Turmeric extract suppresses fat tissue growth in rodent models

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Andrea Grossman
617-636-3728
Tufts University, Health Sciences

BOSTON (May 18, 2009) Curcumin, the major polyphenol found in turmeric, appears to reduce weight gain in mice and suppress the growth of fat tissue in mice and cell models. Researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University (USDA HNRCA) studied mice fed high fat diets supplemented with curcumin and cell cultures incubated with curcumin.

“Weight gain is the result of the growth and expansion of fat tissue, which cannot happen unless new blood vessels form, a process known as angiogenesis.” said senior author Mohsen Meydani, DVM, PhD, director of the Vascular Biology Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA. “Based on our data, curcumin appears to suppress angiogenic activity in the fat tissue of mice fed high fat diets.”

Meydani continued, “It is important to note, we don’t know whether these results can be replicated in humans because, to our knowledge, no studies have been done.”

Turmeric is known for providing flavor to curry. One of its components is curcumin, a type of phytochemical known as a polyphenol. Research findings suggest that phytochemicals, which are the chemicals found in plants, appear to help prevent disease. As the bioactive component of turmeric, curcumin is readily absorbed for use by the body.

Meydani and colleagues studied mice fed high fat diets for 12 weeks. The high fat diet of one group was supplemented with 500 mg of curcumin/ kg diet; the other group consumed no curcumin. Both groups ate the same amount of food, indicating curcumin did not affect appetite, but mice fed the curcumin supplemented diet did not gain as much weight as mice that were not fed curcumin.

“Curcumin appeared to be responsible for total lower body fat in the group that received supplementation,” said Meydani, who is also a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts. “In those mice, we observed a suppression of microvessel density in fat tissue, a sign of less blood vessel growth and thus less expansion of fat. We also found lower blood cholesterol levels and fat in the liver of those mice. In general, angiogenesis and an accumulation of lipids in fat cells contribute to fat tissue growth.”

Writing in the May 2009 issue of the Journal of Nutrition, the authors note similar results in cell cultures. Additionally, curcumin appeared to interfere with expression of two genes, which contributed to angiogenesis progression in both cell and rodent models.

“Again, based on this data, we have no way of telling whether curcumin could prevent fat tissue growth in humans.” Meydani said. “The mechanism or mechanisms by which curcumin appears to affect fat tissue must be investigated in a randomized, clinical trial involving humans.”

 

###

 

This study was funded by a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture. Asma Ejaz, a graduate student who worked on this project received a scholarship grant from the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan.

Ejaz A, Wu, D, Kwan P, and Meydani M. Journal of Nutrition. May 2009; 139 (5): 1042-1048. “Curcumin Inhibits Adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 Adipocytes and Angiogenesis and Obesity in C57/BL Mice. 919-925.”

About Tufts University School of Nutrition

The Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University is the only independent school of nutrition in the United States. The school’s eight centers, which focus on questions relating to famine, hunger, poverty, and communications, are renowned for the application of scientific research to national and international policy. For two decades, the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University has studied the relationship between good nutrition and good health in aging populations. Tufts research scientists work with federal agencies to establish the USDA Dietary Guidelines, the Dietary Reference Intakes, and other significant public policies.

If you are a member of the media interested in learning more about this topic, or speaking with a faculty member at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, or another Tufts health sciences researcher, please contact Andrea Grossman at 617-636-3728 or Christine Fennelly at 617-636-3707.

Curcumin curbs metastases

Munich, 10/12/2012

Powdered turmeric has been used for centuries to treat osteoarthritis and other illnesses. Its active ingredient, curcumin, inhibits inflammatory reactions. A new study now shows that it can also inhibit formation of metastases. Prostate cancer is one of the most prevalent malignancies in the Western world, and is often diagnosed only after metastatic tumors have formed in other organs. In three percent of cases, these metastases are lethal. A research team led by PD Dr. Beatrice Bachmeier at LMU Munich has been studying the mode of action of a natural product that inhibits the formation of metastases. The compound is found in turmeric, a plant that has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, and is a major ingredient of curry.

