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Archive - Jan 18, 2017

Millions with Metabolic Syndrome May Need More Vitamin E; Conventional Blood Tests Found Inadequate

New research has shown that people with metabolic syndrome need significantly more vitamin E - which could be a serious public health concern, in light of the millions of people who have this condition that's often related to obesity. A study published online on January 11, 2017 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also made it clear that conventional tests to measure vitamin E levels in the blood may have limited accuracy compared to tests made in research laboratories, to the point that conventional tests can actually mask an underlying problem. The new article is titled “Metabolic Syndrome Increases Dietary alpha-Tocopherol Requirements As Assessed Using Urinary and Plasma Vitamin E Catabolites: A Double-Blind, Crossover Clinical Trial.” Vitamin E - one of the more difficult micronutrients to obtain by dietary means - is an antioxidant important for cell protection. It also affects gene expression, immune function, aids in repair of wounds and the damage of atherosclerosis, is important for vision and neurologic function, and largely prevents fat from going rancid. Nutrition surveys have estimated that 92 percent of men and 96 percent of women in the United States fail to get an adequate daily intake of vitamin E in their diet. It is found at high levels in almonds, wheat germ, various seeds and oils, and at much lower levels in some vegetables and salad greens, such as spinach and kale. This study was done by researchers in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University (OSU) and the Human Nutrition Program at The Ohio State University, as a double-blind, crossover clinical trial focusing on vitamin E levels in people with metabolic syndrome. It was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Dairy Council, and DSM Nutrition.

Scientists Discover Mechanism by Which Stress Hormone FGF21 Protects Pancreas from Digestive Enzymes; Finding May Lead to New Therapies for Pancreatitis, a Key Adverse Effect of Alcoholism

University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center researchers have uncovered the mechanism by which the stress hormone FGF21 keeps digestive enzymes from damaging the pancreas. The research, published online on January 12, 2017 in Cell Metabolism, points to the possibility of new therapies for pancreatitis, a potentially life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas. The article is titled “FGF21 Is an Exocrine Pancreas Secretagogue.” Pancreatitis can have many causes, including heavy, long-term alcohol drinking, gallstones, and certain hereditary conditions. Approximately 210,000 U.S. residents are hospitalized with acute pancreatitis annually, according to the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Dr. David Mangelsdorf (left in photo) and Dr. Steven Kliewer (right in photo) – who have run a joint laboratory at UT Southwestern since 2002 – earlier reported that the liver hormone FGF21, or fibroblast growth factor 21, acts via the brain’s reward pathway to reduce the desire for sugar and alcohol in mammals. In November 2016, they published a collaborative study with European researchers comparing the genomes of more than 105,000 light and heavy social drinkers. That investigation identified a gene variant for the brain’s FGF21 receptors that suppresses the desire to drink alcohol. The researchers then turned their attention from FGF21’s effects in the central nervous system to the digestive system, where another mystery awaited. “Previous studies had shown that FGF21 protected the pancreas, but it was unknown how or by what mechanism,” said Dr. Mangelsdorf, Chair of Pharmacology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.