Anti-Inflammatory Diet

All health care starts with diet. My recommendations for a healthy diet are here:
Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle.
There are over 190 articles on diet, inflammation and disease on this blog
(find topics using search [upper left] or index [lower right]), and
more articles by Prof. Ayers on Suite101 .

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Extreme Flu Remedies

Experimental Therapies for ARDS, Cytokine Storms

Do not do this at home. There are doctors and hospitals. Use them.

....But, if a doctor emailed me pleading for any ideas that I had to save a bunch of patients suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) from Tamiflu-resistant H1N1, my first response would be to suggest therapies designed for ARDS from other origins, e.g. burns, septicemia, etc.

Cytokine Storms Are Out of Control
When too much tissue is injured, the local, molecular communication that normally occurs just between cells, spills into the blood stream and becomes potentially lethal. That is what happens in anaphylactic shock. It is also what happens in cytokine storms, where inflammatory cytokines that are normally short-lived and processed locally to progress into recovery, erupt into the blood stream and impact distant organs.

Major disruption of body function by aggressive blood infections or burns over most of the body, will be lethal without heroic medical interventions. These are injuries beyond the evolved adaptations of mammals.  Until recently there were no survivors.

Influenza has been around for a long time. Humans, other mammals and birds get the flu and get over it. Many body cells become infected, antibodies specific to the virus are produced within about a week, the infected cells are killed, the virus is digested and life goes on.

People die from the flu, because an opportunistic pathogen causes a lethal secondary infection, or the body over-reacts and damages itself in attempts to attack its own infected cells. This is a cytokine storm.

Silence the Storms
Cytokine storms can be weathered by blocking the signaling system. Cytokines are just small proteins that are complementary in shape to corresponding protein receptors that penetrate through the surface membranes of cells throughout the body. Binding of cytokine to receptor changes the shape of the receptor and transmits a signal into the cytoplasm of the receptive cell. This turns on aggressive behavior of immune cells and triggers more inflammatory signaling in other cells. This causes fever, malaise, etc.

...But, I was the one the doctor is pleading with to save the people. And I know that there is more to cytokine signaling than just cytokines and receptors. There are also heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs). Cytokines are not supposed to be broadcast throughout the body. Cytokines function in the space between cells, the extracellular matrix. Polysaccharides attached to membrane proteins, HSPGs, are secreted at one end of the cells, sweep across the surface and are taken back up at the other end. Cytokines have heparan-binding domains and so they stick to the heparan and are swept along. Cytokines can move from one cell to another as the sweeping HSPGs of adjacent cells come in contact.

HSPGs Mediate Cytokine Signaling
The critical point here is that cytokines bind to their receptors with the heparan between -- the cytokine and receptor are like two halves of a bun and the hot dog is the heparan. In fact the heparan bridges two cytokine/receptor complexes to make an active, signaling pentamer.

Heparin Can Block Cytokine Signaling
Heparin is a fragment of heparan sulfate produced by enzymatic degradation of HSPG. Commercial heparin, used to block blood clotting, is obtained from the mast cells of lungs and intestines of hogs and cattle. The mast cells release heparin and histamine in response to parasites or pollen. Since heparin is a short version of heparan sulfate, it can block the formation of active cytokine/receptor complexes.

Heparin is used in a mist to treat the lungs of burn patients. It is also injected into some infertility patients to suppress inflammation that is inhibiting implantation and gestation. It is also effective in treatment of autoimmune inflammation in Crohn’s disease. I think it should be tested as a therapy for H1N1 cytokine storms. It may be useful in nebulizing mists and oral treatment of intestines.

Berberine Binds to HSPG
Berberine is a phytochemical from Barberry traditionally used in the treatment of intestinal infections and arthritis. It also binds to heparan sulfate to form fluorescent complexes visible in microscopy. Berberine-treated mast cells glow brightly. Heparan sulfate can also be detected in Alzheimer’s plaque, atherosclerotic plaque and prion complexes. Because berberine binds to heparan sulfate, it should also disrupt cytokine signaling. It has been used successfully in treatment of septicemic ARDS.

