Minds of their own

It’s the weekend, so it’s time for: Running errands? Watching sports? Other conditioned behavior?

Or maybe broadening our cognitive ability with Dr. Michael Levin’s follow-ups to his 2021 Basal cognition paper and 2020 Electroceuticals presentation with a 2022 paper and presentation starting around the 13:30 mark:

Michael Levin - Cell Intelligence in Physiological and Morphological Spaces

“A homeostatic feedback is usually thought of as a single variable such as temperature or pH. The set point has been found to be a large-scale geometry, a descriptor of a complex data structure.”


His 2022 paper Technological Approach to Mind Everywhere: An Experimentally-Grounded Framework for Understanding Diverse Bodies and Minds:

“It is proposed that the traditional problem-solving behavior we see in standard animals in 3D space is just a variant of evolutionarily more ancient capacity to solve problems in metabolic, physiological, transcriptional, and morphogenetic spaces (as one possible sequential timeline along which evolution pivoted some of the same strategies to solve problems in new spaces).

Developmental bioelectricity works alongside other modalities such as gene-regulatory networks, biomechanics, and biochemical systems. Developmental bioelectricity provides a bridge between the early problem-solving of body anatomy and the more recent complexity of behavioral sophistication via brains.

This unification of two disciplines suggests a number of hypotheses about the evolutionary path that pivoted morphogenetic control mechanisms into cognitive capacities of behavior, and sheds light on how Selves arise and expand.

While being very careful with powerful advances, it must also be kept in mind that existing balance was not achieved by optimizing happiness or any other quality commensurate with modern values. It is the result of dynamical systems properties shaped by meanderings of the evolutionary process and the harsh process of selection for survival capacity.”


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The goddess of rainbows

Two 2022 papers, starting with a review of irisin:

“This article is an overview of irisin generation, secretion, and tissue distribution. Its targeting of tissues or organs for prevention and treatment of chronic diseases is systematically summarized, with discussion of underlying molecular mechanisms.

Irisin is an exercise-induced myokine expressed as a bioactive peptide in multiple tissues and organs. Exercise and cold exposure are major inducers for its secretion.

Mechanistic studies confirm that irisin is closely correlated with lipid metabolism, insulin resistance, inflammation, ROS, endocrine, neurotrophic factors, cell regeneration and repairing, and central nervous system regulation. Irisin decreases with age, and is closely associated with a wide range of aging-related diseases.

A number of studies in elderly humans and animal models have shown that exercise can promote the body’s circulation and increase irisin levels in some tissues and organs. Resistance, aerobic, or combined exercise seem to play a positive role. However, exercise could not change serum irisin in some reported studies.

irisin human studies

There are large individual differences in exercise training in the elderly population. Since the half-life of irisin in the body is less than 1 h, it is necessary to pay attention to the time of blood sampling after a single exercise intervention. Some factors that impede detection of irisin levels in vivo include the half-life of irisin protein, sampling time, different tissues, and different health statuses before and after intervention.

It is worth noting that high-intensity exercise shows higher irisin levels even with the same energy expenditure during exercise. Precision studies of irisin in elderly subjects following exercise intervention need to be further clarified.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1568163722001222 “Irisin, An Exercise-induced Bioactive Peptide Beneficial for Health Promotion During Aging Process” (not freely available) Thanks to Dr. Ning Chen for providing a copy.


A second paper was a human study too recent to be cited by the first paper. I’ll highlight its irisin findings:

“We investigated the complex relationship among DNAm based biomarkers of aging, including DNAmFitAge, a variety of physiological functioning variables, blood serum measures including cholesterol, irisin level, and redox balance, and the microbiome on 303 healthy individuals aged between 33 and 88 years with a diverse level of physical fitness. Regular exercise was associated with younger biological age, better memory, and more protective blood serum levels.

Our research intends to show that regular physical exercise is related to microbiota and methylation differences which are both beneficial to aging and measurable. Our research provides the first investigation between microbiome derived metabolic pathways and DNAm based aging biomarkers.

Irisin levels decrease with age (0.23 average decrease for every 1 year older). We found age-related decreases in irisin levels were attenuated by exercise training. The link between irisin to GrimAge Acceleration and FitAge Acceleration is a novel observation.

HDL is positively associated with irisin. HDL and irisin have complex roles in physiology, and the positive relationship we observe between physical exercise and HDL and irisin align with protective effects seen between HDL and irisin with glucose homeostasis.

This work further supports the biological importance of irisin to the aging process. It is possible our research motivates interventions to boost irisin, like through physical exercise, as possible anti-aging therapies.”

