Let β-glucan train your brain

This 2021 rodent study investigated yeast cell wall β-glucan’s effects on the brain’s immune system:

“Innate immune memory can manifest in two different ways, [1] immune training and [2] immune tolerance, which means [1] an enhanced or [2] suppressed immune response towards a secondary challenge. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and β-glucan (BG) are two commonly used ligands to induce immune training and tolerance.

Microglia, the innate immune cells of the central nervous system, can adopt diverse phenotypes and functions in health and disease. In our previous study, we have shown that LPS preconditioning induces immune tolerance in microglia.

Compared to LPS, relatively little is known about effects of BG on microglia. In this study, we report for the first time that systemic administration of BG activates microglia in vivo, and that BG preconditioning induces immune training in microglia.

dectin-1

Our results show that BG activated microglia without inducing significant cytokine expression.

BG- and LPS-preconditioning both induced immune training in microglia two days after the first challenge. However, with an interval of 7 days between the first and second challenge, LPS-preconditioning induced immune tolerance in microglia where BG-induced immune training was no longer detected.”

https://jneuroinflammation.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12974-021-02103-4 “Systemic administration of β-glucan induces immune training in microglia”


One solution to “BG-induced immune training was no longer detected” after 7 days is to take β-glucan every day. I haven’t seen studies that found β-glucan induced immune tolerance, i.e. “suppressed immune response towards a secondary challenge.”

I take allergy medicine twice a day. Switched over to a different β-glucan vendor and dose per Year One of Changing to a youthful phenotype with broccoli sprouts.

I take 1 gram of Glucan 300 capsules without eating anything an hour before or an hour afterwards. I’ve only been doing it for a week, though, and haven’t been able to separate out β-glucan effects on seasonal allergies. I’ll try stopping allergy medicine when pollen stops coating my car.

PXL_20210405_103925702
Swarming a spring sea trout run. Ospreys outcompeted gulls for breakfast.

Our first 1000 days

This 2021 review subject was a measurable aspect of our early lives:

“The first 1000 days from conception are a sensitive period for human development programming. During this period, environmental exposures may result in long-lasting epigenetic imprints that contribute to future developmental trajectories.

The present review reports on effects of adverse and protective environmental conditions occurring on glucocorticoid receptor gene (NR3C1) regulation in humans. Thirty-four studies were included.

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is key in regulating mobilization of energy. It is involved in stress reactivity and regulation, and it supports development of behavioral, cognitive, and socio-emotional domains.

The NR3C1 gene encodes for specific glucocorticoid receptors (GRs) in the mammalian brain, and it is epigenetically regulated by environmental exposures.

When mixed stressful conditions were not differentiated for their effects on NR3C1 methylation, no significant results were obtained, which speaks in favor of specificity of epigenetic vestiges of different adverse conditions. Specific maternal behaviors and caregiving actions – such as breastfeeding, sensitive and contingent interactive behavior, and gentle touch – consistently correlated with decreased NR3C1 methylation.

If the neuroendocrine system of a developing fetus and infant is particularly sensitive to environmental stimulations, this model may provide the epigenetic basis to inform promotion of family-centered prevention, treatment, and supportive interventions for at-risk conditions. A more ambiguous picture emerged for later effects of NR3C1 methylation on developmental outcomes during infancy and childhood, suggesting that future research should favor epigenome-wide approaches to long-term epigenetic programming in humans.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0149763421001081 “Glucocorticoid receptor gene (NR3C1) methylation during the first thousand days: Environmental exposures and developmental outcomes” (not freely available). Thanks to Dr. Livio Provenci for providing a copy.


I respectfully disagree with recommendations for an EWAS approach during infancy and childhood. What happened to each of us wasn’t necessarily applicable to a group. Group statistics may make interesting research topics, but they won’t change anything for each individual.

Regarding treatment, our individual experiences and needs during our first 1000 days should be repeatedly sensed and felt in order to be therapeutic. Those memories are embedded in our needs because cognitive aspects of our brains weren’t developed then.

To become curative, we first sense and feel early needs and experiences. Later, we understand their contributions and continuations in our emotions, behavior, and thinking.

And then we can start to change who we were made into.

Eat broccoli sprouts for depression

This 2021 rodent study investigated sulforaphane effects on depression:

“Activation of Nrf2 by sulforaphane (SFN) showed fast-acting antidepressant-like effects in mice by:

  • Activating BDNF;
  • Inhibiting expression of its transcriptional repressors (HDAC2 [histone deacetylase 2, a negative regulator of neuroplasticity], mSin3A, and MeCP2); and
  • Revising abnormal synaptic transmission.

In a mouse model of chronic social defeat stress (CSDS), protein levels of Nrf2 and BDNF in the medial prefrontal cortex and hippocampus were lower than those of control and CSDS-resilient mice. In contrast, protein levels of BDNF transcriptional repressors in CSDS-susceptible mice were higher than those of control and CSDS-resilient mice.

These data suggest that Nrf2 activation increases expression of Bdnf and decreases expression of its transcriptional repressors, which result in fast-acting antidepressant-like actions. Furthermore, abnormalities in crosstalk between Nrf2 and BDNF may contribute to the resilience versus susceptibility of mice against CSDS.

Nrf2-induced BDNF transcription in a model of depression.

