Dad’s obesity could be inherited by multiple generations

Contact: Dr. Tod Fullston tod.fullston@adelaide.edu.au 61-883-138-188 University of Adelaide

The sperm of obese fathers could increase the risk of both their children and their grandchildren inheriting obesity, according to new research from  University of Adelaide.

In laboratory studies, researchers from the University’s Robinson Institute have found that molecular signals in the sperm of obese fathers can lead to obesity and diabetes-like symptoms in two generations of offspring, even though the offspring are eating healthily.

The results of the research are published online in The FASEB Journal.

“A father’s diet changes the molecular makeup of the sperm.  With obese fathers, the changes in their sperm – in their microRNA molecules – might program the embryo for obesity or metabolic disease later in life,” says the lead author of the paper, Dr Tod Fullston, who is an NHMRC Peter Doherty Fellow with the University’s Robinson Institute, based in Dr Michelle Lane’s Gamete and Embryo Biology Group.

“For female offspring, there is an increased risk of becoming overweight or obese.  What we’ve also found is that there is an increased chance of both male and female offspring developing metabolic disease similar to type 2 diabetes.

“This is the first report of both male and female offspring inheriting a metabolic disease due to their father’s obesity,” he says.

The study also extended into the second generation of progeny, which showed signs of similar metabolic disorders, including obesity, although it was not as severe as the first generation.

Dr Fullston says even if the obese father does not show any signs of diabetes, metabolic disease similar to diabetes was being seen in two generations of their descendants.

“It’s been known for some time that the health of a mother before, during and after pregnancy can impact on her child’s health, but the father’s health during this period is often overlooked,” Dr Fullston says.

“If our laboratory studies are translatable to humans, this could be a new and as yet unexplored intervention window into the epidemic of childhood obesity.

“A focus on the mother’s health is extremely important, but we’re seeing that the father’s health is also important for conception. It’s possible that by showing additional attention to diet and exercise in the father, this could have a positive impact on his future children and grandchildren.”

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Media Contact:

Dr Tod Fullston NHMRC Peter Doherty Fellow Robinson Institute The University of Adelaide Phone: +61 8 8313 8188 tod.fullston@adelaide.edu.au

Eating junk food while pregnant may make your child a junk food addict

Contact: Cody Mooneyhan cmooneyhan@faseb.org 301-634-7104 Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

New research in The FASEB Journal shows that eating a junk food diet during pregnancy changes the development of the opioid signaling pathway in the baby’s brain, resulting in decreased sensitivity

Bethesda, MD—Here’s another reason why a healthy diet during pregnancy is critical to the future health of your children: New research published in the March 2013 issue of The FASEB Journal, suggests that pregnant mothers who consume junk food actually cause changes in the development of the opioid signaling pathway in the brains of their unborn children. This change results in the babies being less sensitive to opioids, which are released upon consumption of foods that are high in fat and sugar. In turn, these children, born with a higher “tolerance” to junk food need to eat more of it to achieve a “feel good” response.

“The results of this research will ultimately allow us to better inform pregnant women about the lasting effect their diet has on the development of their child’s lifelong good preferences and risk of metabolic disease,” said Beverly Muhlhausler, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the FOODplus Research Centre at the School of Agriculture Food and Wine at The University of Adelaide in Adelaide, Australia.  “Hopefully, this will encourage mothers to make healthier diet choices which will lead to healthier children.”

To make this discovery, Muhlausler and colleagues studied the pups of two groups of rats, one of which had been fed a normal rat food and the other which had been fed a range of human “junk foods” during pregnancy and lactation. After weaning, the pups were given daily injections of an opioid receptor blocker, which blocks opioid signaling. Blocking opioid signaling lowers the intake of fat and sugar by preventing the release of dopamine. Results showed that the opioid receptor blocker was less effective at reducing fat and sugar intake in the pups of the junk food fed mothers, suggesting that the opioid signaling pathway in these offspring is less sensitive than for pups whose mothers are eating a standard rat feed.

“This study shows that addiction to junk food is true addiction.” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “Junk food engages the same body chemistry as opium, morphine or heroin. Sad to say, junk food during pregnancy turns the kids into junk food junkies.”

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Receive monthly highlights from The FASEB Journal by e-mail. Sign up at http://www.faseb.org/fjupdate.aspx. The FASEB Journal is published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). It is among the most cited biology journals worldwide according to the Institute for Scientific Information and has been recognized by the Special Libraries Association as one of the top 100 most influential biomedical journals of the past century. FASEB is composed of 26 societies with more than 100,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. Its mission is to advance health and welfare by promoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences through service to its member societies and through collaborative advocacy.

Details: Jessica R. Gugusheff, Zhi Yi Ong, and Beverly S. Muhlhausler. A maternal “junk-food” diet reduces sensitivity to the opioid antagonist naloxone in offspring postweaning.  FASEB J March 2013 27:1275-1284, doi:10.1096/fj.12-217653  ;  http://www.fasebj.org/content/27/3/1275.abstract

 

A ‘neurosteroid’ found to prevent brain injury caused by HIV/AIDS : DHEA-S

Contact: Cody Mooneyhan cmooneyhan@faseb.org 301-634-7104 Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

New research in The FASEB Journal suggests that a network of steroid molecules found in the brain is disrupted during HIV infection, and treatment with the steroid DHEA-S prevents brain damage

Bethesda, MD—A team of scientists from Canada, Thailand and Morocco have found that DHEA-S may prevent neurocognitive impairment that affects a significant percentage of AIDS patients. In a report appearing in the February 2013 issue of The FASEB Journal, they describe how a network of steroid molecules found in the brain, termed “neurosteroids,” is disrupted during HIV infection leading to brain damage. This suggests that treatment with one of these steroid molecules, called DHEA-S, may offset the disruption caused by the virus to prevent or reduce brain damage.

