fed individuals. It also produced hints that reducing the protein content of infant formula might be beneficial in reducing the metabolic stress in formula-fed infants. “Our findings support the contention that infant feeding practice profoundly influences metabolism in developing infants and may be the link between early feeding and the development of metabolic disease later in life,” the study states.

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The authors acknowledge funding from the Fonterra Research and Development Centre.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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The first caffeine-‘addicted’ bacteria

Contact: Michael Bernstein m_bernstein@acs.org 202-872-6042 American Chemical Society

Some people may joke about living on caffeine, but scientists now have genetically engineered E. coli bacteria to do that — literally. Their report in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology describes bacteria being “addicted” to caffeine in a way that promises practical uses ranging from decontamination of wastewater to bioproduction of medications for asthma.

Jeffrey E. Barrick and colleagues note that caffeine and related chemical compounds have become important water pollutants due to widespread use in coffee, soda pop, tea, energy drinks, chocolate and certain medications. These include prescription drugs for asthma and other lung diseases. The scientists knew that a natural soil bacterium, Pseudomonas putida CBB5, can actually live solely on caffeine and could be used to clean up such environmental contamination. So they set out to transfer genetic gear for metabolizing, or breaking down, caffeine from P. putida into that old workhorse of biotechnology, E. coli, which is easy to handle and grow.

The study reports their success in doing so, as well as use of the E. coli for decaffeination and measuring the caffeine content of beverages. It describes development of a synthetic packet of genes for breaking down caffeine and related compounds that can be moved easily to other microbes. When engineered into certain E. coli, the result was bacteria literally addicted to caffeine. The genetic packet could have applications beyond environmental remediation, the scientists say, citing potential use as a sensor to measure caffeine levels in beverages, in recovery of nutrient-rich byproducts of coffee processing and for the cost-effective bioproduction of medicines.

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The author and co-authors acknowledge financial support from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Iowa.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

 

‘Masked’ mold toxins ( greater than the potential health threats from pesticides and insecticides ) in food should be included in safety regulations

Contact: Michael Bernstein m_bernstein@acs.org 202-872-6042 American Chemical Society

‘Masked’ mold toxins in food should be included in safety regulations

Government limits on mold toxins present naturally in grain crops should be expanded to include so-called “masked mycotoxins” that change from harmless to potentially harmful forms in the body, a new study concludes. It appears in ACS’ journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.

Chiara Dall’Asta and colleagues explain that molds growing naturally on wheat, corn and other plants produce toxic substances termed mycotoxins. Some health experts regard mycotoxins as the most serious chronic dietary risk factor, greater than the potential health threats from pesticides and insecticides. Government regulations thus limit levels of mycotoxins that are permissible in food and animal feed. Plants protect themselves by binding or “conjugating” glucose, sulfur or other substances to the mycotoxin, producing conjugated mycotoxins that are not harmful.

Dall’Asta explains that these “masked mycotoxins” are not included in current safety regulations because of uncertainty about what happens when people and animals eat them. The new study focused on two of the most widespread mycotoxin contaminants of grain crops — deoxynivalenol (DON) and zearalenone (ZEN). The authors say their results show, for the first time, that bacteria present in the large intestine in people deconjugate or “unmask” DON and ZEN, releasing the original toxic forms. “For this reason, masked mycotoxins should be considered when evaluating population exposure,” the study concludes.

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The authors acknowledge funding from the Basic Research Investment Fund (FIRB), the Italian Ministry of University and Research and the AGER Project “From Seed to Pasta.”

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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Widely used nanoparticles enter soybean plants from farm soil

Contact: Michael Bernstein m_bernstein@acs.org 202-872-6042 American Chemical Society

Two of the most widely used nanoparticles (NPs) accumulate in soybeans — second only to corn as a key food crop in the United States — in ways previously shown to have the potential to adversely affect the crop yields and nutritional quality, a new study has found. It appears in the journal ACS Nano.

Jorge L. Gardea-Torresdey and colleagues cite rapid increases in commercial and industrial uses of NPs, the building blocks of a nanotechnology industry projected to put $1 trillion worth of products on the market by 2015. Zinc oxide and cerium dioxide are among today’s most widely used NPs. Both are used in cosmetics, lotions, sunscreens and other products. They eventually go down the drain, through municipal sewage treatment plants, and wind up in the sewage sludge that some farmers apply to crops as fertilizer. Gardea-Torresdey’s team previously showed that soybean plants grown in hydroponic solutions accumulated zinc and cerium dioxide in ways that alter plant growth and could have health implications.