  • Stress inhibits Nrf2 expression, which inhibits BDNF transcriptional and leads to abnormal synaptic transmission, causing depression-like behaviors in mice.
  • SFN induces BDNF transcription by activating Nrf2 and correcting abnormal synaptic transmission, resulting in antidepressant-like effects.

In conclusion:

  1. Nrf2 regulates transcription of Bdnf by binding to its exon I promoter.
  2. Inhibition of Nrf2-induced Bdnf transcription may play a role in the pathophysiology of depression.
  3. Activation of Nrf2-induced Bdnf transcription promoted antidepressant-like effects.
  4. Alterations in crosstalk between Nrf2 and BDNF may contribute to resilience versus susceptibility after stress.”

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41398-021-01261-6 “Activation of BDNF by transcription factor Nrf2 contributes to antidepressant-like actions in rodents”


Treat your gut microbiota as one of your organs

Two 2021 reviews covered gut microbiota. The first was gut microbial origins of metabolites produced from our diets, and mutual effects:

“Gut microbiota has emerged as a virtual endocrine organ, producing multiple compounds that maintain homeostasis and influence function of the human body. Host diets regulate composition of gut microbiota and microbiota-derived metabolites, which causes a crosstalk between host and microbiome.

There are bacteria with different functions in the intestinal tract, and they perform their own duties. Some of them provide specialized support for other functional bacteria or intestinal cells.

Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are metabolites of dietary fibers metabolized by intestinal microorganisms. Acetate, propionate, and butyrate are the most abundant (≥95%) SCFAs. They are present in an approximate molar ratio of 3 : 1 : 1 in the colon.

95% of produced SCFAs are rapidly absorbed by colonocytes. SCFAs are not distributed evenly; they are decreased from proximal to distal colon.

Changing the distribution of intestinal flora and thus distribution of metabolites may have a great effect in treatment of diseases because there is a concentration threshold for acetate’s different impacts on the host. Butyrate has a particularly important role as the preferred energy source for the colonic epithelium, and a proposed role in providing protection against colon cancer and colitis.

There is a connection between acetate and butyrate distinctly, which suggests significance of this metabolite transformation for microbiota survival. The significance may even play an important role in disease development.

  • SCFAs can modulate progression of inflammatory diseases by inhibiting HDAC activity.
  • They decrease cytokines such as IL-6 and TNF-α.
  • Their inhibition of HDAC may work through modulating NF-κB activity via controlling DNA transcription.”

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/cjidmm/2021/6658674/ “Gut Microbiota-Derived Metabolites in the Development of Diseases”


A second paper provided more details about SCFAs:

“SCFAs not only have an essential role in intestinal health, but also enter systemic circulation as signaling molecules affecting host metabolism. We summarize effects of SCFAs on glucose and energy homeostasis, and mechanisms through which SCFAs regulate function of metabolically active organs.

Butyrate is the primary energy source for colonocytes, and propionate is a gluconeogenic substrate. After being absorbed by colonocytes, SCFAs are used as substrates in mitochondrial β-oxidation and the citric acid cycle to generate energy. SCFAs that are not metabolized in colonocytes are transported to the liver.

  • Uptake of propionate and butyrate in the liver is significant, whereas acetate uptake in the liver is negligible.
  • Only 40%, 10%, and 5% of microbial acetate, propionate, and butyrate, respectively, reach systemic circulation.
  • In the brain, acetate is used as an important energy source for astrocytes.

Butyrate-mediated inhibition of HDAC increases Nrf2 expression, which has been shown to lead to an increase of its downstream targets to protect against oxidative stress and inflammation. Deacetylase inhibition induced by butyrate also enhances mitochondrial activity.

SCFAs affect the gut-brain axis by regulating secretion of metabolic hormones, induction of intestinal gluconeogenesis (IGN), stimulation of vagal afferent neurons, and regulation of the central nervous system. The hunger-curbing effect of the portal glucose signal induced by IGN involves activation of afferents from the spinal cord and specific neurons in the parabrachial nucleus, rather than afferents from vagal nerves.

Clinical studies have indicated a causal role for SCFAs in metabolic health. A novel targeting method for colonic delivery of SCFAs should be developed to achieve more consistent and reliable dosing.

The gut-host signal axis may be more resistant to such intervention by microbial SCFAs, so this method should be tested for ≥3 months. In addition, due to inter-individual variability in microbiota and metabolism, factors that may directly affect host substrate and energy metabolism, such as diet and physical activity, should be standardized or at least assessed.”

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/cjidmm/2021/6632266/ “Modulation of Short-Chain Fatty Acids as Potential Therapy Method for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus”


Mid-life gut microbiota crisis

This 2019 rodent study investigated diet, stress, and behavioral relationships:

“Gut microbiome has emerged as being essential for brain health in ageing. We show that prebiotic supplementation with FOS-Inulin [a complex short- and long-chain prebiotic, oligofructose-enriched inulin] is capable of:

  • Dampening age-associated systemic inflammation; and
  • A profound yet differential alteration of gut microbiota composition in both young adult and middle-aged mice.

Middle-aged mice exhibited an increased influx of inflammatory monocytes into the brain. However, neuroinflammation at this stage was not significant enough to manifest in major cognitive impairments.

