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  • Open access
  • 142 Reads
Healthy diet rich in vegetables and chronic systemic inflammation in older adults

It is hypothesized that healthy diets (HD) rich in fruits and vegetables can modulate the inflammatory status in older adults. However, to determine the true impact of HD on inflammatory status objectively assessed physical activity (PA) behaviors need to be considered. The aim of the present study was to explore links between HD, fruit and vegetable intakes and biomarkers of systemic inflammation in older adults. In a sample of 216 (82 men, 134 women) community-dwelling older adults (65-70 yrs), dietary habits were assessed by food frequency questionnaire and a healthy diet score (HDS) was retrieved together with intakes of fruits and vegetables. PA behaviors were assessed using accelerometry. The following pro-inflammatory blood biomarkers were assessed: C-reactive-protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), IL-18 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF-a). Associations were determined using linear regression analysis with the following covariates: age, sex, education level, energy intake, adherence to PA guideline, daily sedentary time, medication use, and waist circumference. Our results showed that HDS was inversely related to level of IL18 (β = -0.04; p<0.05). However, this association was attenuated after adjusting the model with waist circumference. No other significant associations between HDS and other biomarkers were observed. Vegetable intake was inversely associated with level of IL6 (β = -0.19; p<0.05), which remained significant after further adjustment for waist circumference. No significant associations between vegetable intake and other inflammatory biomarkers were observed. In contrast, fruit intake was not associated with any inflammatory biomarker. In conclusion, our findings reveal beneficial associations between healthy diets rich in vegetables and biomarkers of systemic inflammation in older adults. Importantly, these associations remained evident regardless of adherence to PA guidelines and daily time spent sedentary, which highlights the plant-rich diet as an important lifestyle factor with potential to mitigate age-related systemic inflammation.

  • Open access
  • 48 Reads
Serum leptin level in patients with cystic fibrosis

Introduction: Along with the significant increase in the average life expectancy of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), there are still significant differences in the height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) of patients compared to healthy controls. The association between leptin and fat mass may be an additional factor in weight loss or poor weight gain in CF patients.

Aim: Our objective was to estimate serum leptin concentrations in CF patients aged 10-39 years as well as assess any correlations between leptin and clinical characteristics of CF.

Materials and methods: Leptin serum concentrations after an overnight fast were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in 38 CF patients and 16 controls. In all participants' height, weight, BMI, and forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) were estimated. Moreover, fasting serum C-reactive protein (CRP) concentrations were also analyzed.

Results: Fasting leptin levels in CF were significantly higher in patients with CF patients (13.9±6.9 vs. 6.5± 2.6 ng/mL, p<0.001) compared to controls. There were no differences in leptin concentration between female and male CF participants (15.7±7.8 vs. 12.2±5.6 ng/mL, p=0.13). Leptin was correlated with age (R=0.64, p<0.001), BMI (R=0.65, p<0.001), FEV1 (R=-0.49, p<0.01), and CRP (R=-0.73, p<0.001).

Conclusion: Increased serum leptin level was associated positively with age and nutritional status, as well as negatively with FEV1 and CRP in patients with CF. The results of our study suggest that reduced pulmonary function in CF may be related with elevated level of leptin, while weight loss may be associated with decreased level of leptin.

  • Open access
  • 44 Reads
A greater reduction in intrahepatic fat content after a lifestyle intervention is related to a better inflammatory and oxidative status

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a disease characterized by the excessive accumulation of lipids in the liver parenchyma. To date, there is no effective pharmacological treatment against NAFLD; however, lifestyle modifications, including physical activity and the adoption of healthy eating habits, are therapeutic approaches against this disease. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between the improvement of the intrahepatic fat content (IFC) in patients with NAFLD and metabolic syndrome and biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation after 6 months of lifestyle intervention which included a hypocaloric diet and the promotion of physical activity. Patients diagnosed with NAFLD (n=60 adults; 40-60 years old) living in the Balearic Islands, Spain were classified in tertiles attending the improvement of IFC measured by Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Pro/antioxidant and inflammatory biomarkers were determined in plasma before and after the lifestyle intervention. The greatest improvement in IFC is directly related to a better cardiorespiratory fitness determined with the Chester step test. Significant greater reductions in weight, body mass index, alanine aminotransferase and triglycerides were observed in the group with the greatest improvement in IFC compared to the one that improved the least after the intervention. No significant differences were detected in glucose, cholesterol and in aspartate aminotransferase. Similarly, the reduction in catalase plasma activity, irisin and cytokeratin 18 levels were significantly higher in the group with the highest degree of IFC reduction, whereas no differences were observed in superoxide dismutase activity and in malondialdehyde and protein carbonyl levels. A progressive decrease in reactive oxygen species production by peripheral blood mononuclear cells activated with lipopolysaccharide was observed after the lifestyle intervention. The present data shows that a greater reduction in IFC is related to an improvement in pro/antioxidant and pro-inflammatory status and a better cardiorespiratory fitness in NAFLD patients.