The question remained, however, as to whether such accumulation would occur in the real-world conditions in which farmers grow soybeans in soil, rather than nutrient solution. Other important questions included the relationship of soybean plants and NPs, the determination of their entrance into the food chain, their biotransformation and toxicity and the possible persistence of these products into the next plant generation. Their new study, performed at two world-class synchrotron facilities — the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France, addressed those questions. “To our knowledge, this is the first report on the presence of cerium dioxide and zinc compounds in the reproductive/edible portions of the soybean plant grown in farm soil with cerium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles. In addition, our results have shown that cerium dioxide NPs in soil can be taken up by food crops and are not biotransformed in soybeans. This suggests that cerium dioxide NPs can reach the food chain and the next soybean plant generation, with potential health implications,” the study notes.

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The authors acknowledge financial support from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Frog-in-bucket-of-milk folklore leads to potential new antibiotics

Contact: Michael Bernstein m_bernstein@acs.org 202-872-6042 American Chemical Society

Following up on an ancient Russian way of keeping milk from going sour — by putting a frog in the bucket of milk — scientists have identified a wealth of new antibiotic substances in the skin of the Russian Brown frog. The study appears in ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research.

A. T. Lebedev and colleagues explain that amphibians secrete antimicrobial substances called peptides through their skin. These compounds make up the majority of their skin secretions and act as a first line of defense against bacteria and other microorganisms that thrive in the wet places frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians live. A previous study identified on the skin of the Russian Brown frog 21 substances with antibiotic and other potential medical activity. Lebedev’s team set out to find more of these potential medical treasures.

They used a sensitive laboratory technique to expand the list of such substances on the frogs’ skin, identifying 76 additional substances of this kind. They describe lab tests in which some of the substances performed as well against Salmonella and Staphylococcus bacteria as some prescription antibiotic medicines. “These peptides could be potentially useful for the prevention of both pathogenic and antibiotic resistant bacterial strains while their action may also explain the traditional experience of rural populations,” the scientists concluded.

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The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 164,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

New evidence that chili pepper ingredient fights fat

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Michael Bernstein m_bernstein@acs.org 202-872-6042 American Chemical Society

Capsaicin, the stuff that gives chili peppers their kick, may cause weight loss and fight fat buildup by triggering certain beneficial protein changes in the body, according to a new study on the topic. The report, which could lead to new treatments for obesity, appears in ACS’ monthly Journal of Proteome Research.

Jong Won Yun and colleagues point out that obesity is a major public health threat worldwide, linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other health problems. Laboratory studies have hinted that capsaicin may help fight obesity by decreasing calorie intake, shrinking fat tissue, and lowering fat levels in the blood. Nobody, however, knows exactly how capsaicin might trigger such beneficial effects.

In an effort to find out, the scientists fed high-fat diets with or without capsaicin to lab rats used to study obesity. The capsaicin-treated rats lost 8 percent of their body weight and showed changes in levels of at least 20 key proteins found in fat. The altered proteins work to break down fats. “These changes provide valuable new molecular insights into the mechanism of the antiobesity effects of capsaicin,” the scientists say.

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ARTICLE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE “Proteomic Analysis for Antiobesity Potential of Capsaicin on White Adipose Tissue in Rats Fed with a High Fat Diet”

DOWNLOAD FULL TEXT ARTICLE http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/pr901175w

CONTACT: Jong Won Yun, Ph.D. Department of Biotechnology Daegu University Kyungsan, Kyungbuk Korea Phone: 82-53-850-6556 Fax: 82-53-850-6559 Email: jwyun@daegu.ac.kr

New evidence that green tea may help fight glaucoma and other eye diseases

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Michael Bernstein
m_bernstein@acs.org
202-872-6042
American Chemical Society

This release is available in Chinese.

Scientists have confirmed that the healthful substances found in green tea — renowned for their powerful antioxidant and disease-fighting properties — do penetrate into tissues of the eye. Their new report, the first documenting how the lens, retina, and other eye tissues absorb these substances, raises the possibility that green tea may protect against glaucoma and other common eye diseases. It appears in ACS’s bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Chi Pui Pang and colleagues point out that so-called green tea “catechins” have been among a number of antioxidants thought capable of protecting the eye. Those include vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Until now, however, nobody knew if the catechins in green tea actually passed from the stomach and gastrointestinal tract into the tissues of the eye.