A much longer exposure to prebiotics might be needed to achieve significant effects, suggesting that supplementation may have to start earlier to be effectively preventative before alterations in the brain occur. This is particularly evident for behaviour.

Targeting gut microbiota, as we have done with a prebiotic, can affect the brain and subsequent behaviour through a variety of potential pathways including SCFAs [short-chain fatty acids], amino acids and immune pathways. All of these are interconnected. Future studies are needed to better deconvolve [figure out] such pathways in eliciting beneficial effects of inulin.

Modulatory effects of prebiotic supplementation on monocyte infiltration into the brain and accompanied regulation of age-related microglia activation highlight a potential pathway by which prebiotics can modulate peripheral immune response and alter neuroinflammation in ageing. Our data suggest a novel strategy for the amelioration of age-related neuroinflammatory pathologies and brain function.”

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41380-019-0425-1 “Mid-life microbiota crises: middle age is associated with pervasive neuroimmune alterations that are reversed by targeting the gut microbiome” (not freely available)


This study’s experiments subjected young and middle-aged mice to eight stress tests. I appreciated efforts to trace causes to behavioral effects, since behavior provided stronger evidence.

I’m in neither life stage investigated by this study. Still, per Reducing insoluble fiber, I’ll start taking inulin next week. See Increasing soluble fiber intake with inulin.

I came across this study through its citation in How will you feel?

Inauguration day

Gut microbiota and aging

This 2020 review explored the title subject:

“The human body contains 1013 human cells and 1014 commensal microbiota. Gut microbiota play vital roles in human development, physiology, immunity, and nutrition.

Human lifespan was thought to be determined by the combined influence of genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors including lifestyle-associated factors such as exercise or diet. The role of symbiotic microorganisms has been ignored.

Age-associated alterations in composition, diversity, and functional features of gut microbiota are closely correlated with an age-related decline in immune system functioning (immunosenescence) and low-grade chronic inflammation (inflammaging). Immunosenescence and inflammaging do not have a unidirectional relationship. They exist in a mutually maintained state where immunosenescence is induced by inflammaging and vice versa.

Immunosenescence changes result in both quantitative and qualitative modifications of specific cellular subpopulations such as T cells, macrophages and natural killer cells as opposed to a global deterioration of the immune system. Neutrophils and macrophages from aged hosts are less active with diminished phagocytosing capability.

Gut microbiota transform environmental signals and dietary molecules into signaling metabolites to communicate with different organs and tissues in the host, mediating inflammation. Gut microbiota modulations via dietary or probiotics are useful anti-inflammaging and immunosenescence interventions.

The presence of microbiomic clocks in the human body makes noninvasive, accurate lifespan prediction possible. Prior to occurrence of aging-related diseases [shown above], bidirectional interactions between the gut and extraenteric tissue will change.

Correction of accelerated aging-associated gut dysbiosis is beneficial, suggesting a link between aging and gut microbiota that provides a rationale for microbiota-targeted interventions against age-related diseases. However, it is still unclear whether gut microbiota alterations are the cause or consequence of aging, and when and how to modulate gut microbiota to have anti-aging effects remain to be determined.”

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408398.2020.1867054 “Gut microbiota and aging” (not freely available; thanks to Dr. Zongxin Ling for providing a copy)


1. The “Stable phase” predecessor to this review’s subject deserved its own paper:

“After initial exposure and critical transitional windows within 3 years after birth, it is generally agreed that human gut microbiota develops into the typical adult structure and composition that is relatively stable in adults.

gut microbiota by age phenotype

However, the Human Microbiome Project revealed that various factors such as food modernization, vaccines, antibiotics, and taking extreme hygiene measures will reduce human exposure to microbial symbionts and led to shrinkage of the core microbiome, while the reduction in microbiome biodiversity can compromise the human immune system and predispose individuals to several modern diseases.”

2. I looked for the ten germ-free references in the “How germ-free animals help elucidate the mechanisms” section of The gut microbiome: its role in brain health in this review, but didn’t find them cited. Likewise, the five germ-free references in this review weren’t cited in that paper. Good to see a variety of relevant research.

There were a few overlapping research groups with this review’s “Gut-brain axis aging” section, although it covered only AD and PD research.

3. Inflammaging is well-documented, but is chronic inflammation a condition of chronological age?

A twenty-something today who ate highly-processed food all their life could have gut microbiota roughly equivalent to their great-great grandparents’ at advanced ages. Except their ancestors’ conditions may have been byproducts of “an unintended consequence of both developmental programmes and maintenance programmes.

Would gut microbiota be a measure of such a twenty-something’s biological age? Do we wait until they’re 60, and explain their conditions by demographics? What could they do to reset themself back to a chronological-age-appropriate phenotype?


The future of your brain is in your gut right now

A 2020 paper by the author of Sulforaphane: Its “Coming of Age” as a Clinically Relevant Nutraceutical in the Prevention and Treatment of Chronic Disease:

“The gut and brain communicate bidirectionally via several pathways which include:

  1. Neural via the vagus nerve;
  2. Endocrine via the HPA axis;
  3. Neurotransmitters, some of which are synthesized by microbes;
  4. Immune via cytokines; and
  5. Metabolic via microbially generated short-chain fatty acids.