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.07.22.22277842v1 “DNA methylation clock DNAmFitAge shows regular exercise is associated with slower aging and systemic adaptation


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Eat broccoli sprouts for your gut

Two 2022 papers, starting with a review of sulforaphane’s effects on intestinal inflammation:

“This review summarizes characteristics of intestinal inflammation, the anti-inflammatory mechanism of sulforaphane (SFN) and its various protective effects on intestinal inflammation, and possible future applications of SFN for promoting intestinal health.

SFN is an effective agonist of Nrf2, and it is also able to inhibit expression of inflammation-related genes by activating Nrf2. This kind of anti-inflammatory mechanism has already been confirmed in treatment of intestinal mucositis using SFN.

sulforaphane and gut inflammation

The main absorption site of SFN after oral administration is the small intestine, and its achievable dose for the hind intestine may be lower than the expected dose. Although absorbed SFN can reach the large intestine through intestinal blood and other transportation routes, its therapeutic effect on target tissues may not be as efficient as it would be when the expected dose is directly absorbed by hindgut cells.

Considering that there are several predisposing factors that lead to intestinal inflammation, more research on the effect of SFN on intestinal inflammation with different causes and characteristics should be carried out. Appropriate carriers should be selected according to the onset site and related physiological environment, and a scientific and effective intestinal targeted delivery system for SFN needs to be developed.”

https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2022/FO/D1FO03398K “The functional role of sulforaphane in intestinal inflammation: a review” (not freely available). Thanks to Professor Lei Zheng for providing a copy.


Reference 89 – Sulforaphane Normalizes Intestinal Flora and Enhances Gut Barrier in Mice with BBN-Induced Bladder Cancer (not freely available) – in the above graphic was cited for:

“The effect of SFN intervention on intestinal injury in mice with bladder cancer was investigated. It was found that SFN significantly reduced tissue damage in the colon and cecum of mice and normalized the imbalance in intestinal flora caused by BBN, which manifested as an increase in Bacteroides fragilis and Clostridium cluster 1, thus promoting SCFA production.

SFN administration upregulated expression of tight junction proteins including ZO-1, occludin, claudin-1 and glucagon-like peptide 2 (GLP2) to repair damage of mucosal epithelium of the colon and caecum, while reducing release of IL-6 and the secreted immunoglobulin A (SIgA). This study showed for the first time SFN’s alleviating effect on intestinal inflammation may be produced by regulating intestinal flora structure, suggesting that the protective effect of SFN on intestinal health could be multidirectional.”

That study’s 2022 follow-on rodent study also used oral sulforaphane doses:

“This study was undertaken to assess the potential efficacy of SFN in ameliorating dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced ulcerative colitis (UC) in mice and to elucidate underlying mechanisms.

Male C57BL/6 mice were treated with various doses of SFN (2.5, 5, 10, and 20 mg/kg body weight). In DSS colitis mice, the hallmarks of disease observed as shortened colon lengths, increased disease activity index scores and pathological damage, higher proinflammatory cytokines and decreased expression of tight junction proteins, were alleviated by SFN treatment.

  • 5, 10, and 20 mg/kg/day of SFN treatment significantly ameliorated inflammatory damage in mice colon tissue when compared to the colitis group.
  • 5, 10, and 20 mg/kg/day of SFN remarkably mitigated morphological alterations and protected colonic tissue integrity.
  • Nrf2 expression was increased significantly by 5, 10, and 20 mg/kg/day of SFN treatment.
  • SFN partially restored perturbed gut microbiota composition, and increased production of volatile fatty acids (especially caproic acid) induced by DSS administration.
  • The contents of butyric acid, iso-butyric acid, valeric acid, and iso-valeric acid were all decreased in DSS-induced colitis mice and in 2.5 mg/kg/day of the SFN treatment group, whereas this decreased tendency was reversed by 10 and 20 mg/kg/day of SFN.

A proposed mechanism by which SFN protects against colitis:

fnut-09-893344-g009

Nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2), Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3 (STAT3), and Phase II enzyme UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) were involved in the protective effect of SFN against DSS-induced colitis.

Nrf2 activation followed by STAT3 signaling pathway play a pivotal role in the protective effect of SFN on colitis. SFN can be considered a potential candidate in the treatment of IBD.”