“From these studies, we have gained a better understanding of how HIV injures the brain during AIDS, together with developing a new treatment approach for the resulting neurological disabilities arising from HIV/AIDS,” said Christopher Power, M.D., co-author of this study from the Department of Medicine at the Medical Research Centre at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

To make their discovery, Power and colleagues initially found that neurosteroid enzyme levels were suppressed in the brains of people with HIV/AIDS and that a neurosteroid molecule, DHEA-S, prevented damage to cultured brain cells (neurons) caused by HIV. Then, using an animal model of AIDS, they showed that treatment with DHEA-S prevented neuronal damage in the brain by reducing the adverse effects of HIV. Neurosteroids have already been proposed as treatments for epilepsy, head injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, and these findings extend the potential treatment applications for neurosteroid-related molecules.

“Most people know that AIDS wreaks total havoc on our immune systems,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, “but far fewer people know that the disease can also lead to noticeable brain damage. This research study offers an explanation why this occurs as well as a possible solution for preventing it. The next steps, of course, involve looking into whether or not people will benefit from some form of DHEA-S treatment.”

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Receive monthly highlights from The FASEB Journal by e-mail. Sign up at http://www.faseb.org/fjupdate.aspx.

The FASEB Journal is published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). It is among the most cited biology journals worldwide according to the Institute for Scientific Information and has been recognized by the Special Libraries Association as one of the top 100 most influential biomedical journals of the past century. FASEB is composed of 26 societies with more than 100,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. Its mission is to advance health and welfare by promoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences through service to its member societies and through collaborative advocacy.

Details: Ferdinand G. Maingat, Maria J. Polyak, Amber M. Paul, Pornpun Vivithanaporn, Farshid Noorbakhsh, Samir Ahboucha, Glen B. Baker, Keir Pearson, and Christopher Power. Neurosteroid-mediated regulation of brain innate immunity in HIV/AIDS: DHEA-S suppresses neurovirulence.  FASEB J February 2013 27:725-737; doi:10.1096/fj.12-215079;  http://www.fasebj.org/content/27/2/725.abstract.

Virgin olive oil and a Mediterranean diet fight heart disease by changing how our genes function

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Cody Mooneyhan cmooneyhan@faseb.org 301-634-7104 Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

New research in the FASEB Journal suggests that the polyphenols in virgin olive oil modify the expression of atherosclerosis-related genes, leading to health benefits

Everyone knows olive oil and a Mediterranean diet are associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease, but a new research report published in the July 2010 print issue of the FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) offers a surprising reason why: These foods change how genes associated with atherosclerosis function.

“Knowing which genes can be modulated by diet in a healthy way can help people select healthy diets,” said Maria Isabel Covas, D.Pharm., Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Cardiovascular Risk and Nutrition Research Group at the Institut Municipal d’Investigacio Medica in Barcelona, Spain.  “It is also a first step for future nutritional therapies with selected foods.”

Scientists worked with three groups of healthy volunteers. The first group consumed a traditional Mediterranean diet with virgin olive oil rich in polyphenols. The second group consumed a traditional Mediterranean diet with an olive oil low in polyphenols. The third group followed their habitual diet. After three months, the first group had a down-regulation in the expression of atherosclerosis-related genes in their peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Additionally, the olive oil polyphenols made a significant impact on the expression of genetic changes influencing coronary heart disease. Results also showed that the consumption of virgin olive oil in conjunction with a Mediterranean diet can positively impact lipid and DNA oxidation, insulin resistance, inflammation, carcinogenesis, and tumor suppression.

“This study is ground breaking because it shows that olive oil and a Mediterranean diet affect our bodies in a far more significant way than previously believed,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal. “Not only does this research offer more support for encouraging people to change their eating habits, it is an important first step toward identifying drug targets that affect how our genes express themselves.”

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Receive monthly highlights from the FASEB Journal by e-mail. Sign up at http://www.faseb.org/fjupdate.aspx. The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) is published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). The journal has been recognized by the Special Libraries Association as one of the top 100 most influential biomedical journals of the past century and is the most cited biology journal worldwide according to the Institute for Scientific Information.

FASEB comprises 23 societies with more than 100,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. FASEB enhances the ability of scientists and engineers to improve—through their research—the health, well-being and productivity of all people. FASEB’s mission is to advance health and welfare by promoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences through service to our member societies and collaborative advocacy.