How does nature maintain the gut-microbiome-brain axis? Mechanisms to maintain homeostasis of intestinal epithelial cells and their underlying cells are a key consideration.

The symbiotic relationship that exists between microbiota and the human host is evident when considering nutrient requirements of each. The host provides food for microbes, which consume that food to produce metabolites necessary for health of the host.

Consider function of the human nervous system, not in isolation but in integration with the gastrointestinal ecosystem of the host, in expectation of a favorable impact on human health and behavior.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128205938000148 “Chapter 14 – The gut microbiome: its role in brain health” (not freely available)


Always more questions:

  • What did you put into your gut today?
  • What type of internal environment did it support?
  • What “favorable impact on human health and behavior” do you expect from today’s intake?
  • How will you feel?
  • Will you let evidence guide feeding your gut environment?

See Switch on your Nrf2 signaling pathway for an interview with the author.

How will you feel?

Consider this a partial repost of Moral Fiber:

“We are all self-reproducing bioreactors. We provide an environment for trillions of microbes, most of which cannot survive for long without the food, shelter and a place to breed that we provide.

They inhabit us so thoroughly that not a single tissue in our body is sterile. Our microbiome affects our development, character, mood and health, and we affect it via our diet, medications and mood states.

The microbiome:

  • Affects our thinking and our mood;
  • Influences how we develop;
  • Molds our personalities;
  • Our sociability;
  • Our responses to fear and pain;
  • Our proneness to brain disease; and
  • May be as or more important in these respects than our genetic makeup.

Dysbiosis has become prevalent due to removal of prebiotic fibers from today’s ultra-processed foods. I believe that dietary shift has created a generation of humans less able to sustain or receive love.

They suffer from reduced motivation and lower impulse control. They are more anxious, more depressed, more selfish, more polarized, and therefore more susceptible to the corrosive politics of identity.


Other recent blog posts by Dr. Paul Clayton and team include Skin in The Game and Kenosha Kids.

Image from Thomas Cole : The Consummation, The Course of the Empire (1836) Canvas Gallery Wrapped Giclee Wall Art Print (D4060)

Week 37 of Changing to a youthful phenotype with broccoli sprouts

1. Been wrong about a few things this past week:

A. I thought in Week 28 that extrapolating A rejuvenation therapy and sulforaphane results to humans would produce personal results by this week. An 8-day rat treatment period ≈ 258 human days, and 258 / 7 ≈ 37 weeks.

There are just too many unknowns to say why that didn’t happen. So I’ll patiently continue eating a clinically relevant 65.5 gram dose of microwaved broccoli sprouts twice every day.

PXL_20201015_105645362

The study’s lead researcher answered:

“Depends, it might take 37 weeks or more for some aspects of ‘youthening’ to become obvious. It might even take years for others.

Who really cares if you are growing younger every day?

For change at the epigenomic/cellular level to travel up the biological hierarchy from cells to organ systems seems to take time. But the process can be repeated indefinitely (so far as we know) so by the second rejuvenation you’re already starting at ‘young’. (That would be every eight to ten years I believe.)”

His framework is in An environmental signaling paradigm of aging.

B. I thought that adding 2% mustard seed powder to microwaved broccoli sprouts per Does sulforaphane reach the colon? would work. Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn’t, but my stomach and gut said that wasn’t for me.

C. I thought I could easily add Sprouting whole oats to my routine. I ran another trial Sprouting hulled oats using oat seeds from a different company and Degree of oat sprouting as a model.

2. Oat sprouts analysis paired studies were very informative, don’t you think? One study produced evidence over 18 germination-parameter combinations (hulled / dehulled seeds of two varieties, for 1-to-9 days, at 12-to-20°C).

Those researchers evaluated what mix of germination parameters would simultaneously maximize four parameters (β-glucan, free phenolic compounds, protease activity, and antioxidant capacity) while minimizing two (enzymes α-amylase and lipase). Then they followed with a study that characterized oat seeds sprouted under these optimal conditions.

I doubted PubMed’s “oat sprout” 20 search results for research 1977 to the present. Don’t know why they didn’t pick up both of these 2020 studies, but I’m sure that .gov obvious hindrances to obtaining relevant information like this won’t be fixed. What other search terms won’t return adequate PubMed results?

3. The blog post readers viewed this week that I made even better was Do delusions have therapeutic value? from May 2019. Sometimes I’ve done good posts describing why papers are poorly researched.

4. I’ve often changed my Week 4 recipe for an AGE-less Chicken Vegetable Soup dinner (half) then the next day for lunch. The biggest change brought about by 33 weeks of behavioral contagion is that I now care more about whether vegetables are available than whether or not they’re organic. Coincidentally, I’ve developed a Costco addiction that may require intervention.

  • 1/2 lemon
  • 4 Roma tomatoes
  • 4 large carrots
  • 6 stalks organic celery
  • 6 mushrooms
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 6 oz. organic chicken breast fillet
  • 1 yellow squash, alternated with 1 zucchini
  • 1 cup sauvignon blanc
  • 32 oz. “unsalted” chicken broth, which still contains 24% of the sodium RDA

Pour wine into a 6-quart Instant Pot; cut and strain squeezed lemon; cut chicken into 1/4″ cubes and add; start mixture on Sauté. Wash and cut celery and stir in. Wash and cut carrots and stir in.