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2022.893344/full “The Protective Effect of Sulforaphane on Dextran Sulfate Sodium-Induced Colitis Depends on Gut Microbial and Nrf2-Related Mechanism”


A human equivalent dose of the second paper’s oral dose of 20 mg sulforaphane / kg body weight is (.081 x 20 mg) x 70 kg = 113 mg. Per Estimating daily consumption of broccoli sprout compounds, I ate about half that every day by microwaving 3-day-old broccoli sprouts through Week 56, when I cut back to about 35 mg a day. I dialed that back in Week 87 to about 17 mg a day (100 μmol), which is used in a plethora of studies.

I’ve never had ulcerative colitis or inflammatory bowel disease. If I would be diagnosed with either, it would take about five minutes to get back to this study’s equivalent of 10 mg / kg body weight with broccoli seeds and sprouts.

Doubling that to 20 mg may involve taking supplements, though. Haven’t checked for commercial availability lately, but I’ve read a dozen or so studies on encapsulating sulforaphane so that it could reach the colon.

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Selecting broccoli varieties

This 2022 study evaluated 14 broccoli varieties grown in the same conditions for their floret compounds:

“Glucosinolate (GSL) profile and content in 11 inbred broccoli lines and three commercial cultivars were analyzed. Hydrolysate content, myrosinase activity, and nitrile formation rate were also determined.

Sulforaphane – an isothiocyanate (ITC) hydrolysate of glucoraphanin – content showed relatively higher value in the following order: 5404 > 5410 > 5407 > 5411, although glucoraphanin content was lower in those lines:

1-s2.0-S0304423822001108-gr3_lrg

No significant relationship was found between myrosinase activity and total hydrolysate content, except in line 5310, which had the lowest myrosinase activity and the lowest total hydrolysate content. There was no significant correlation between myrosinase activities and sulforaphane.

We found a clear difference in selecting functional broccoli by considering only the GSL content or hydrolysates.

  • Even if total GSL content and individual GSL content were high, ITC content could not be produced at a high level.
  • When GSL content is high, if nitrile formation rate was also high, more nitrile than ITC would be produced.

Low nitrile formation rate and higher hydrolysate content should be considered when selecting functional broccoli lines with high GSL content.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304423822001108 “Selection of broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) on composition and content of glucosinolates and hydrolysates”


As 3-day-old broccoli sprouts have the optimal yields, Lab analyses of broccoli sprout compounds, Tailoring measurements for broccoli sprouts, and this study found, there weren’t many potential health benefits based solely on broccoli varieties’ glucoraphanin contents. But genotypes had a greater effect than did environmental influences, and seed / sprout / stalk / floret beneficial contents differed.

There are opportunities for vendors to showcase healthier broccoli products. Growing, harvesting, and storage conditions will make that expensive to test and certify, though.

As A follow-on study to 3-day-old broccoli sprouts have the optimal yields, Enhancing sulforaphane content, and Microwave broccoli to increase sulforaphane levels showed, there are ways to improve myrosinase activity and isothiocyanate yield. I do these easy actions every day while growing 3-day-old sprouts from unknown broccoli varieties. Waiting for evidence to compel changing that.


Strange birds

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Sulforaphane vs. too much oxygen

This 2021 rodent study investigated perinatal effects of hyperoxia and sulforaphane:

“We demonstrated that early-life oxidant-induced acute lung injury had significant consequences later in life on NRF2-dependent respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) susceptibility in mice. We also determined that increased antioxidant conditions in utero potentially contribute to a decreased risk of postnatal airway disease as we found that prenatal antioxidant sulforaphane (SFN) protected developing lungs from bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD)-like oxidative pathogenesis in mice.

Unexpectedly, our results indicated that prenatal SFN-mediated postnatal protection against BPD-like phenotypes are not NRF2-dependent. Prenatal SFN markedly improved hyperoxia-caused severe BPD-like lung injury parameters in Nrf2−/− pups while we observed relatively marginal protection by in utero SFN in hyperoxia-resistant Nrf2+/+ pups.

SFN is a strong NRF2 and ARE gene inducer for cytoprotection by NRF2 stabilization. However, SFN also acts through other mechanisms, including NF-κB inhibition, MAPK activation, and histone deacetylase inhibition for anti-inflammation, chemoprevention, apoptosis, and autophagy.

Our study provided new insights into infant oxidant lung injury severity influence on persistence of pulmonary morbidity and therapeutic intervention for NRF2 agonists. Our results also provided justification for further studies on feto–placental barrier crossing of SFN metabolites and SFN-triggered molecular and epigenetic aspects of maternal cues for barrier and fetal lung signaling.”

https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3921/10/12/1874/htm “Murine Neonatal Oxidant Lung Injury: NRF2-Dependent Predisposition to Adulthood Respiratory Viral Infection and Protection by Maternal Antioxidant”


This study’s oral human-equivalent dose for treatment dams was 9 mg sulforaphane (1.67 mg x .081 x 70 kg) every other day during the last half of pregnancy. A small dose per How much sulforaphane is suitable for healthy people?