Curcumin Blocks NFkB
One of the most potent chemicals that blocks inflammatory signaling via the inflammatory transcription factor, NFkB, is curcumin. Curcumin is a major component of the spice turmeric. Oral curcumin can be enhanced by co-administration of black pepper, because the piperine in pepper inhibits intestinal inactivation.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Of course, I would also recommend vigorous implementation of an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle to support any medical treatment.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Inflammatory Protection from Swine Flu

Inflammation causes allergies, autoimmune and degenerative diseases, and is the foundation for cancer, but it does provide protection against infection.

One of the reasons that older people are less prone to infectious diseases, is that their immune systems have already been exposed to earlier versions of pathogens. Another reason for the relative good health of the parents of baby boomers, is that chronic inflammation increases with age and protection against pathogens is the adaptive advantage of inflammation.

As of now, the new swine flu pre-epidemic is very scary in Mexico City, but doesn’t pack much of a punch north of the border. Maybe it is too early to be optimistic, but it is tantalizing to speculate that the diet-based chronic inflammation that stuffs the coffins in the US, may be good for something besides stuffing the coffers of agribusiness.

One of the symptoms of high chronic inflammation is many years without a day of sick leave. It is hard for a pathogen to get a foothold when the immune system is already provoked by inflammation. Even food and harmless pollen is attacked with vigor and lots of sneezing.

Swine flu is attacking the young and healthy in Mexico. King Corn has already wiped out those targets in the US. Obesity fed by starch, vegetable oils and corn-fed meat, produces chronic inflammation and a potential resistance to swine flu. The US diet provides the inflammatory benefits of old age for the young.

This explains why I live in Idaho. Here it is easy to maintain an island of health in a sea of inflammation. Few visitors with infectious diseases can travel from healthy countries fast enough to transmit the diseases before they show symptoms. Everyone else who reads my advice, lowers their inflammation and lives longer, healthier lives free of chronic diseases, had better start washing their hands and wearing face masks.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Stem Cells Using HSPG Uptake of Recombinant Transcription Factors

Stem Cells from Adult Cells using Transcription Factor Genes
Stem cells have been produced from adult cells using transformation with genes for transcription factors. The problem with this approach was that the embryonic transcription factors had a tendency to promote cancer-like proliferation. What was needed was a temporary push toward embryonic gene expression by temporarily introducing a dose of embryonic transcription factors to dominate gene expression long enough to convert adult, differentiated cells into pluripotent stem cells.

Transcription Factors Synthesized by Recombinant Bacteria
The technical solution was tested and successful results were announced in a prior to publication paper in the journal Cell Stem Cell. Four transcription factors successfully used in prior experiments to induce stem cell transformation were synthesized using recombinant bacteria. The problem was getting the proteins into skin cells that were already growing in cell culture.

Protein Uptake via Triplets of Basic Amino Acids (Heparin-Binding Domains, NLS)
Transcription factors bind to DNA via basic amino acids and many of those basic amino acids are parts of the nuclear localization signals (NLS, quartet or two neighboring pairs of basic amino acids) that bind to importin and transport transcription factors from the cytoplasm to the nucleus.

HSPG Circulation Should Take in Transcription Factors
By inspection, I have demonstrated that proteins observed to be taken up by cells, without specific receptors, e.g. HIV-TAT, lactoferrin, heparanase, allergens, autoantigens, have triplets (or neighboring pairs) or basic amino acids, and this uptake is inhibited by heparin. One would expect that transcription factors would be naturally taken into cells by HSPG circulation. Just adding recombinant transcription factors to cultured skin cells should transform them into stem cells. I don’t believe that this was tested. Instead, more powerful heparin-binding domains were added.

Poly Arginine was used for Uptake of Transcription Factors
The investigators ensured a high efficiency of uptake by adding potent poly arginine sequences to the ends of the transcription factors and synthesized them in recombinant bacteria. The recombinant, arg-tailed transcription factors were taken up by the cultured skin cells and changed the pattern of gene expression in the skin cells. The cultured cells reverted to embryonic patterns of gene expression of pluripotent stem cells. The recombinant proteins were eventually metabolized, but the stem cells had been stably transformed.