Details: Valentini Konstantinidou, Maria-Isabel Covas, Daniel Muñoz-Aguayo, Olha Khymenets, Rafael de la Torre, Guillermo Saez, Maria del Carmen Tormos, Estefania Toledo, Amelia Marti, Valentina Ruiz-Gutiérrez, Maria Victoria Ruiz Mendez, and Montserrat Fito. In vivo nutrigenomic effects of virgin olive oil polyphenols within the frame of the Mediterranean diet: a randomized controlled trial. FASEB J. 2010 24: 2546-2557; doi: 10.1096/fj.09-148452 ; http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/abstract/24/7/2546

Polyphenols in red wine and green tea halt prostate cancer growth

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Cody Mooneyhan cmooneyhan@faseb.org 301-634-7104 Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

New report in the FASEB Journal suggests that disrupting a particular cellular signaling pathway could stop or slow the initiation, promotion, and progression of prostate cancer

In what could lead to a major advance in the treatment of prostate cancer, scientists now know exactly why polyphenols in red wine and green tea inhibit cancer growth. This new discovery, published online in The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org), explains how antioxidants in red wine and green tea produce a combined effect to disrupt an important cell signaling pathway necessary for prostate cancer growth. This finding is important because it may lead to the development of drugs that could stop or slow cancer progression, or improve current treatments.

“Not only does SphK1/S1P signaling pathway play a role in prostate cancer, but it also plays a role in other cancers, such as colon cancer, breast cancer, and gastric cancers,” said Gerald Weissmann, MD, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal. “Even if future studies show that drinking red wine and green tea isn’t as effective in humans as we hope, knowing that the compounds in those drinks disrupts this pathway is an important step toward developing drugs that hit the same target.”

Scientists conducted in vitro experiments which showed that the inhibition of the sphingosine kinase-1/sphingosine 1-phosphate (SphK1/S1P) pathway was essential for green tea and wine polyphenols to kill prostate cancer cells. Next, mice genetically altered to develop a human prostate cancer tumor were either treated or not treated with green tea and wine polyphenols. The treated mice showed reduced tumor growth as a result of the inhibited SphK1/S1P pathway. To mimic the preventive effects of polyphenols, another experiment used three groups of mice given drinking water, drinking water with a green tea compound known as EGCg, or drinking water with a different green tea compound, polyphenon E. Human prostate cancer cells were implanted in the mice and results showed a dramatic decrease in tumor size in the mice drinking the EGCg or polyphenon E mixtures.

“The profound impact that the antioxidants in red wine and green tea have on our bodies is more than anyone would have dreamt just 25 years ago,” Weissmann added. “As long as they are taken in moderation, all signs show that red wine and green tea may be ranked among the most potent ‘health foods’ we know.”

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Receive monthly highlights from The FASEB Journal by e-mail. Sign up at http://www.faseb.org/fjupdate.aspx. The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) is published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). The journal has been recognized by the Special Libraries Association as one of the top 100 most influential biomedical journals of the past century and is the most cited biology journal worldwide according to the Institute for Scientific Information.

FASEB comprises 23 societies with more than 100,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. FASEB enhances the ability of scientists and engineers to improve—through their research—the health, well-being and productivity of all people. FASEB’s mission is to advance health and welfare by promoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences through service to our member societies and collaborative advocacy.

Details: Leyre Brizuela, Audrey Dayon, Nicolas Doumerc, Isabelle Ader, Muriel Golzio, Jean-Claude Izard, Yukihiko Hara, Bernard Malavaud, and Olivier Cuvillier. The sphingosine kinase-1 survival pathway is a molecular target for the tumor-suppressive tea and wine polyphenols in prostate cancer. doi:10.1096/fj.10-160838 ; http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/abstract/fj.10-160838v1

Exposure to BPA may cause permanent fertility defects, Yale researchers find

2010 study posted for filing
Contact: Karen N. Peart
karen.peart@yale.edu
203-432-1326
Yale University

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have discovered that exposure during pregnancy to Bisphenol A (BPA), a common component of plastics, causes permanent abnormalities in the uterus of offspring, including alteration in their DNA. The findings were reported in the March issue of Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB J.).

Led by Hugh S. Taylor, M.D., professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at Yale, the study is the first to show that BPA exposure permanently affects sensitivity to estrogen.

Taylor and his team used two groups of mice, one exposed to BPA as a fetus during pregnancy and another exposed to a placebo. They examined gene expression and the amount of DNA modification in the uterus. They found that the mice exposed to BPA as a fetus had an exaggerated response to estrogens as adults, long after the exposure to BPA. The genes were permanently programmed to respond excessively to estrogen.

“The DNA in the uterus was modified by loss of methyl groups so that it responded abnormally in adulthood,” said Taylor. “The gene expression was permanently epigenetically altered and the uterus became hyper-responsive to estrogens.”

Taylor said that exposure to BPA as a fetus is carried throughout adulthood. “What our mothers were exposed to in pregnancy may influence the rest of our lives. We need to better identify the effect of environmental contaminants on not just crude measures such as birth defects, but also their effect in causing more subtle developmental errors.”

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Citation: The FASEB Journal (Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology) Vol. 24, Issue 3 (March 2010)

Why BPA leached from ‘safe’ plastics may damage health of female offspring

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Cody Mooneyhan
cmooneyhan@faseb.org
301-634-7104
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Yale scientists show how bisphenol A induces epigenetic changes in pregnant mice that cause hormonal imbalance in the later life of female progeny

Here’s more evidence that “safe” plastics are not as safe as once presumed: New research published online in The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) suggests that exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) during pregnancy leads to epigenetic changes that may cause permanent reproduction problems for female offspring. BPA, a common component of plastics used to contain food, is a type of estrogen that is ubiquitous in the environment.