When pot boils around 8 minutes, add chicken broth and stir. Wash mushrooms, slicing into spoon sizes.

Wash and slice yellow squash / zucchini. Crush and peel garlic, tear but don’t slice. Turn off pot when it boils again around 15 minutes.

Wait 2-3 minutes for boiling to subside, then add yellow squash / zucchini, mushrooms, garlic, whole tomatoes. Let set for 20 minutes; stir bottom-to-top 5 and 15 minutes after turning off, and again before serving.

AGE-less Chicken Vegetable Soup is tasty enough to not need seasoning.

Reverberations, harmonics, history

Catching up with Martin Armstrong from 2012:

“Corruption within the Roman Republic was certainly at its peak during the first century BC. There was a brewing debt crisis in Rome and the oligarchy was determined to keep power at any cost. Corruption was so widespread that interest rates doubled from 4% to 8% for the elections of 54 BC because there was so much bribery going on to gain votes.

Caesar was clearly a Popularis, a man of the people who stood against the corruption of the Republic. Like today, we have no real voting control over the fate of the nation. Those who are in charge of the political machine control the real political state.

Caesar knew who his enemies truly were. He clung to his belief that if the majority of the Senate were free of the Oligarchy of Cato and Cicero, they would surely see the light. To persuade them, Caesar wrote his seven books on his truly remarkable conquest of Gaul.

Cato and his Oligarchy were so intensely anti-Caesar that they were willing to do anything to anybody. But this was a moment in time where the corruption had simply gone too far.

By September 29th, 51 BC, Caesar ran out of civilized options. Crossing the Rubicon became the only option.


Janus was the symbol of a cyclical change, the departing of one era and the birth of another. His shrine consisted of two doorways that traditionally were left open in time of war and kept closed when Rome was at peace. Leaving the doors open in time of war symbolized the new era that was possible.

Property values were collapsing. Debts were excessive. Those who held mortgages refused to accept just the property back.

Caesar dealt with this major extraordinary situation in a truly astonishing manner, realizing that assets and money are in a union of opposing forces, yet bound together. Value of property is not a constant relationship for money itself is not like a ruler.

Money is more akin to a rubber band even when it may be gold or silver. Money is like everything else – subject to the whims of supply and demand.

The economy is a dynamic relationship between everything with no real constant. We are at a tremendous disadvantage because we have grown up thinking in a flat linear world that does not exist. We limit ourselves by thinking in money,

Caesar explained that he had to borrow to fund the war and it was unethical for him to cancel all debts since he himself would benefit. Generals come and go, but true economic reformers of the state to save the nation are rare indeed. Caesar paid for his economic reform with his life.

There can be no greater example of political corruption that required desperate reform than the calendar. Caesar replaced the typical lunar year and introduced his new calendar based on 365¼ solar days on January 1st, 45 BC.

Sulla [138 – 78 BC] was a highly original, gifted and skillful general, never losing a battle. His rival described Sulla as having the cunning of a fox and the courage of a lion – but that it was the former attribute that was by far the most dangerous. This mixture was later referred to by Machiavelli in his description of the ideal characteristics of a ruler.

Sulla was more interested in retaining institutes of government while eliminating people occupying them whereas Caesar was far more compelled to act to restore institutions and to spare people, even his more threatening enemies. These are not actions of a man interested in personal power, but a man interested in saving his country.

You live in an oligarchy no different today than what Caesar faced back then. One maxim always holds true; Absolute power, corrupts absolutely!”

It appears that only Julius Caeser ever understood

100-44 BC


A normal distribution

Clearing out the 2020 queue of interesting papers

I’ve partially read these 39 studies and reviews, but haven’t taken time to curate them.

Early Life

  1. Intergenerational Transmission of Cortical Sulcal Patterns from Mothers to their Children (not freely available)
  2. Differences in DNA Methylation Reprogramming Underlie the Sexual Dimorphism of Behavioral Disorder Caused by Prenatal Stress in Rats
  3. Maternal Diabetes Induces Immune Dysfunction in Autistic Offspring Through Oxidative Stress in Hematopoietic Stem Cells
  4. Maternal prenatal depression and epigenetic age deceleration: testing potentially confounding effects of prenatal stress and SSRI use
  5. Maternal trauma and fear history predict BDNF methylation and gene expression in newborns
  6. Adverse childhood experiences, posttraumatic stress, and FKBP5 methylation patterns in postpartum women and their newborn infants (not freely available)
  7. Maternal choline supplementation during the third trimester of pregnancy improves infant information processing speed: a randomized, double‐blind, controlled feeding study
  8. Preterm birth is associated with epigenetic programming of transgenerational hypertension in mice
  9. Epigenetic mechanisms activated by childhood adversity (not freely available)

Epigenetic clocks

  1. GrimAge outperforms other epigenetic clocks in the prediction of age-related clinical phenotypes and all-cause mortality (not freely available)
  2. Epigenetic age is a cell‐intrinsic property in transplanted human hematopoietic cells
  3. An epigenetic clock for human skeletal muscle
  4. Immune epigenetic age in pregnancy and 1 year after birth: Associations with weight change (not freely available)
  5. Vasomotor Symptoms and Accelerated Epigenetic Aging in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) (not freely available)
  6. Estimating breast tissue-specific DNA methylation age using next-generation sequencing data