  • Open access
  • 88 Reads
Antioxidant supplementation hinders the role of exercise training as a natural activator of SIRT1

Exercise training (ET) contrasts oxidative stress by activating the deacetylase SIRT1, a stress-sensor working to increase, when necessary, the endogenous antioxidant system. Other SIRT1 activators include polyphenols and vitamins whose antioxidant properties are well-known. Antioxidant supplements are used to improve athletes’ wellness and performance. However, they could blunt or even block ET-related benefits.

Two groups of middle-distance runners taking or not antioxidant supplements were compared with each other and with sedentary subjects to evaluate ET effects on mRNA and activity of SIRT1 and oxidative stress markers, and to investigate whether an exogenous source of antioxidants could interfere with such effects.

Twenty-five middle distance runners (MDR) and 14 sedentary controls (CTR) were enrolled. MDR assuming antioxidant supplements (240 mg vitamin C and 15 mg vitamin E, together with 861 mg sodium, 555 mg chlorine, 381 mg potassium, 66 mg magnesium) were indicated as MDR-S (n.12), MDR-noS indicated those not taking supplements (n.13). SIRT1 mRNA and activity were measured in PBMCs by a fluorimetric assay and RT-PCR, respectively. Total oxidative status (TOS), total antioxidant capacity (TEAC), and oxidative stress index (TOS/TEAC) were determined in plasma.

MDR showed higher levels of SIRT1 mRNA and activity than controls without reaching a statistical significance. SIRT1 activity was higher (p=0.019) in MDR-noS (1909±626) compared with MDR-S (1276±474). Similarly, SIRT1 mRNA was higher (p=0.03) in MDR-noS (0,006±0,002) compared with MDR-S (0,003±0,0005).

Regarding TOS, MDR-S showed the highest, while MDR-noS had the lowest value. MDR showed higher TEAC levels than CTR (2866±581 vs 2082±560, p=0.001) as well as MDR-S (2919±551) and MDR-noS (2784±643) (MDR-S vs CTR, p=0.008 and MDR-noS vs CTR, p=0.02). No difference was found between MDR-S and MDR-noS. The CTR had the OSI highest value than the other groups (MDR vs CTR, p=0.003; MDR-noS vs CTR, p=0.03; MDR-S vs CTR, p=0.01).

Systemic antioxidant activity was higher in middle-distance runners taking or not antioxidant supplements compared with that measured in sedentary controls. An antioxidant supplementation seems to hinder the role of ET as a natural activator of SIRT1.

  • Open access
  • 109 Reads
Chemical features and biological effects of astaxanthin extracted from Haematococcus pluvialis Flotow: focus on gastrointestinal system

The main purpose of this review is to analyze published data concerning the antioxidant properties of a xanthophyll belonging to the group of carotenoids, named astaxanthin, produced by the microalga Haematococcus pluvialis in response to specific conditions of "environmental stress" and characterized by the typical deep red color.

The chemical structure of astaxanthin provides the molecule with marked antiradical properties. Due to its central conjugated double bonds and the presence of hydroxyl and keto groups, astaxanthin exerts a strong antioxidant action, and not the pro-oxidant one.

Natural astaxanthin has the ability to establish effective protection against oxidative stress, neutralizing free radicals in both the inner and outer layer of cell membranes, especially in mitochondria.

The most recent preclinical and clinical studies that have investigated the beneficial properties of this molecule towards the gastrointestinal tract were included. In particular, it was shown that astaxanthin favors gastrointestinal health, thanks to its ability to inhibit inflammation, providing protection against gastric ulcers, reducing Helicobacter pylori infection and decreasing clinical symptoms in patients with dyspepsia. The benefits of astaxanthin concern the whole gastrointestinal tract, from the oral mucosa to the gut, where this molecule helps support a healthy microbiome, promoting the growth of favorable gut bacteria. In addition, astaxanthin's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties support immune function, favoring effects promoting overall well-being.