“Exposure to BPA may be harmful during pregnancy; this exposure may permanently affect the fetus,” said Hugh S. Taylor, Ph.D., co-author of the study from Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. “We need to better identify the effects of environmental contaminants on not just crude measures such as birth defects, but also their effect in causing more subtle developmental errors.”

Taylor and colleagues made this discovery by exposing fetal mice to BPA during pregnancy and examining gene expression and DNA in the uteruses of female fetuses. Results showed that BPA exposure permanently affected the uterus by decreasing regulation of gene expression. These epigenetic changes caused the mice to over-respond to estrogen throughout adulthood, long after the BPA exposure. This suggests that early exposure to BPA genetically “programmed” the uterus to be hyper-responsive to estrogen. Extreme estrogen sensitivity can lead to fertility problems, advanced puberty, altered mammary development and reproductive function, as well as a variety of hormone-related cancers. BPA has been widely used in plastics and other materials. Examples include use in water bottles, baby bottles, epoxy resins used to coat food cans, and dental sealants.

“The BPA baby bottle scare may be only the tip of the iceberg.” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “Remember how diethylstilbestrol (DES) caused birth defects and cancers in young women whose mothers were given such hormones during pregnancy. We’d better watch out for BPA, which seems to carry similar epigenetic risks across the generations. ”

 

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Receive monthly highlights from The FASEB Journal by e-mail. Sign up at http://www.faseb.org/fjupdate.aspx. The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) is published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). The journal has been recognized by the Special Libraries Association as one of the top 100 most influential biomedical journals of the past century and is the most cited biology journal worldwide according to the Institute for Scientific Information.

FASEB comprises 23 societies with more than 90,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. FASEB enhances the ability of scientists and engineers to improve—through their research—the health, well-being and productivity of all people. FASEB’s mission is to advance health and welfare by promoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences through service to our member societies and collaborative advocacy.

Details: Jason G. Bromer, Yuping Zhou, Melissa B. Taylor, Leo Doherty, and Hugh S. Taylor. Bisphenol-A exposure in utero leads to epigenetic alterations in the developmental programming of uterine estrogen response. FASEB J (http://www.fasebj.org) doi:10.1096/fj.09-140533 http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/abstract/fj.09-140533v1

The FASEB Journal reports vitamin C reverses abnormalities caused by Werner syndrome gene, including cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart failure and high cholesterol

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Cody Mooneyhan cmooneyhan@faseb.org 301-634-7104 Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

New year, new vitamin C discovery: It ‘cures’ mice with accelerated aging disease

New research in the FASEB Journal reports vitamin C reverses abnormalities caused by Werner syndrome gene, including cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart failure and high cholesterol

A new research discovery published in the January 2010 print issue of the FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) suggests that treatments for disorders that cause accelerated aging, particularly Werner’s syndrome, might come straight from the family medicine chest. In the research report, a team of Canadian scientists show that vitamin C stops and even reverses accelerated aging in a mouse model of Werner’s syndrome, but the discovery may also be applicable to other progeroid syndromes. People with Werner’s syndrome begin to show signs of accelerated aging in their 20s and develop age-related diseases and generally die before the age of 50.

“Our study clearly indicates that a healthy organism or individuals with no health problems do not require a large amount of vitamin C in order to increase their lifespan, especially if they have a balanced diet and they exercise,” said Michel Lebel, Ph.D., co-author of the study from the Centre de Recherche en Cancerologie in Quebec, Canada. “An organism or individual with a mutation in the WRN gene or any gene affected by the WRN protein, and thus predisposes them to several age-related diseases, may benefit from a diet with the appropriate amount of vitamin C.”

Scientists treated both normal mice and mice with a mutation in the gene responsible for Werner’s syndrome (WRN gene) with vitamin C in drinking water. Before treatment, the mice with a mutated WRN gene were fat, diabetic, and developing heart disease and cancer. After treatment, the mutant mice were as healthy as the normal mice and lived a normal lifespan. Vitamin C also improved how the mice stored and burned fat, decreased tissue inflammation and decreased oxidative stress in the WRN mice. The healthy mice did not appear to benefit from vitamin C.

“Vitamin C has become one of the most misunderstood substances in our medicine cabinets and food,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal. “This study and others like it help explain how and why this chemical can help to defend some, but certainly not all, people from premature senescence.”

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Receive monthly highlights from The FASEB Journal by e-mail. Sign up at http://www.faseb.org/fasebjournalreaders.htm. The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) is published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). The journal has been recognized by the Special Libraries Association as one of the top 100 most influential biomedical journals of the past century and is the most cited biology journal worldwide according to the Institute for Scientific Information. FASEB is composed of 23 societies with more than 90,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. FASEB enhances the ability of biomedical and life scientists to improve-through their research-the health, well-being and productivity of all people. Its mission is to advance health and welfare by promoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences through service to our member societies and collaborative advocacy.