Epigenetics

  1. The Intersection of Epigenetics and Metabolism in Trained Immunity (not freely available)
  2. Leptin regulates exon-specific transcription of the Bdnf gene via epigenetic modifications mediated by an AKT/p300 HAT cascade
  3. Transcriptional Regulation of Inflammasomes
  4. Adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells protect against CMS-induced depression-like behaviors in mice via regulating the Nrf2/HO-1 and TLR4/NF-κB signaling pathways
  5. Serotonin Modulates AhR Activation by Interfering with CYP1A1-Mediated Clearance of AhR Ligands
  6. Repeated stress exposure in mid-adolescence attenuates behavioral, noradrenergic, and epigenetic effects of trauma-like stress in early adult male rats
  7. Double-edged sword: The evolutionary consequences of the epigenetic silencing of transposable elements
  8. Blueprint of human thymopoiesis reveals molecular mechanisms of stage-specific TCR enhancer activation
  9. Statin Treatment-Induced Development of Type 2 Diabetes: From Clinical Evidence to Mechanistic Insights
  10. Rewiring of glucose metabolism defines trained immunity induced by oxidized low-density lipoprotein
  11. Chronic Mild Stress Modified Epigenetic Mechanisms Leading to Accelerated Senescence and Impaired Cognitive Performance in Mice
  12. FKBP5-associated miRNA signature as a putative biomarker for PTSD in recently traumatized individuals
  13. Metabolic and epigenetic regulation of T-cell exhaustion (not freely available)

Aging

  1. Molecular and cellular mechanisms of aging in hematopoietic stem cells and their niches
  2. Epigenetic regulation of bone remodeling by natural compounds
  3. Microglial Corpse Clearance: Lessons From Macrophages
  4. Plasma proteomic biomarker signature of age predicts health and life span
  5. Ancestral stress programs sex-specific biological aging trajectories and non-communicable disease risk

Broccoli sprouts

  1. Dietary Indole-3-Carbinol Alleviated Spleen Enlargement, Enhanced IgG Response in C3H/HeN Mice Infected with Citrobacter rodentium
  2. Effects of caffeic acid on epigenetics in the brain of rats with chronic unpredictable mild stress
  3. Effects of sulforaphane in the central nervous system
  4. Thiol antioxidant thioredoxin reductase: A prospective biochemical crossroads between anticancer and antiparasitic treatments of the modern era (not freely available)
  5. Quantification of dicarbonyl compounds in commonly consumed foods and drinks; presentation of a food composition database for dicarbonyls (not freely available)
  6. Sulforaphane Reverses the Amyloid-β Oligomers Induced Depressive-Like Behavior (not freely available)

Sulforaphane in the Goldilocks zone

This 2020 paper reviewed hormetic effects of a broccoli sprout compound:

“Sulforaphane (SFN) induces a broad spectrum of chemoprotective effects across multiple organs that are of importance to public health and clinical medicine. This chemoprotection is dominated by hormetic dose responses that are mediated by the Nrf2/ARE pathway and its complex regulatory interactions with other factors and pathways, such as p53 and NF-κB.

The stimulatory zone for in vitro studies proved to be consistently in the 1-10 μM range. Hormetic studies of SFN strongly targeted activation of Nrf2.

Capacity to activate Nrf2 diminishes with age, and may affect capacity of SFN to effectively enhance adaptive responses.

A 4-hour exposure induced a 24 hour Nrf2-mediated increase in enzymes that reduce free-radical damage in neurons and astrocytes. Repeated 4-hour treatment for four days affected an accumulation along with a persistent protection.

In the case of continuous exposure to SFN, such as taking a daily supplement, SFN treatment did not result in an accumulation of HMOX1 [heme oxygenase (decycling) 1 gene] mRNA or protein. This suggested that HMOX1 response may experience feedback regulation, avoiding possible harmful overproduction.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1043661820315917 “The phytoprotective agent sulforaphane prevents inflammatory degenerative diseases and age-related pathologies via Nrf2-mediated hormesis” (not freely available)


One coauthor has been on a crusade to persuade everybody of this paradigm. Hormesis’ hypothesis isn’t falsifiable in all circumstances, however.

Hormetic effects may be experimental considerations. But what’s the point of performing sulforaphane dose-response experiments in contexts that are physiologically unachievable with humans? Two examples:

  1. Autism biomarkers and sulforaphane:

    “There was no concentration-dependence in induction of any genes examined, with the higher (5 μM) concentration of SF even showing a slightly diminished effect for induction of AKR1C1 and NQO1. Although this concentration is achievable in vivo, more typical peak concentrations of SF (and its metabolites) in human plasma are 1-2 μM.”

  2. Human relevance of rodent sulforaphane studies:

    “Over two-thirds of the animal studies have used doses that exceed the highest (and bordering on intolerable) doses of sulforaphane used in humans. The greater than 4-log spread of doses used in mice appears to be driven by needs for effect reporting in publications rather than optimization of translational science.”

This paper cited many hormetic effects that were human-irrelevant without making a distinction. But it also had parts such as:

“The capacity for high concentrations of AITC [allyl isothiocyanate] to enhance genetic damage is not relevant since such high concentrations are not realistically achievable in normal human activities.