Moreover, the great nutraceutical potentiality of astaxanthin is strictly related to its excellent bioavailability since it presents distinctive amphipathic features. This phytochemical administered at low dosages (typically between 4 and 20 mg/day) reaches, in vivo, concentrations near to those used in in vitro experiments. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that many of the in vitro experiments are really indicative of the potential effects of this substance also in vivo.

  • Open access
  • 94 Reads
Effects of a Plant-Based diet with whole eggs or egg substitute on parameters of metabolic syndrome, plasma choline and TMAO concentrations

Plant-based (PB) diets typically result in lowering of total and LDL cholesterol. Eggs could complement the PB diet by increasing HDL cholesterol. In this randomized controlled cross-over intervention, we recruited 29 participants (49.3 ± 8 y) with metabolic syndrome (MetS) who followed a PB diet for 13 wk. A registered dietitian advised all subjects on food selection and followed them through the whole intervention to ensure compliance. Participants underwent a 2-wk washout with no eggs or spinach (sources of dietary choline) for 2 wk and were randomly allocated to consume spinach (70g) with either 2 eggs (EGG) or the equivalent amount of egg substitute (SUB) for breakfast for 4 wk. After a 3-week washout, they were allocated to the alternate breakfast. We hypothesized that whole egg intake (EGG) would increase plasma choline and result in better improvement in parameters of metabolic syndrome. Twenty-four participants (13 women/11 men) finished the intervention. Plasma lipids, glucose, anthropometrics, liver enzymes, insulin, plasma choline and TMAO, were assessed at baseline and the end of each intervention. Compared to the SUB breakfast, we observed a significant decrease in body weight (P < 0.02) and a significant increase in HDL cholesterol (P < 0.025) following the EGG breakfast. There were no differences in plasma LDL, triglycerides, glucose, insulin, or blood pressure. Plasma choline was higher in both treatments (P < 0.01) compared to baseline (8.3±2.1 nmol/mL). However, choline values were higher in EGG (10.54 ± 2.8 nmol/L) compared to SUB (9.47 ± 2.7 mmol/L) P < 0.025. These results indicate that consuming a plant-based diet in combination with whole eggs results in increases in plasma choline and in HDL cholesterol, both of which are beneficial for individuals with MetS.

  • Open access
  • 36 Reads
The hippocampal and cortical neuroprotective effect of silicon reducing proinflammatory cytokines in a late-stage type 2 diabetes mellitus rat model

There is a close correlation between type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and cognitive impairment leading to dementia. Lately, the incidence of T2DM-related dementia has increased with population aging. Factors such as oxidative stress and inflammatory responses may contribute to the brain dysfunction in diabetes. The major inflammatory response found in diabetic rat brains occurs through the activation of nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB), and consequently, the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Silicon is a micronutrient with antidiabetic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties; however, its effects on the inflammatory responses in the brain of T2DM rats are unclear. This study aimed to evaluate the anti-inflammatory effect of silicon in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus of late-stage T2DM rats. A late-stage diabetic model was established by injection of a low-dose streptozotocin plus nicotinamide combined with following the experimental diets. Sixteen rats were divided into two groups. Diabetic group (D) was fed a saturated-fat hypercholesterolemic diet containing a control restructured meat matrix (RM). In the treatment group, silicon was included into RM as a functional ingredient (D-Si). The NF-kB, interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor- α (TNF-α) levels were measured by immunohistochemistry in cortex and hippocampus. Silicon down-regulated NF-κB activation, showing lower pNF-κB-labeled cells and lower immunoreactivity in both cortex and hippocampus (p<0.05). TNF-α levels decreased in both brain areas of D-Si rats (p<0.05); whereas IL-6 levels were only decreased in cortex (p>0.05). These results showed that silicon decreased the NF-κB pro-inflammatory pathway in cortex and hippocampus of late-stage T2DM rats. However, it would be interesting a further comprehension of underlying mechanisms. It can be concluded that silicon administration as a functional ingredient may offer a novel nutritional strategy in neuroprotection of T2DM-associated cognitive impairment.