Pang and his colleagues resolved that uncertainty in experiments with laboratory rats that drank green tea. Analysis of eye tissues showed beyond a doubt that eye structures absorbed significant amounts of individual catechins. The retina, for example, absorbed the highest levels of gallocatechin, while the aqueous humor tended to absorb epigallocatechin. The effects of green tea catechins in reducing harmful oxidative stress in the eye lasted for up to 20 hours. “Our results indicate that green tea consumption could benefit the eye against oxidative stress,” the report concludes.

 

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ARTICLE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“Green Tea Catechins and Their Oxidative Protection in the Rat Eye”

DOWNLOAD FULL TEXT ARTICLE
http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/jf9032602

CONTACT:
Chi Pui Pang, Ph.D.
Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong Eye Hospital
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Phone: 852 27623169
Fax: 852 27159490
Email: cppang@cuhk.edu.hk

‘Dung of the devil’ plant roots point to new swine flu drugs: Showed greater potency against influenza A (H1N1) than a prescription antiviral drugs

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Michael Woods m_woods@acs.org 202-872-6293 American Chemical Society

Scientists in China have discovered that roots of a plant used a century ago during the great Spanish influenza pandemic contains substances with powerful effects in laboratory experiments in killing the H1N1 swine flu virus that now threatens the world. The plant has a pleasant onion-like taste when cooked, but when raw it has sap so foul-smelling that some call it the “Dung of the Devil” plant. Their report is scheduled for the Sept. 25 issue of ACS’ Journal of Natural Products, a monthly publication.

In the study, Fang-Rong Chang and Yang-Chang Wu and colleagues note that the plant, Ferula assa-foetida, grows mainly in Iran, Afghanistan and mainland China. People used it as a possible remedy during the1918 Spanish flu pandemic that killed between 20 to 100 million people. Until now, however, nobody had determined whether the plant does produce natural antiviral compounds.

Chang and Wu identified a group of chemical compounds in extracts of the plant that showed greater potency against influenza A (H1N1) than a prescription antiviral drug available for the flu. “Overall, the present study has determined that sesquiterpene coumarins from F. assa-foetida may serve as promising lead components for new drug development against influenza A (H1N1) viral infection,” the authors write.

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ARTICLE #1 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE “Influenza A (H1N1) Antiviral and Cytotoxic Agents from Ferula assa-foetida”

DOWNLOAD FULL TEXT ARTICLE: http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/np900158f

CONTACT: Fang-Rong Chang, Ph.D. Yang-Chang Wu, Ph.D. Kaohsiung Medical University. Kaohsiung 807, Taiwan, Republic of China Phone: 886-7-312-1101, ext. 2197 Fax: 886-7-311-4773 E-mail: yachwu@kmu.edu.tw or aaronfrc@kmu.edu.tw

140th Health Research Report 19 OCT 2012 – Video Briefing

Research Topics:
Carob and Listeria,
Creativity and Mental Illness,
Brief Exercise and Metabolism
Vitamin C and Bone Density,
Caffiene and Memory Repair

The only thing really Evil here, is me Butchering the pronunciation of some of these terms. I do this unedited, and unrehearsed, and totally unprepared. 😉

Leaves of carob tree, source of chocolate substitute, fight food-poisoning bacteria: Listeria

Contact: Michael Bernstein
m_bernstein@acs.org
202-872-6042
American Chemical Society

Leaves of the plant that yields carob — the substitute for chocolate that some consider healthier than chocolate — are a rich source of antibacterial substances ideal for fighting the microbe responsible for listeriosis, a serious form of food poisoning, according to a report in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Nadhem Aissani and colleagues explain that the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria has fostered a search for new natural substances to preserve food and control disease-causing microbes. They cite a need for new substances to combat Listeria monocytogenes, bacteria that caused food poisoning outbreaks in a dozen states with three deaths so far this year. Carob has attracted attention as a potential antibacterial substance, but until now, scientists had not tested it against Listeria. Carob may be best-known as a substitute for chocolate that does not contain caffeine or theobromine, which makes chocolate toxic to dogs.

Their report describes tests in which extracts of carob leaves proved effective in inhibiting the growth of Listeria bacteria growing in laboratory cultures. Further, it offers a possible explanation for the antibacterial action. The results were promising enough for the scientists to plan further tests of carob extracts on Listeria growing in meat and fish samples.