“The daily SFN dose found to achieve beneficial outcomes in most of the available clinical trials is around 20-40 mg.”

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Eat broccoli sprouts to prevent radiation damage

This 2021 rodent study investigated effects of sulforaphane on skin damage from irradiation:

“Radiotherapy is currently the main treatment for various cancers. We observed the protective effect of sulforaphane (SFN) on radiation-induced skin injury (RISI), including oxidative stress and inflammatory response indexes, and Nrf2 expression with its downstream antioxidant genes:

  • SFN prevented DNA damage caused by radiation.
  • SFN prevented and treated radiation-induced skin inflammation.
  • SFN prevented radiation-induced oxidative stress in skin.
  • Activation of Nrf2 and expressions of its downstream genes in skin induced by SFN.

Nrf2 downstream antioxidant genes induced by SFN

Mice were randomly assigned to one of four groups (n = 8), including control group (CON), SFN group, irradiation (IR) group, and IR plus SFN (IR/SFN) group (* p < 0.05 vs. CON; & p < 0.05 vs. IR).

Our most innovative discovery was that SFN provided skin protection from IR. At present, there are a few drugs to treat RISI in clinical patients, but the effect is not very ideal, or some may cause certain side effects.

SFN extracted from natural broccoli has no toxicity and is easily accepted for usage in clinic. According to our findings, SFN will provide a new strategy for clinical treatment and prevention of RISI in the future.”

https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3921/10/11/1850/htm “Sulforaphane-Mediated Nrf2 Activation Prevents Radiation-Induced Skin Injury through Inhibiting the Oxidative-Stress-Activated DNA Damage and NLRP3 Inflammasome”


This study’s findings probably also apply to less-severe skin damage caused by sun exposure.

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Epigenetic clocks so far in 2021

2021’s busiest researcher took time out this month to update progress on epigenetic clocks:

Hallmarks of aging aren’t all associated with epigenetic aging.

epigenetic aging vs. hallmarks of aging

Interventions that increase cellular lifespan aren’t all associated with epigenetic aging.

epigenetic aging vs. cellular lifespan

Many of his authored or coauthored 2021 papers developed human / mammalian species relative-age epigenetic clocks.

epigenetic clock mammalian maximum lifespan

Relative-age epigenetic clocks better predict human results from animal testing.

pan-mammalian epigenetic clock


Previously curated papers that were mentioned or relevant included:

Stay out of the hospital with Vitamin K

This 2021 study investigated Vitamins K1 and K2 associations with hospitalization for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD):

“In this prospective cohort study, both dietary vitamin K1 intake and vitamin K2 intake were inversely related to ASCVD hospitalization risk, and very low vitamin K1 was associated with a higher risk of ASCVD hospitalizations. Given very different food sources, these data support an independent protective effect for both subtypes of vitamin K.

u-shape

Relatively higher vitamin K2 intake in our cohort permitted discovery of a nonlinear, more U‐shaped association between vitamin K2 intake and ASCVD risk, which, to the best of our knowledge, has not previously been described. This may reflect a competing increase in ASCVD risk associated with overconsumption of vitamin K2‐rich foods (ie, cheese, eggs, butter).

Our study comes with some limitations common to nutritional epidemiology, and has significant strengths:

  • A large sample size with up to 23 years of follow‐up, allowing for accumulation of a high number of events;
  • Availability of important participant characteristics, enabling appropriate methods to be employed to reduce residual confounding; and
  • Minimal loss to follow‐up (<0.3%).”

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/JAHA.120.020551 “Vitamin K Intake and Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease in the Danish Diet Cancer and Health Study”


Daily broccoli / red cabbage / mustard sprouts for Vitamin K1, and a supplement for Vitamin K2 is what I do. Expect more than staying out of hospitals, but don’t know whether previous damage can be repaired.

Looking forward

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Gut microbiota strains

Three human studies investigated strains within microbiota species. The first from 2021 had obese child subjects:

“Dietary intervention is effective in human health promotion through modulation of gut microbiota. Diet can cause single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to occur in gut microbiota, and some of these variations may lead to functional changes in human health.

Compared with normal diet, the WTP diet provided large quantities of whole-grain mix that was rich in starch, soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, protein, and amino acids, but contained a small amount of fat. When this excess and/or indigestible nutrition reached the colon, it brought environmental pressures to microbiota that stayed there.