Humans ingest only the R-isomer of SFN via diet. Their dosing strategy adopted concentrations of R-SFN that were less than those employed to induce cytotoxic effects in cancer cells and that simulated its consumption as a dietary supplement.”


Landing eagle

Eat broccoli sprouts to pivot your internal environment’s signals

Two 2020 reviews covered some aspects of a broccoli sprouts primary action – NRF2 signaling pathway activation:

“Full understanding of the properties of drug candidates rely partly on the identification, validation, and use of biomarkers to optimize clinical applications. This review focuses on results from clinical trials with four agents known to target NRF2 signaling in preclinical studies, and evaluates the successes and limitations of biomarkers focused on:

  • Expression of NRF2 target genes [AKR1, GCL, GST, HMOX1, NQO1] and others [HDAC, HSP];
  • Inflammation [COX-2, CRP, IL-1β, IL-6, IP-10, MCP-1, MIG, NF-κB, TNF-α] and oxidative stress [8-OHdG, Cys/CySS, GSH/GSSG] biomarkers;
  • Carcinogen metabolism and adduct biomarkers in unavoidably exposed populations; and
  • Targeted and untargeted metabolomics [HDL, LDL, TG].

No biomarkers excel at defining pharmacodynamic actions in this setting.

SFN [sulforaphane] seems to affect multiple downstream pathways associated with anti-inflammatory actions. NRF2 signaling may be but one pivotal pathway.

SFN is generally considered to be the most potent natural product inducer of Nrf2 signaling. Studies in which these actions are diminished or abrogated in parallel experiments in Nrf2-disrupted mice provide the strongest lines of evidence for a key role of this transcription factor in its actions.

It is equally evident that other modes of action contribute to the molecular responses to SFN in animals and humans. Such polypharmacy may well contribute to the efficacy of the agent in disease prevention and mitigation, but obfuscates the value of specific pharmacodynamic biomarkers in the clinical development and evaluation of SFN.”

https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3921/9/8/716/htm “Current Landscape of NRF2 Biomarkers in Clinical Trials”


Why do researchers still not use epigenetic clocks in sulforaphane clinical trials? Forty mentions of disease in this review, but no consideration of aging?

This was another example of how researchers – even when stuck in a paradigm they know doesn’t sufficiently explain their area (“No biomarkers excel”) – don’t investigate other associated research areas. Why not?

Here’s what Part 2 of Rejuvenation therapy and sulforaphane had to say to those stuck on biomarkers:

“While clinical biomarkers have obvious advantages (being indicative of organ dysfunction or disease), they are neither sufficiently mechanistic nor proximal to fundamental mechanisms of aging to serve as indicators of them. It has long been recognized that epigenetic changes are one of several primary hallmarks of aging.

DNA methylation epigenetic clocks capture aspects of biological age.”


The second review Epigenetic Regulation of NRF2/KEAP1 by Phytochemicals also completely whiffed on epigenetic clocks. One mention of aging in this review, but it wasn’t of:

  • Citation 104 from Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics; nor of
  • Citation 108 from the March 31, 2020, Aging journal; nor of
  • Citation 131 “Dietary epigenetics in cancer and aging.”

But epigenetic clock and aging associations were certainly in this review’s scope. For example, Citation 119 said:

“Nrf2 transcriptional activity declines with age, leading to age-related GSH loss among other losses associated with Nrf2-activated genes. This effect has implications, too, for decline in vascular function with age. Some of the age-related decline in function can be restored with Nrf2 activation by SFN.”

Why would people bother with phytochemicals (buzzword “compounds produced by plants”) unless to either ameliorate symptoms or address causes?

“Epigenetic Regulation of NRF2/KEAP1 by Phytochemicals” doesn’t occur in just laboratory situations. It’s also part of daily life.

These reviewers were straight-forward with side effects for two of the first review’s four items:

“The best known NRF2 activator that has obtained clinical approval is dimethyl fumarate for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. However, it has several side effects, including allergic reactions and gastrointestinal disturbance. There are a few related agents in clinical trials, such as Bardoxolone and SFX-01, a synthetic derivative of sulforaphane, which also exhibit less than desirable outcomes.”


Treating psychopathological symptoms will somehow resolve causes?

This 2020 Swiss review subject was potential glutathione therapies for stress:

“We examine available data supporting a role for GSH levels and antioxidant function in the brain in relation to anxiety and stress-related psychopathologies. Several promising compounds could raise GSH levels in the brain by either increasing availability of its precursors or expression of GSH-regulating enzymes through activation of Nrf2.

GSH is the main cellular antioxidant found in all mammalian tissues. In the brain, GSH homeostasis has an additional level of complexity in that expression of GSH and GSH-related enzymes are not evenly distributed across all cell types, requiring coordination between neurons and astrocytes to neutralize oxidative insults.

Increased energy demand in situations of chronic stress leads to mitochondrial ROS overproduction, oxidative damage and exhaustion of GSH pools in the brain.