Bachmeier’s research centers on curcumin, the polyphenol responsible for the characteristic color of curry. Curcumin is well tolerated and is therefore, in principle, suitable both for prophylactic use (primary prevention) and also for the suppression of metastases in cases where an established tumor is already present (secondary prevention). In a previous study Bachmeier and her colleagues had demonstrated that the substance reduces statistically significantly the formation of lung metastases in an animal model of advanced breast cancer.

Mitigating metastasis

The new study was designed to investigate the efficacy of curcumin in the prevention of prostate cancer metastases, and to determine the agent’s mechanism of action. The researchers first examined the molecular processes that are abnormally regulated in prostate carcinoma cells. Breast and prostate cancers are often associated with latent or chronic inflammatory reactions, and in both cases, the tumor cells were found to produce pro-inflammatory immunomodulators including the cytokines CXCL1 und CXCL2.

The researchers went on to show that curcumin specifically decreases the expression of these two proteins, and in a mouse model, this effect correlated with a decline in the incidence of metastases. “Due to the action of curcumin, the tumor cells synthesize smaller amounts of cytokines that promote metastasis,” says Bachmeier. “As a consequence, the frequency of metastasis formation in the lungs is significantly reduced, in animals with breast cancer, as we showed previously, or carcinoma of the prostate, as demonstrated in our new study.”

Curcumin and chemoprevention

Bachmeier therefore believes that curcumin may be useful in the prevention of breast and prostate cancers – which are both linked to inflammation – and in reducing their metastatic potential. “This does not mean that the compound should be seen as a replacement for conventional therapies. However, it could play a positive role in primary prevention – before a full-blown tumor arises – or help to avert formation of metastases. In this context the fact that the substance is well tolerated is very important, because one can safely recommend it to individuals who have an increased tumor risk.”

A daily intake of up to 8g of curcumin is regarded as safe, and its anti-inflammatory properties have long been exploited in traditional oriental medicine. Men with benign hyperplasia of the prostate (BHP) are one possible target group for prophylaxis, as are women who have a family history of breast cancer. The agent might also be valuable as a supplement to certain cancer therapies. At all events, curcumin’s beneficial effects must first be confirmed in controlled clinical tests. Bachmeier is now planning such a trial in patients who suffer from therapy-resistant carcinoma of the prostate.

(Carcinogenesis online, 5 October 2012) bedo / suwe

Moving plane exchanges quantum keys with Earth

 

  • 16 September 2012 by Jacob Aron
  • For similar stories, visit the Quantum World Topic Guide

AN AEROPLANE has beamed quantum encryption keys to a station on the ground, paving the way for an ultra-secure global communications network.

Quantum key distribution (QKD) uses photons polarised in two different ways to encode the 0s and 1s of an encryption key. The laws of quantum mechanics ensure the transmission is secure, as any attempt to intercept the key disturbs the polarisation – a tip-off to the receiver that the key has been seen and should be discarded.

Quantum keys had previously been exchanged between two land-based stations. Now Sebastian Nauerth at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany, and colleagues have extended the feat to an aircraft, a stepping stone to QKD via satellite, which could allow secure messages to be transmitted around the world.

Flying at a height of 20 kilometres and a speed of nearly 300 km per hour, the challenge was to tightly align the infrared laser pulses transmitted by the aircraft with the receiving station on the ground. Any deviation would limit the number of photons reaching the target.

The researchers kept the laser on track using moving mirrors both in the aircraft and on the ground. Performing the experiment shortly after sunset avoided interference from sunlight. The transmission lasted for 10 minutes, amounting to a key long enough to encrypt 10 kilobytes of data. The team presented the work at the QCrypt conference in Singapore on 12 September.

“It is a very challenging experiment,” says John Rarity, an optical engineer at the University of Bristol, UK, who was not involved in the work. He adds that aligning the laser with a satellite will be even more difficult. In the meantime, he suggests that solar-powered planes, which can stay aloft for weeks at a time, could enable QKD to be used in military surveillance, for example.

Back on the ground, researchers at the European Space Agency’s Optical Ground Station in Spain’s Canary Islands broke the distance record for quantum teleportation, which uses quantum entanglement to make message transmission more secure (Nature, doi.org/jbs). They teleported quantum states over 143 km, breaking a record of 97 km reported earlier this year.