Details: Laurent Massip, Chantal Garand, Eric R. Paquet, Victoria C. Cogger, Jennifer N. O’Reilly, Leslee Tworek, Avril Hatherell, Carla G. Taylor, Eric Thorin, Peter Zahradka, David G. Le Couteur, and Michel Lebel. Vitamin C restores healthy aging in a mouse model for Werner syndrome. FASEB J. 2010 24: 158-172. http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/abstract/24/1/158

The new ‘epigenetics:’ Poor nutrition in the womb causes permanent genetic changes in the offspring

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Cody Mooneyhan cmooneyhan@faseb.org 301-634-7104 Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

New research study in the FASEB Journal explains how poor maternal nutrition passes health risk across generations

The new science of epigenetics explains how genes can be modified by the environment, and a prime result of epigenetic inquiry has just been published online in The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org): You are what your mother did not eat during pregnancy. In the research report, scientists from the University of Utah show that rat fetuses receiving poor nutrition in the womb become genetically primed to be born into an environment lacking proper nutrition. As a result of this genetic adaptation, the rats were likely to grow to smaller sizes than their normal counterparts.  At the same time, they were also at higher risk for a host of health problems throughout their lives, such as diabetes, growth retardation, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and neurodevelopmental delays, among others. Although the study involved rats, the genes and cellular mechanisms involved are the same as those in humans.

“Our study emphasizes that maternal–fetal health influences multiple healthcare issues across generations,” said Robert Lane, professor of pediatric neonatology at the University of Utah, and one of the senior researchers involved in the study.  “To reduce adult diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, we need to understand how the maternal–fetal environment influences the health of offspring.”

The scientists made this discovery through experiments involving two groups of rats. The first group was normal.  The second group had the delivery of nutrients from their mothers’ placentas restricted in a way that is equivalent to preeclampsia. The rats were examined right after birth and again at 21 days (21 days is essentially a preadolescent rat) to measure the amount of a protein, called IGF-1, that promotes normal development and growth in rats and humans. They found that the lack of nutrients caused the gene responsible for IGF-1 to significantly reduce the amount of IGF-1 produced in the body before and after birth.

“The new ‘epigenetics’ has taught us how nature is changed by nurture,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “The jury’s in and, yes, expectant moms really are eating for two. This study shows not only that we need to address problems such as preeclampsia during pregnancy, but also that prenatal care is far more important than anyone could have imagined a decade ago.”

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Receive monthly highlights from The FASEB Journal by e-mail. Sign up at http://www.faseb.org/fasebjournalreaders.htm. The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) is published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). The journal has been recognized by the Special Libraries Association as one of the top 100 most influential biomedical journals of the past century and is the most cited biology journal worldwide according to the Institute for Scientific Information.  FASEB comprises 22 nonprofit societies with more than 80,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States.  FASEB advances biological science through collaborative advocacy for research policies that promote scientific progress and education and lead to improvements in human health.

Details: Qi Fu, Xing Yu, Christopher W. Callaway, Robert H. Lane, and Robert A. McKnight. Epigenetics: intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) modifies the histone code along the rat hepatic IGF-1 gene. FASEB J. doi:10.1096/fj.08-124768 http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/abstract/fj.08-124768v1

No longer a gray area: Our hair bleaches itself as we grow older

Contact: Cody Mooneyhan
cmooneyhan@faseb.org
301-634-7104
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

New research report in the FASEB Journal gets to the roots of gray hair

Wash away your gray? Maybe. A team of European scientists have finally solved a mystery that has perplexed humans throughout the ages: why we turn gray. Despite the notion that gray hair is a sign of wisdom, these researchers show in a research report published online in The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) that wisdom has nothing to do with it. Going gray is caused by a massive build up of hydrogen peroxide due to wear and tear of our hair follicles. The peroxide winds up blocking the normal synthesis of melanin, our hair’s natural pigment.

“Not only blondes change their hair color with hydrogen peroxide,” said Gerald Weissmann, MD, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “All of our hair cells make a tiny bit of hydrogen peroxide, but as we get older, this little bit becomes a lot. We bleach our hair pigment from within, and our hair turns gray and then white. This research, however, is an important first step to get at the root of the problem, so to speak.”

The researchers made this discovery by examining cell cultures of human hair follicles. They found that the build up of hydrogen peroxide was caused by a reduction of an enzyme that breaks up hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen (catalase). They also discovered that hair follicles could not repair the damage caused by the hydrogen peroxide because of low levels of enzymes that normally serve this function (MSR A and B). Further complicating matters, the high levels of hydrogen peroxide and low levels of MSR A and B, disrupt the formation of an enzyme (tyrosinase) that leads to the production of melanin in hair follicles. Melanin is the pigment responsible for hair color, skin color, and eye color. The researchers speculate that a similar breakdown in the skin could be the root cause of vitiligo.

“As any blue-haired lady will attest, sometimes hair dyes don’t quite work as anticipated,” Weissmann added. “This study is a prime example of how basic research in biology can benefit us in ways never imagined.”

 

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Research study details: J. M. Wood, H. Decker, H. Hartmann, B. Chavan, H. Rokos, J. D. Spencer, S. Hasse, M. J. Thornton, M. Shalbaf, R. Paus, and K. U. Schallreuter. Senile hair graying: H2O2-mediated oxidative stress affects human hair color by blunting methionine sulfoxide repair. FASEB J. doi:10.1096/fj.08-125435. http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/abstract/fj.08-125435v1

The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) is published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) and is the most cited journal worldwide according to the Institute for Scientific Information. FASEB comprises 22 nonprofit societies with more than 80,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. FASEB advances biological science through collaborative advocacy for research policies that promote scientific progress and education and lead to improvements in human health.