  • Open access
  • 112 Reads
Green extraction of fucoxanthin with promising nutraceutical applications

Sargassum muticum is an invasive brown macroalga and several attempts have been made to control and eradicate this species with little success because its time consuming and costly. Thus, exploitation of this biomass for the extraction of bioactive compounds could be an interesting strategy to add value to food supplements and functional foods [1]. Among these compounds, fucoxanthin (Fx) has been gaining attention for its promising biological activities such as antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticancer, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-obesity, neuroprotective, anti-angiogenic and photoprotective properties [1]. Fucoxanthin is the most abundant and characteristic pigment in brown algae accounting for approximately 10% of the total carotenoids in nature [2,3]. The aim of this study was to optimize the extraction yield (grams extract per 100 grams of macroalgae dried weight, g E/100 g Ma dw) and Fx content (mg Fx/g E) from Sargassum muticum using ultrasound-assisted extraction (UAE). For this purpose, a response surface methodology (RSM) study with an experimental design of a five-level circumscribed central composite design (28 independent experiments) was applied to optimize three main UAE variables: ethanol concentration (S, 35-100%), time (t, 5-55 min) and power (P, 100-500 W). A second order polynomial model was used to fit the experimental data (obtained by triplicate). Based on the model prediction (R2=0.965), the optimal conditions that individually maximize extraction yield were 29.98 ± 1.03 g E/100 g Ma dw at a t value of 45.00 ± 3.35 min, S value of 37.50 ± 3.06% and P value of 409.46 ± 10.12 W. While for maximizing the Fx content (R2=0.8199) the response was 0.93 ± 0.10 mg Fx/g Ma dw at a t value of 45.00 ± 3.35 min, S value of 84.22 ± 4.59% and P value of 339.73 ± 9.22 W. The results here found for Fx content and the extraction yield with UAE conditions shows a promising approach for the recovery of bioactive compounds from S. muticum with potential application in nutraceutical and food industry sectors. This will also contribute to sustainably manage the expansion of S. muticum and the restoration of the ecosystem in coastal areas.


  1. Lourenço-lopes, C.; Garcia-oliveira, P.; Carpena, M.; Fraga-corral, M.; Jimenez-lopez, C.; Pereira, A.G. Scientific Approaches on Extraction , Purification and Stability for the Commercialization of Fucoxanthin Recovered from Brown Algae. 2020.
  2. Lockowandt, L.; Pinela, J.; Roriz, C.L.; Pereira, C.; Abreu, R.M.V.; Calhelha, R.C.; Alves, M.J.; Barros, L.; Bredol, M.; Ferreira, I.C.F.R. Chemical features and bioactivities of cornflower (Centaurea cyanus L.) capitula: The blue flowers and the unexplored non-edible part. Ind. Crops Prod. 2019, 128, 496–503.
  3. Pereira, A.G.; Otero, P.; Echave, J.; Carreira-Casais, A.; Chamorro, F.; Collazo, N.; Jaboui, A.; Lourenço-Lopes, C.; Simal-Gandara, J.; Prieto, M.A. Xanthophylls from the Sea: Algae as Source of Bioactive Carotenoids. Mar. Drugs 2021, 19, 188.

Acknowledgments: The research leading to these results was supported by MICINN supporting the Ramón y Cajal grant for M.A. Prieto (RYC-2017-22891), the María Zambrano grant for R. Perez-Gregorio (CO34991493-20220101ALE481), and the FPU grants for A. Carreira-Casais (FPU 16/06135) and A. Soria-Lopez (FPU2020/06140); by Xunta de Galicia for supporting the program EXCELENCIA-ED431F 2020/12 the post-doctoral grant of M. Fraga-Corral (ED481B-2019/096) and L. Cassani (ED481B-2021/152), Authors are grateful to Ibero-American Program on Science and Technology (CYTED—AQUA-CIBUS, P317RT0003), to the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement No 888003 UP4HEALTH Project (H2020-BBI-JTI-2019). The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and the Bio Based Industries Consortium. The project SYSTEMIC Knowledge hub on Nutrition and Food Security, has received funding from national research funding parties in Belgium (FWO), France (INRA), Germany (BLE), Italy (MIPAAF), Latvia (IZM), Norway (RCN), Portugal (FCT), and Spain (AEI) in a joint action of JPI HDHL, JPI-OCEANS and FACCE-JPI launched in 2019 under the ERA-NET ERA-HDHL (n° 696295).

