‘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 insights into link between anti-cholesterol statin drugs and depression

2010 study posted for filing

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

Scientists are reporting a possible explanation for the symptoms of anxiety and depression that occur in some patients taking the popular statin family of anti-cholesterol drugs, and reported by some individuals on low-cholesterol diets. These symptoms could result from long-term, low levels of cholesterol in the brain, the report suggests. It appears in ACS’ weekly journal Biochemistry.

Amitabha Chattopadhyay and colleagues note in the study that statins work by blocking a key enzyme involved in the body’s production of cholesterol. Some studies link the drugs to an increased risk of anxiety and depression, but the reasons are unclear. The scientists previously showed that maintaining normal cholesterol levels is important for the function of cell receptors for serotonin, a brain hormone that influences mood and behavior. But the long-term effect of cholesterol depletion on these receptors, which can occur in patients taking anti-cholesterol drugs, is unknown.

The scientists turned to the statin medication mevastatin to find out. In lab tests using human serotonin receptors expressed in animal cells, they showed that long-term use of the drug caused significant changes in the structure and function of serotonin cell receptors. Adding cholesterol to cells treated with mevastatin restored them to normal. The results represent the first report describing the effect of long-term cholesterol depletion on this type of cell receptor and suggest that chronic, low cholesterol levels in the brain might trigger anxiety and depression, the scientists say.

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ARTICLE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE “Chronic Cholesterol Depletion using Statin Impairs the Function and Dynamics of Human Serotonin1A Receptors”

DOWNLOAD FULL TEXT ARTICLE http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/bi100276b

CONTACT: Amitabha Chattopadhyay, Ph.D. Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Hyderabad, India Phone: 91-40-2719-2578 Fax: 91-40-2716-0311 Email: amit@ccmb.res.in

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

Ingredient in tequila ( Agave ) plant may fight osteoporosis and other diseases: 50 percent increase in levels of a protein associated with the build-up of new bone tissue.

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Michael Bernstein
m_bernstein@acs.org
415-978-3504 (Meeting, March 21-25)
202-872-6042 (After March 25)
American Chemical Society

IMAGE:The agave plant, the source of tequila, also may supply a healthful food additive.Click here for more information.

SAN FRANCISCO, March 23, 2010 — The plant that gave the world tequila contains a substance that seems ideal for use in a new genre of processed foods — so-called “functional foods” — with health benefits over and above serving as a source of nutrients, scientists reported here today at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Foods spiked with “fructans” from the agave plant may help protect against osteoporosis by boosting the body’s absorption of calcium and could have other health benefits, they said.

“Fructans are considered functional food ingredients because they affect body processes in ways that result in better health and reduction in the risk of many diseases,” said Mercedes López, Ph.D., who delivered the report. She is with the National Polytechnic Institute, Guanajuato, Mexico. “Experimental studies suggest that fructans may be beneficial in diabetes, obesity, stimulating the immune system of the body, decreasing levels of disease-causing bacteria in the intestine, relieving constipation, and reducing the risk of colon cancer.”

Fructans are non-digestible carbohydrates. They consist of molecules of fructose — the sugar found in honey, grapes, and ripe fruits — linked together into chains. Rich natural sources include artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic and onions, and chicory. Fructans do not occur in tequila, however, because they change into alcohol when agave is used to make tequila, López said.

So-called “inulin-type” fructans from chicory find wide use in the United States and other countries in ice cream, breakfast cereals, baked goods, sauces, beverages, and other foods. Small fructans have a sweet taste, while those formed from longer chains of fructose have a neutral taste and give foods a smooth, pleasant texture. Scientific studies have suggested that fructans stimulate the growth of healthful bacteria in the large intestine in a way that increases the body’s absorption of minerals, including the calcium and magnesium important for bone growth.

In the new study, López and colleagues set out to determine what effects agave fructans actually have on bone growth. They tested the effects of agave fructans on laboratory mice, used as stand-ins for humans in such research. Mice fed agave fructans absorbed more calcium from food, excreted less calcium in their feces, and showed a 50 percent increase in levels of a protein associated with the build-up of new bone tissue.

“These results suggest that the supplementation of the standard diet with agave fructans prevented bone loss and improved bone formation, indicating the important role of agave fructans on the maintenance of healthy bone,” López said. “They can be used in many products for children and infants to help prevent various diseases, and can even be used in ice cream as a sugar substitute.”

López said her findings suggest that agave fructans could be used in all of the same foods as chicory fructans. One advantage: Agave grows abundantly in Mexico and other countries with climates that do not favor growth of chicory. In addition, the scientists cited hints from past research that agave fructans may have greater health benefits. Agave fructans, for instance, seem to stimulate production of greater amounts incretins than the inulin-type fructans from chicory. Incretins are a group of gastrointestinal hormones that increase in the amount of insulin released by the pancreas. That could be beneficial for individuals with diabetes or high blood sugar levels who are at risk of diabetes, López said. One incretin stimulated by agave fructans is a good satiety enhancer, which would make people feel full on less food.

“We still have a long way to go to determine for which health benefits agave fructans perform better than chicory fructans,” López said. “However, the early results are encouraging, and we working on it.”

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The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 161,000 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.

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

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.