Nutrient in Eggs and Meat May Influence Gene Expression from Infancy to Adulthood: Choline

 

 

Implications for Wide Range of Disorders – Hypertension to Mental Health Problems

 

September 20, 2012

 

Just as women are advised to get plenty of folic acid around the time of conception and throughout early pregnancy, new research suggests another very similar nutrient may one day deserve a spot on the obstetrician’s list of recommendations.

 

Consuming greater amounts of choline – a nutrient found in eggs and meat – during pregnancy may lower an infant’s vulnerability to stress-related illnesses, such as mental health disturbances, and chronic conditions, like hypertension, later in life.

 

In an early study in The FASEB Journal, nutrition scientists and obstetricians at Cornell University and the University of Rochester Medical Center found that higher-than-normal amounts of choline in the diet during pregnancy changed epigenetic markers – modifications on our DNA that tell our genes to switch on or off, to go gangbusters or keep a low profile – in the fetus. While epigenetic markers don’t change our genes, they make a permanent imprint by dictating their fate: If a gene is not expressed – turned on – it’s as if it didn’t exist.

 

The finding became particularly exciting when researchers discovered that the affected markers were those that regulated the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal or HPA axis, which controls virtually all hormone activity in the body, including the production of the hormone cortisol that reflects our response to stress and regulates our metabolism, among other things.

 

More choline in the mother’s diet led to a more stable HPA axis and consequently less cortisol in the fetus. As with many aspects of our health, stability is a very good thing: Past research has shown that early exposure to high levels of cortisol, often a result of a mother’s anxiety or depression, can increase a baby’s lifelong risk of stress-related and metabolic disorders.

 

“The study is important because it shows that a relatively simple nutrient can have significant effects in prenatal life, and that these effects likely continue to have a long-lasting influence on adult life,” said Eva K. Pressman, M.D., study author and director of the high-risk pregnancy program at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “While our results won’t change practice at this point, the idea that maternal choline intake could essentially change fetal genetic expression into adulthood is quite novel.”

 

Pressman, who advises pregnant women every day, says choline isn’t something people think a lot about because it is already present in many things we eat and there is usually no concern of choline deficiency. Though much more research has focused on folate – functionally very similar to choline and used to decrease the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida – a few very compelling studies sparked her interest, including animal studies on the role of choline in mitigating fetal alcohol syndrome and changing outcomes in Down syndrome.

 

A long-time collaborator with researchers at Cornell, Pressman joined a team led by Marie Caudill, Ph.D., R.D., professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell, in studying 26 pregnant women in their third trimester who were assigned to take 480 mg of choline per day, an amount slightly above the standard recommendation of 450 mg per day, or about double that amount, 930 mg per day. The choline was derived from the diet and from supplements and was consumed up until delivery.

 

The team found that higher maternal choline intake led to a greater amount of DNA methylation, a process in which methyl groups – one carbon atom linked to three hydrogen atoms – are added to our DNA. Choline is one of a handful of nutrients that provides methyl groups for this process. The addition of a single methyl group is all it takes to change an individual’s epigenome.

 

Measurements of cord blood and samples from the placenta showed that increased choline, via the addition of methyl groups, altered epigenetic markers that govern cortisol-regulating genes. Higher choline lessened the expression of these genes, leading to 33 percent lower cortisol in the blood of babies whose mom’s consumed 930 mg per day.

 

Study authors say the findings raise the exciting possibility that choline may be used therapeutically in cases where excess maternal stress from anxiety, depression or other prenatal conditions might make the fetal HPA axis more reactive and more likely to release greater-than-expected amounts of cortisol.

 

While more research is needed, Caudill says that her message to pregnant women would be to consume a diet that includes choline rich foods such as eggs, lean meat, beans and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. For women who limit their consumption of animal products, which are richer sources of choline than plant foods, she adds that supplemental choline may be warranted as choline is generally absent in prenatal vitamin supplements.

 

“One day we might prescribe choline in the same way we prescribe folate to all pregnant women,” notes Pressman, the James R. Woods Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “It is cheap and has virtually no side effects at the doses provided in this study. In the future, we could use choline to do even more good than we are doing right now.”

 

In addition to Pressman and Caudill, several scientists and clinicians from the Division of Nutritional Science and the Statistical Consulting Unit at Cornell and the Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca, N. Y., participated in the research. The study was funded by the Egg Nutrition Center, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Nebraska Beef Council, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the President’s Council of Cornell Women. The funding sources had no role in the study design, interpretation of the data, or publication of the results.

 

 

 

For Media Inquiries:

Emily Boynton

(585) 273-1757

Email Emily Boynton

 

A mother’s nutrition–before pregnancy–may alter the function of her children’s genes

Contact: cmooneyhan@faseb.org cmooneyhan@faseb.org 301-634-7104 Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

New research in The FASEB Journal shows that diet induces epigenetic changes in female mice before pregnancy that are inherited by her pups

Bethesda, MD—Everyone knows that what mom eats when pregnant makes a huge difference in the health of her child. Now, new research in mice suggests that what she ate before pregnancy might be important too. According to a new research report published online in The FASEB Journal, what a group of female mice ate—before pregnancy—chemically altered their DNA and these changes were passed to her offspring. These DNA alterations, called “epigenetic” changes, drastically affected the pups’ metabolism of many essential fatty acids. These results could have a profound impact on future research for diabetes, obesity, cancer, and immune disorders.