  • Open access
  • 47 Reads
Carotenoids in Cucurbita fruits

Carotenoids are important isoprenoids including more than 700 yellow, orange and red pigments; they have been reported to be responsible for numerous benefits on human health. In fact, the need for reliable data on the carotenoid content from food has become increasingly important since the enhanced interest in the link between carotenoid intake and health. These compounds can act as free radical scavengers and antioxidants, while an inverse relationship exists between the dietary intake of carotenoid-rich foods and the incidence of certain cancers, UV-induced skin damage, coronary heart disease, cataracts and macular degeneration; besides, carotenoids with β-ring end groups are precursors for the production of retinoids in animal cells, hence they can prevent xerophthalmia or blindness. Fruits produced by Cucurbita genus plants (pumpkins and squashes) are cultivated in almost all areas with an appropriate climate in the world, some of them having a high nutritional value and hosting notable amounts of carotenoids; in many regions, these fruits are important dietary sources of provitamins A in human nutrition especially during winter season, being consumed either raw (in juices or salads) or processed. Carotenoids from Cucurbita fruits were the subject of many researches and the reported data were highly variable, since they depend on numerous factors (genotype, environmental conditions, fertilization, degree of maturation, etc.). The present work highlights the carotenoid content from six cultivars available on Transylvanian market, determined using high performance liquid chromatography analysis with diode-array detection; carotenoid identification was based on co-chromatography with authentic standards and by comparison of the visible absorption spectra with those of reference carotenoids, while the quantification of the carotenoids was achieved by the external standard method. Besides, total carotenoids were assessed by visible spectrophotometry. The major carotenoids were beta-carotene (in Cucurbita maxima varieties, up to 53 mg/kg) and lutein (in Cucurbita pepo varieties, up to 21 mg/ kg), these being followed by smaller amounts of neoxanthin, violaxanthin, lactucaxanthin, zeaxanthin, alpha-cryptoxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-carotene 5,6-epoxide, alpha-carotene, 9Z-beta-carotene and 15Z-beta-carotene; the maximum total carotenoid content was of 120 mg/ kg. The reported values can support future nutrition studies involving carotenoids from plant sources, as well as their use in different functional products.

  • Open access
  • 58 Reads
Vitamin D supplementation and photodynamic therapy .

Oxidative stress is the mechanism by which light radiation (e.g. ultraviolet, UV) has a damaging effect on cells. At the same time, regardless of the data on the negative impact of light radiation and oxidative stress on carcinogenesis, both of these factors are used in the treatment of e.g. skin cancer, breast cancer etc. Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a treatment using a combination of light-absorbing photosensitizers and dissolved oxygen to kill cancer. One specific limitation of photodynamic therapy is that the visible light used for photosensitizer excitation has a short tissue penetration depth of several millimeters. This limits the application of PDT to surface cancers in the absence of a technique to illuminate deeper tissue. Efforts to extend tissue depth to which PDTT can be applied have been attempted with use of up-conversion and persistent-luminescent nanoparticles that absorb near infrared light and emit visible light for photosensitizer excitation, yet an initial excitation with an external light source is still required. More recently, systems employing chemiluminescence as an excitation energy source designed to bypass the use of external light have been developed and investigated as potential agents that could overcome the problem of achieving photodynamic therapy in deep tissue. We wish to provide an overview of several systems that have been recently reported that employ both radiative and non-radiative chemiluminescent energy transfer for photosensitizer excitation that have been developed in the hope of achieving “dark” photodynamic therapy. This presentation reviews several of these important new developments in the design of therapeutic systems that utilize chemiluminescence. Thus, oxidative stress causes a condition in which cellular components, including DNA, proteins and lipids, are oxidized and damaged. The anti-tumor effects result from a combination of direct photodamage to tumor cells, destruction of the tumor vasculature, and activation of the immune response. In this review, we will present how Vitamin D affects oxidative stress. The effect of vitamin D administration on the markers of oxidative stress was observed in people with a high-fat diet. High fat diet, is a potent inducer of oxidative stress by altering oxygen metabolism. The topics discussed in this speech will also concern the relationship of Vitamin D with PDT-treated tissue (skin and breast) by enabling accumulation of photosynthetizers. We will present an overview of the published research to date and our own research.

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