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The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 164,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

New analysis of drinking water-related gastrointestinal illness: May Cause up to cause of up to 1.1 million annual cases of acute gastrointestinal illness

Contact: Michael Bernstein m_bernstein@acs.org 202-872-6042 American Chemical Society

The distribution system piping in U.S. public water systems that rely on non-disinfected well water or “ground water” may be a largely unrecognized cause of up to 1.1 million annual cases of acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI), involving nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, scientists are reporting. Their study in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology concludes that such illnesses may become more of a problem as much of the nation’s drinking water supply system continues to age and deteriorate.

Frank J. Loge, Mark A. Borchardt and colleagues explain that more than 100 million people in the U.S. rely on water piped into homes, schools and businesses from public water systems that get their water from wells, rather than lakes, rivers and other above-ground sources. Much of that water either is not disinfected at all or is not adequately disinfected to kill disease-causing viruses.

Their new analysis of the risk of AGI from these well-based water supply systems concluded that contamination of distribution system piping may be responsible for 470,000 to 1.1 million cases of AGI every year. They also warn that the incidence of AGI from public water systems is likely to rise in coming years: “So far insufficient financial investments have been made to improve water infrastructure, and small systems are particularly at risk for lack of funds and personnel. As most of the national water distribution infrastructure is reaching the end of its design life in the coming decades, the frequency and health impacts of distribution system deficiencies will likely worsen.”

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The authors acknowledge support from U.S. EPA STAR.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 164,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Record 4.02 billion prescriptions in United States in 2011

Contact: Michael Bernstein m_bernstein@acs.org 202-872-6042 American Chemical Society

People in the United States took more prescription drugs than ever last year, with the number of prescriptions increasing from 3.99 billion (with a cost of $308.6 billion) in 2010 to 4.02 billion (with a cost of $319.9 billion) in 2011. Those numbers and others appear in an annual profile of top prescription medicines published in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience.

Journal Editor-in-Chief Craig W. Lindsley analyzed data on 2011 drugs with a focus on medications for central nervous system (CNS) disorders. So-called antipsychotic medicines — including those used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Tourette syndrome and some forms of depression — ranked as the fifth most-prescribed class of drugs by sales. Antidepressants, for conditions that include depression and anxiety, ranked No. 7.

XanaxTM, CelexaTM and ZoloftTM were the most-prescribed psychiatric medicines, with other depression and anxiety medications rounding out the top 10. Two antipsychotics were among the 10 drugs that Americans spent the most on, with AbilifyTM in fourth place. Lindsley explains that while antidepressants continued to be the most-prescribed class of CNS drugs in 2011, prescriptions for ADHD medicines increased by 17 percent and multiple sclerosis medications by 22.5 percent in sales from 2010. While expiring patents on major antipsychotics in the next few years will put pressure on drug makers to innovate, the industry should be heartened by the growth of the number of prescriptions and spending.

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The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 164,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Concern about plans to close unique Canadian environmental project

Contact: Michael Bernstein m_bernstein@acs.org 202-872-6042 American Chemical Society

The Canadian government’s plans to discontinue in 2013 a unique environmental research project that has yielded insights into water pollution, climate change and other topics for almost 40 years would be a “huge loss not only to science but to the scientific heritage of humanity.” That’s the focus of a viewpoint article in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology.

J. G. Hering, D. L. Swackhamer and W. H. Schlesinger explain that the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) comprises 58 freshwater lakes and their watersheds in remote areas of the province of Ontario, where researchers can study how human influences impact complex, real-world waterways. The governments of Canada and Ontario put these waters under protection in 1968. Since then, scientists from around the world have conducted numerous long-term and ecosystem-scale experiments, producing 750 peer-reviewed reports, that the authors say would have been impossible elsewhere.

The Canadian government’s plans to shutter the ELA fostered widespread concern among scientists. The authors reflect that concern in arguing: “In a world facing unprecedented effects of global climate change, we can ill afford to abandon a facility that offers the unique combination of long-term monitoring and the capacity for ecosystem-scale experimentation.”

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The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 164,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Study of insecticide neurotoxicity yields clues to onset of Parkinson’s Disease, permethrin

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 24, 2003 — A grant from the U.S. Army has led Virginia Tech researchers to discover that exposure to some insecticides may cause a cascade of chemical events in the brain that could lead to Parkinson’s Disease.