“As parents, we have to understand better that our responsibilities to our children are not only of a social, economical, or educational nature, but that our own biological status can contribute to the fate of our children, and this effect can be long-lasting,” said Mihai Niculescu, M.D., Ph.D., study author from Nutrition Research Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in Chapel Hill, N.C.  “My hope is that, along with many other scientists, we will reveal this tight biological relationship between us as parents, and our children, and how we can improve the lives of our children using our own biological machinery.”

To make this discovery, Niculescu and colleagues split mouse females into two groups before gestation, and fed them either a control diet, or a diet deficient in alpha-linolenic acid or ALA. This was achieved by replacing the type of fats in the diet, while keeping the number of calories the same. The females were bred with mouse males kept on a control diet. Immediately after the moms delivered the pups, each of these two initial groups were further split in two, so that each half of the initial groups received a flaxseed oil supplemented diet (rich in ALA), while the other halves from each group remained on the same diet. Researchers used blood and liver to look at polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) levels and the DNA methylation of a gene called Fads2, which regulates PUFA metabolism. They found that in both the moms and pups, flaxseed oil induced a change in this chemical modification in the Fads2 gene. Flaxseed oil supplementation increased the methylation of this gene, which, in turn, decreased the activation of the gene in pups. However, flaxseed oil was not the only factor with impact upon Fads2 methylation in pups. Results demonstrated that regardless of the flaxseed oil intake, there was a correlation between the methylation of this gene in moms and in their pups, which suggested that pups also inherit this methylation from their moms. The pups’ ability to transform PUFAs in their own livers was influenced by both the mother’s dietary intake, and also by maternal Fads2 methylation status.

“New York City may be laughed at by some for banning large, sugary sodas and for encouraging a healthy diet,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, “This report shows that future generations might not find that funny at all. This report adds to the large body of evidence that an inappropriate diet can produce changes in the function of our DNA and the DNA of our children—a process called epigenetics. As we begin understand the effects of diet on epigenetics, New York may go from being considered a funny ‘nanny-state’ to becoming appreciated as a public health visionary.”

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Receive monthly highlights from The FASEB Journal by e-mail. Sign up at http://www.faseb.org/fjupdate.aspx. The FASEB Journal is published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). It is among the most cited biology journals worldwide according to the Institute for Scientific Information and has been recognized by the Special Libraries Association as one of the top 100 most influential biomedical journals of the past century. FASEB is composed of 26 societies with more than 100,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. Celebrating 100 Years of Advancing the Life Sciences in 2012, FASEB is rededicating its efforts to advance health and well-being by promoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences through service to our member societies and collaborative advocacy.

Details:  Mihai D. Niculescu, Daniel S. Lupu, and Corneliu N. Craciunescu.  Perinatal manipulation of α-linolenic acid intake induces epigenetic changes in maternal and offspring livers. FASEB J. doi:10.1096/fj.12-210724  ;  http://www.fasebj.org/content/early/2012/09/19/fj.12-210724.abstract

FASEB opposes the Government Spending Accountability Act

Contact: Lawrence Green lgreen@faseb.org 301-634-7335 Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Bethesda, MD – The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) wrote to all  members of the House of Representatives expressing its opposition to the Government Spending Accountability (GSA) Act (HR 4631). While strongly supporting the bill’s goal and the desire to ensure that federal agencies are using their resources responsibly and efficiently, FASEB urged Representatives to oppose the bill in its current form. FASEB President Judith S. Bond PhD expressed  concern that, “if adopted, HR 4631 would impede the professional development of government scientists, hamper the ability of research agency staff to monitor scientific developments and make appropriate funding decisions based on new research, and reduce communication among researchers.”

In addition, she pointed out that “this bill would also place new restrictions on the ability of federal agencies to support conferences aimed at advancing the national research agenda.”

The FASEB letter states that it is important for federal agencies to have the capacity to provide support for a variety of scientific meetings and conferences. Many volunteer-led organizations serving patients, the public, and the research community administer multiple conferences per year. Dr. Bond emphasized the value of these meetings to the government and the public. “These conferences facilitate the public dissemination of research findings and support the training and professional development of the next  generation of scientists. By partnering with private organizations, federal agencies are able to reach broader audiences at a lower cost while promoting the public private partnership that has been a key part of the successful research enterprise.”

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FASEB is composed of 26 societies with more than 100,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. Celebrating 100 Years of Advancing the Life Sciences in 2012, FASEB is rededicating its efforts to advance health and well-being by promoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences through service to our member societies and collaborative advocacy.

Incense is psychoactive: Scientists identify the biology behind the ceremony: burning Bosweilla alleviates anxiety and depression

Contact: Cody Mooneyhan
cmooneyhan@faseb.org
301-634-7104
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

New study in the FASEB Journal shows how and why molecules released from burning incense in religious ceremonies alleviate anxiety and depression

Religious leaders have contended for millennia that burning incense is good for the soul. Now, biologists have learned that it is good for our brains too. In a new study appearing online in The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org), an international team of scientists, including researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, describe how burning frankincense (resin from the Boswellia plant) activates poorly understood ion channels in the brain to alleviate anxiety or depression. This suggests that an entirely new class of depression and anxiety drugs might be right under our noses.