Several compounds can function as precursors of GSH by acting as cysteine (Cys) donors such as taurine or glutamate (Glu) donors such as glutamine (Gln). Other compounds stimulate synthesis and recycling of GSH through activation of the Nrf2 pathway including sulforaphane and melatonin. Compounds such as acetyl-L-carnitine can increase GSH levels.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0149763419311133 “Therapeutic potential of glutathione-enhancers in stress-related psychopathologies” (not freely available)


Many animal studies of “stress-related psychopathologies” were cited without noting applicability to humans. These reviewers instead had curious none-of-this-means-anything disclaimers like:

“Comparisons between studies investigating brain disorders of such different nature such as psychiatric disorders or neurodegenerative diseases, or even between brain or non-brain related disorders should be made with caution.”

Regardless, this paper had informative sections for my 27th week of eating broccoli sprouts every day.

1. I forgot to mention in Broccoli sprout synergies that I’ve taken 500 mg of trimethyl glycine (aka betaine) twice a day for over 15 years. Section 3.1.2 highlighted amino acid glycine:

“Endogenous synthesis is insufficient to meet metabolic demands for most mammals (including humans) and additional glycine must be obtained from diet. While most research has focused on increasing cysteine levels in the brain in order to drive GSH synthesis, glycine supplementation alone or in combination with cysteine-enhancing compounds are gaining attention for their ability to enhance GSH.”

2. Amino acid taurine dropped off my supplement regimen last year after taking 500 mg twice a day for years. It’s back on now after reading Section 3.1.3:

“Most studies that reported enhanced GSH in the brain following taurine treatment were performed under a chronic regimen and used in age-related disease models.

Such positive effects of taurine on GSH levels may be explained by the fact that cysteine is the essential precursor to both metabolites, whereby taurine supplementation may drive metabolism of cysteine towards GSH synthesis.”

3. A study in Upgrade your brain’s switchboard with broccoli sprouts was cited for its potential:

“Thalamic GSH values significantly correlated with blood GSH levels, suggesting that peripheral GSH levels may be a marker of brain GSH content. Studies point to the capacity of sulforaphane to function both as a prophylactic against stress-induced behavioral changes and as a positive modulator in healthy animals.”


Sunrise minus 5 minutes

Unraveling oxytocin – is it nature’s medicine?

This 2020 review attempted to consolidate thousands of research papers on oxytocin:

“Chemical properties of oxytocin make this molecule difficult to work with and to measure. Effects of oxytocin are context-dependent, sexually dimorphic, and altered by experience. Its relationship to a related hormone, vasopressin, have created challenges for its use as a therapeutic drug.

Widely used medical interventions i.e.:

  • Exogenous oxytocin, such as Pitocin given to facilitate labor;
  • Opioid medications that block the oxytocin system; or
  • Cesarean sections that alter exposure to endogenous oxytocin

have lasting consequences for the offspring and/or mother.

Such exposures hold the potential to have epigenetic effects on the oxytocin systems, including changes in DNA methylation. These changes in turn would have lasting effects on the expression of receptors for oxytocin, leaving individuals differentially able to respond to oxytocin and also possibly to the effects of vasopressin.

Regions with especially high levels of OXTR [oxytocin receptor gene] are:

  • Various parts of the amygdala;
  • Bed nucleus of the stria terminalis;
  • Nucleus accumbens;
  • Brainstem source nuclei for the autonomic nervous system;
  • Systems that regulate the HPA axis; as well as
  • Brainstem tissues involved in pain and social attention.

Oxytocin protects neural cells against hypoxic-ischemic conditions by:

  • Preserving mitochondrial function;
  • Reducing oxidative stress; and
  • Decreasing a chromatin protein that is released during inflammation

which can activate microglia through the receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE). RAGE acts as an oxytocin-binding protein facilitating the transport of oxytocin across the blood-brain barrier and through other tissues.

Directionality of this transport is 5–10 times higher from the blood to the brain, in comparison with brain to blood transport. Individual differences in RAGE could help to predict cellular access to oxytocin and might also facilitate access to oxytocin under conditions of stress or illness.

Oxytocin and vasopressin and their receptors are genetically variable, epigenetically regulated, and sensitive to stressors and diet across the lifespan. As one example, salt releases vasopressin and also oxytocin.

Nicotine is a potent regulator of vasopressin. Smoking, including prenatal exposure of a fetus, holds the potential to adjust this system with effects that likely differ between males and females and that may be transgenerational.

Relative concentrations of endogenous oxytocin and vasopressin in plasma were associated with:

These studies support the usefulness of measurements of both oxytocin and vasopressin but leave many empirical questions unresolved.

The vast majority of oxytocin in biosamples evades detection using conventional approaches to measurement.”

https://pharmrev.aspetjournals.org/content/pharmrev/72/4/829.full.pdf “Is Oxytocin Nature’s Medicine?”


I appreciated efforts to extract worthwhile oxytocin research from countless poorly performed studies, research that wasted resources, and research that actually detracted from science.

I was disappointed that at least one of the reviewers didn’t take this review as an opportunity to confess their previous wastes like three flimsy studies discussed in Using oxytocin receptor gene methylation to pursue an agenda.

Frank interpretations of one’s own study findings to acknowledge limitations is one way researchers can address items upfront that will be questioned anyway. Such analyses also indicate a goal to advance science.

Although these reviewers didn’t provide concrete answers to many questions, they highlighted promising research areas, such as:

  • Improved approaches to oxytocin measurements;
  • Prenatal epigenetic experience associations with oxytocin and OXTR; and
  • Possible transgenerational transmission of these prenatal epigenetic experiences.