Jeffrey R. Bloomquist, a neurotoxicologist and associate professor in the university’s Department of Entomology, will describe his findings as part of the International Award for Research in Agrochemicals, a symposium honoring Robert M. Hollingworth, at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans this week.

“We found low-level exposures set in motion a process with an early onset that develops slowly and is persistent,” Bloomquist said. “More surprising is that high-level exposures resulted in few immediate effects that we could observe, but in the longer term there was a delayed effect.”

The Virginia Tech researchers studied the levels of dopamine, dopamine transporter protein expression, and the levels of a synaptic protein (alpha-synuclein) in mice exposed to various doses of the insecticide permethrin. The increase in dopamine uptake indicated the mouse’s system was reacting to a neurochemical insult caused by the presence of the insecticide. The slow response to high levels of exposure to pesticides is caused, Bloomquist thinks, by the system being overloaded and only after a period of a few weeks is it capable of responding to the insult in the same way as low doses.

In some individuals, dopamine-producing neurons may be challenged by genetic factors or by previous exposure to other neurotoxins. For individuals with a genetic predisposition, exposure to permethrin may trigger chemical events in the brain that result in an increased risk for damage to the area of the brain that is selectively damaged in Parkinson’s disease.

The loss of motor skills, resulting in symptoms such as muscle rigidity, shuffling gait, and a rhythmic tremor, has been linked to the loss of dopamine production in the brain. That loss of dopamine is the major neurochemical expression of Parkinson’s Disease.

“Our studies have documented low-dose effects of permethrin, doses below one-one thousandth of a lethal dose for a mouse, with effects on those brain pathways involved in Parkinson’s Disease,” he said. “We have found effects consistent with a pre-parkinsonsian condition, but not yet full-blown parkinsonism.”

Bloomquist also found permethrin exposure resulted in an overproduction of the protein alpha-synuclein at low doses. The accumulation of the protein is a major component of the formation of the Lewy bodies, fibrous tangles observed in the brains of patients with Parkinson’s Disease.

The studies so far have concentrated on two-week exposures in mice. Bloomquist hopes to continue the work, looking at longer-term exposure. He is also studying the effects of another widely used pesticide, chlorpyrifos.

Bloomquist and his co-investigator, Dr. Bradley Klein, are supported by a five year, $584,558 grant from the United States Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. One purpose of the Neurotoxin Exposure Treatment Research Program, under which the project was funded, is to determine if military operational and deployment exposures increase risks for neurodegenerative disease and, if so, determine means of protecting troops.

“Permethrin is used worldwide in agriculture and urban settings,” Bloomquist said. “Widespread human exposure to this compound occurs, so its effects are not limited to soldiers.”

The talk, “Low-dose effects of insecticides to dopaminergic pathways involved in parkinsonism” (AGRO 31) will be presented at 2 p.m. Monday, March 24, in the Hampton Inn Convention Center Fulton room.

Artificial butter flavoring ingredient linked to key Alzheimer’s disease process

Public release date: 1-Aug-2012

A new study raises concern about chronic exposure of workers in industry to a food flavoring ingredient used to produce the distinctive buttery flavor and aroma of microwave popcorn, margarines, snack foods, candy, baked goods, pet foods and other products. It found evidence that the ingredient, diacetyl (DA), intensifies the damaging effects of an abnormal brain protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease. The study appears in ACS’ journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.

Robert Vince and colleagues Swati More and Ashish Vartak explain that DA has been the focus of much research recently because it is linked to respiratory and other problems in workers at microwave popcorn and food-flavoring factories. DA gives microwave popcorn its distinctive buttery taste and aroma. DA also forms naturally in fermented beverages such as beer, and gives some chardonnay wines a buttery taste. Vince’s team realized that DA has an architecture similar to a substance that makes beta-amyloid proteins clump together in the brain — clumping being a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. So they tested whether DA also could clump those proteins.

DA did increase the level of beta-amyloid clumping. At real-world occupational exposure levels, DA also enhanced beta-amyloid’s toxic effects on nerve cells growing in the laboratory. Other lab experiments showed that DA easily penetrated the so-called “blood-brain barrier,” which keeps many harmful substances from entering the brain. DA also stopped a protective protein called glyoxalase I from safeguarding nerve cells. “In light of the chronic exposure of industry workers to DA, this study raises the troubling possibility of long-term neurological toxicity mediated by DA,” say the researchers.

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The authors acknowledge funding from the Center for Drug Design (CDD) research endowment funds at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 164,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.