“In spite of information stemming from ancient texts, constituents of Bosweilla had not been investigated for psychoactivity,” said Raphael Mechoulam, one of the research study’s co-authors. “We found that incensole acetate, a Boswellia resin constituent, when tested in mice lowers anxiety and causes antidepressive-like behavior. Apparently, most present day worshipers assume that incense burning has only a symbolic meaning.”

To determine incense’s psychoactive effects, the researchers administered incensole acetate to mice. They found that the compound significantly affected areas in brain areas known to be involved in emotions as well as in nerve circuits that are affected by current anxiety and depression drugs. Specifically, incensole acetate activated a protein called TRPV3, which is present in mammalian brains and also known to play a role in the perception of warmth of the skin. When mice bred without this protein were exposed to incensole acetate, the compound had no effect on their brains.

“Perhaps Marx wasn’t too wrong when he called religion the opium of the people: morphine comes from poppies, cannabinoids from marijuana, and LSD from mushrooms; each of these has been used in one or another religious ceremony.” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “Studies of how those psychoactive drugs work have helped us understand modern neurobiology. The discovery of how incensole acetate, purified from frankincense, works on specific targets in the brain should also help us understand diseases of the nervous system. This study also provides a biological explanation for millennia-old spiritual practices that have persisted across time, distance, culture, language, and religion—burning incense really does make you feel warm and tingly all over!”

According to the National Institutes of Health, major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States for people ages 15–44, affecting approximately 14.8 million American adults. A less severe form of depression, dysthymic disorder, affects approximately 3.3 million American adults. Anxiety disorders affect 40 million American adults, and frequently co-occur with depressive disorders.

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The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) is published by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) and is consistently ranked among the top three biology journals worldwide by the Institute for Scientific Information. FASEB comprises 21 nonprofit societies with more than 80,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. FASEB advances biological science through collaborative advocacy for research policies that promote scientific progress and education and lead to improvements in human health.

Article details: Incensole acetate, an incense component, elicits psychoactivity by activating TRPV3 channels in the brain. Arieh Moussaieff, Neta Rimmerman, Tatiana Bregman, Alex Straiker, Christian C. Felder, Shai Shoham, Yoel Kashman, Susan M. Huang, Hyosang Lee, Esther Shohami, Ken Mackie, Michael J. Caterina, J. Michael Walker, Ester Fride, and Raphael Mechoulam. Published online before print May 20, 2008 as doi: 10.1096/fj.07-101865. http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/abstract/fj.07-101865v1

Red wine ingredient resveratrol stops breast cancer growth – FASEB Journal

Red wine ingredient resveratrol stops breast cancer growth

New research in the FASEB Journal shows that resveratrol blocks the growth effects of estrogen by reducing the specific breast cancer receptors

Bethesda, MD—Cheers! A new research report appearing in the October 2011 issue of The FASEB Journal (https://www.fasebj.org) shows that resveratrol, the “healthy” ingredient in red wine, stops breast cancer cells from growing by blocking the growth effects of estrogen. This discovery, made by a team of American and Italian scientists, suggests for the first time that resveratrol is able to counteract the malignant progression since it inhibits the proliferation of hormone resistant breast cancer cells. This has important implications for the treatment of women with breast cancer whose tumors eventually develop resistance to hormonal therapy.

“Resveratrol is a potential pharmacological tool to be exploited when breast cancer become resistant to the hormonal therapy,” said Sebastiano Andò, a researcher involved in the work from the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Calabria in Italy.

To make this discovery, Andò and colleagues used several breast cancer cell lines expressing the estrogen receptor to test the effects of resveratrol. Researchers then treated the different cells with resveratrol and compared their growth with cells left untreated. They found an important reduction in cell growth in cells treated by resveratrol, while no changes were seen in untreated cells. Additional experiments revealed that this effect was related to a drastic reduction of estrogen receptor levels caused by resveratrol itself.

“These findings are exciting, but in no way does it mean that should people go out and start using red wine or resveratrol supplements as a treatment for breast cancer,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “What it does mean, however, is that scientists haven’t finished distilling the secrets of good health that have been hidden in natural products such as red wine.”

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Receive monthly highlights from The FASEB Journal by e-mail. Sign up at http://www.faseb.org/fjupdate.aspx. The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) is published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) and celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2011. Over the past quarter century, the journal has been recognized by the Special Libraries Association as one of the top 100 most influential biomedical journals of the past century and is the most cited biology journal worldwide according to the Institute for Scientific Information.

FASEB comprises 24 societies with more than 100,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. FASEB enhances the ability of scientists and engineers to improve—through their research—the health, well-being and productivity of all people. FASEB’s mission is to advance health and welfare by promoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences through service to our member societies and collaborative advocacy.

Details:  Francesca De Amicis, Francesca Giordano, Adele Vivacqua, Michele Pellegrino, Maria Luisa Panno, Donatella Tramontano, Suzanne A. W. Fuqua, and Sebastiano Andò.  Resveratrol, through NF-Y/p53/Sin3/HDAC1 complex phosphorylation, inhibits estrogen receptor α gene expression via p38MAPK/CK2 signaling in human breast cancer cells. FASEB J. 2011 25:3695-3707; doi:10.1096/fj.10-178871 ;  http://www.fasebj.org/content/25/10/3695.abstract