Zhou, H. et al., Generation of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Using Recombinant Proteins, Cell Stem Cell (2009), ahead of publication 04.005

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Allergy, Asthma, Autoimmunity Start the Same Way

Inflammation is the current medical buzzword. Name the disease and inflammation is there.

Reproduction Requires Controlled Inflammation
Aspirin blocks many of the steps in triggering inflammation and thus, aspirin administration can be used to reveal a role of inflammation in many unexpected places. Aspirin is effective in blocking some forms of infertility, inhibiting miscarriages and ameliorating postpartum depression. So inflammation is a critical part of reproduction. But, also notice that depression is a symptom of chronic inflammation.

Cancer Requires Inflammation
High dose (IV) aspirin has been successfully used to treat cancer. Inflammation is required for cancer growth, because both use the same transcription factor, NFkB. The aberrant signaling of cancer cells would normally lead to programed cell death, apoptosis, but inflammation blocks apoptosis. Aspirin can in turn block NFkB and in the absence of inflammation, cancer cells die by apoptosis.

Inflammation is Self-Limiting
Aspirin also transforms the COX/lipoxidase system to produce anti-inflammatory prostaglandins/eicosinoids. Inflammation normally progresses into anti-inflammation. Blocking this progression leads to chronic inflammation and a shift from local to systemic inflammation with the rise of inflammatory interleukins in the blood stream.

Immune Response Requires Inflammation
The signal molecules (IL-1, IL-6, TNF) and transcription factor, NFkB, associated with inflammation were all initially identified in the development of lymphocytes. Hence, IL stands for interleukin, a hormone that triggers leukocyte (literally white blood cells or cells associated with the lymphatic immune system, i.e. lymphocytes) development. The nuclear factor, i.e. transcription factor, involved in expression of the large chain, kappa, of immunoglobulins in B cells, was called NFkB.

Genes Expressed by NFkB Cause Symptoms of Inflammation
About five dozen genes are under control of NFkB. Among these are COX-2, the enzyme that converts omega-6 arachidonic acid to inflammatory prostaglandins; iNOS, the enzyme that produces nitric oxide that dilates blood vessels to produce hot, red skin; and the inflammatory interleukins, IL-1, IL-6 and TNF, associated with autoimmune disease, fatigue and cachexia (wasting).

Autoimmunity and Allergy Start with Inflammation
Medical treatments focus on symptom abatement and ignore cause. What causes obesity, allergy or autoimmune disease? The answer appears to be chronic systemic inflammation plus exposure to unusual proteins. The unusual proteins are immunogenic, i.e. interact with the immune system to produce antibodies or reactive T-cell receptors, and are subsequently recognized as autoantigens or allergens, that are the targets for immune attack. Inspection of these autoantigens and allergens shows that they all have one thing in common, they bind to heparin via a strong heparin-binding protein domain that is typically a triplet of adjacent basic amino acids.

Heparin is a Short, Highly Sulfated Fragment of Heparan Sulfate
Commercial heparin is purified from the intestines of hogs and cattle. Heparin is released from mast cells (made fluorescent for microscopy using berberine) along with histamine and is released into the intestines to block pathogens from binding to the heparan sulfate that is part of the intestine surface. The heparin is anti-inflammatory and it contributes to minimizing the inflammatory response of the intestines to food.

Inflammation Reduces Heparan Sulfate Production
Pathogen-generated inflammation of the intestines reduces heparan sulfate production and increases immune response to food antigens. NFkB activation by inflammation turns off the production of some genes needed for heparan sulfate proteoglycan (HSPG) synthesis. Since HSPG is a major component of the basement membrane that holds tissues together, the reduction of HSPG results in protein loss (proteinuria) from kidneys, leaking of intestines, and disruption of the blood/brain barrier.

Reduction of HSPG Results in Immunological Presentation of Autoantigens/Allergens
Proteins are brought into cells by specific binding to protein receptors. In many cases, particularly involving signaling or growth factors, both the signal molecules and the receptors bind to heparin. In addition, there is a robust circulation of HSPG, which is secreted and internalized with a half-life of approximately six hours. The sweep of the HSPGs take heparin-binding proteins with them for internalization, e.g. HIV-TAT, heparanase, tissue transglutaminase. I think that this HSPG sweep under inflammatory conditions also internalizes basic autoantigens and allergens with strong heparin-binding domains. This internalization is the first step toward immunological presentation and the immune response to autoantigens and allergens.

Autoantigen/autoantibody/HSPG Complexes Kill Cells
Antibodies against self-antigens, autoantigens form antigen/antibody complexes that also bind to and cross-link HSPGs, because of the heparin-binding domains of the autoantigens. The large complexes may disrupt HSPG circulation and trigger apoptosis or abnormal physiology. There are many other examples of heparin-based complexes that are toxic, e.g. Alzheimer’s amyloid plaque, diabetic beta cell antibody complexes, celiac gluten/tRG antibody complexes, multiple sclerosis myelin antibody complexes, atherosclerotic plaque.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle Protects
Dietary and lifestyle adjustments that minimize inflammation, e.g. low starch, no HFCS, low vegetable oil (except olive) and supplements of vitamins D & C, fish oil (omega-3) and glucosamine, reduce the risk of allergies/asthma, degenerative diseases and cancers. Simple, high level supplements with fish oil reduce numerous mental disorders, e.g. depression, ADHD; infertility, pre-eclampsia and postpartum depression; allergies, asthma; arthritis, atherosclerosis; burn recovery, septicemia and head injury.

Reducing Inflammation is a Panacea for Modern Diseases
Most modern diseases have an inflammatory component, because modern diets are rich in inflammatory components, e.g. starch/sugar, corn/soy oil, HFCS, trans fats, and exercise is minimal. The medical industry has not successfully promoted healthy eating and exercise; and in fact has promoted the devastating replacement of saturated fats with inflammatory polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Meat production has moved away from grazing on omega-3-rich plant vegetation to omega-6-rich corn and soy. Replacement of the corn/soy based agricultural economy would have predictably immense beneficial impact in reducing inflammation-based degenerative autoimmune diseases and cancers.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cure for Cancer, Autoimmunity, Allergies, etc.

The immune system is powerful enough to provide protection from disease. Unfortunately, to act decisively the cells of the immune system have to be able to discriminate between self and non-self. Poor discrimination can lead to autoimmunity, cancer or infection. New approaches promise the precise use of interleukins, to reset self-recognition, eliminate a wide range of diseases and liberalize organ transplantation.

IL-2 is the Cytokine Responsible for Suppression of Autoimmunity -- Tolerance

Self/non-self discrimination is dependent on cellular communication and much of that communication takes place via small proteins called interleukins. First and foremost among the interleukins is interleukin-2 (IL-2). IL-2 is made by cells of the immune system, lymphocytes. Mice that are either defective in producing IL-2 or the lymphocyte receptor for IL-2, IL2R alpha, also called CD25, rapidly develop autoimmune diseases, such as type I diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease. Thus IL-2 is necessary for both effective immunological defenses against pathogens and suppression of immune attacks on self tissues, i.e. autoimmunity.

IL-2 Balance Achieved with Complex of IL-2 and Anti-IL-2 Antibodies

Direct injection of IL-2 has some impact on cancers, but is very difficult to control. This should be expected, because local environments should determine if the IL-2 will stimulate aggressive immunological attacks or development of regulatory T cells, Tregs, that produce tolerance.

More subtle control is achieved by using antibodies that bind to particular regions of the IL-2. The resulting IL-2/anti-IL-2 complexes can be used to stimulate immunological reactions to an antigen, which is useful for vaccines, or can stimulate tolerance for use in organ transplantation.

Future applications may be in the cure of a wide variety of autoimmune diseases, e.g. type I diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases, allergies, asthma; degenerative diseases, such as arthritis or athersclerosis, and cancers.

Webster KE, Walters S, Kohler RE, Mrkvan T, Boyman O, Surh CD, Grey ST, Sprent J. 2009. In vivo expansion of T reg cells with IL-2-mAb complexes: induction of resistance to EAE and long-term acceptance of islet allografts without immunosuppression. J Exp Med. Mar 30. [Epub ahead of print]