This pressure could facilitate utilization of indigestible nutrition by causing microbial SNPs. Metabolic efficiencies of indigestible nutrition substrates would be enhanced to adapt to the shifted environment better.

Although abundance of Bifidobacterium increased significantly by the intervention and became dominant strains responsible for nutrition metabolism, they had less BiasSNPs between the pre- and post-intervention group in comparison with Faecalibacterium. Finding F. prausnitzii as important functional strains influenced by intervention highlights the superiority of applying SNP analysis in studies of gut microbiota.

Though F. prausnitzii were well known for their biodiversity, we could not find functional reports about these SNPs. Future efforts are needed to verify/discern specific effects of these SNPs on encoded protein activity, their role on metabolism under high-fiber dietary intervention, and their potential beneficial or detrimental influences on host health.”

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2021.683714/full “Gut Microbial SNPs Induced by High-Fiber Diet Dominate Nutrition Metabolism and Environmental Adaption of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii in Obese Children”


A second 2021 human study investigated strain diversity in liver cirrhosis and Crohn’s disease:

“We constructed a computational framework to study strain heterogeneity in the gut microbiome of patients with liver cirrhosis (LC). Only Faecalibacterium prausnitzii showed different single-nucleotide polymorphism patterns between LC and healthy control (HC) groups.

Strain diversity analysis discovered that although most F. prausnitzii genomes are more deficient in LC group than in HC group at the strain level, a subgroup of 19 F. prausnitzii strains showed no sensitivity to LC, which is inconsistent with the species-level result.

More experiments need to be conducted so as to confirm the hypothesis of physiological differences among subgroups of F. prausnitzii strains. Our results suggest that strain heterogeneity should receive more attention.

With rapid development of sequencing technologies and experimental approaches, an increasing number of metagenomic studies will involve strain-level analysis. Such analysis of human metagenomes can help researchers develop more reliable disease diagnoses and treatment methods from a microbiological perspective.”

https://journals.asm.org/doi/10.1128/mSystems.00775-21 “Comprehensive Strain-Level Analysis of the Gut Microbe Faecalibacterium prausnitzii in Patients with Liver Cirrhosis”


A 2018 study investigated dietary fibers’ effects on Type 2 diabetics:

“In this study, we identified a group of acetate- and butyrate-producing bacterial strains that were selectively promoted by increased availability of diverse fermentable carbohydrates in the form of dietary fibers. These positive responders are likely key players for maintaining the mutualistic relationship between gut microbiota and the human host. Promoting this active group of SCFA producers not only enhanced a beneficial function but also maintained a gut environment that keeps detrimental bacteria at bay.

Only a small number of bacteria with genetic capacity for producing SCFAs were able to take advantage of this new resource and become dominant positive responders. The response, however, was strain specific: only one of the six strains of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii was promoted.

positive responders

The 15 positive responders are from three different phyla, but they act as a guild to augment deficient SCFA production from the gut ecosystem by responding to increased fermentable carbohydrate availability in similar ways. When they are considered as a functional group, the abundance and evenness of this guild of SCFA producers correlate with host clinical outcomes.”

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6380/1151.full “Gut bacteria selectively promoted by dietary fibers alleviate type 2 diabetes”


These studies favored a prebiotic approach to make gut microbiota happy and reciprocal in human health. The second study investigated 135 known strains of F. prausnitzii, and the first study found beneficial F. prausnitzii strains not yet covered in genomic databases.

I found the first two studies by them citing the third. The third study was cited in Gut microbiota guilds.

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Resistant starch therapy

This 2021 review subject was interactions among resistant starches and gut microbiota:

“Starch that reaches the large intestine without being fully digested is termed resistant starch (RS). Starch digestibility should be considered as a kinetic property (slower to faster) affected by host-specific factors, rather than as a binary trait (resistant or nonresistant).

RS is degraded by the colon’s complex ecosystem of microbes, triggering a cascading web of metabolic interactions. RS acts as a resource that is degraded and fermented by a hierarchy of specialized gut microbes:

  1. Primary degraders grow on RS in monoculture. They penetrate outer surfaces of intact RS granules, exposing pores and deeper concentric matrices while liberating oligosaccharides and generating metabolites like lactate and acetate.
  2. Secondary degraders grow on starch in monoculture, but degrade intact RS poorly or not at all. Instead, they may adhere to abrasions and pores on RS before participating in its degradation, and opportunistically utilize solubilized oligosaccharides produced by other RS degraders.
  3. Cross-feeders do not grow on starch in monoculture. They utilize by-products generated by upstream degraders, helping to maintain stoichiometric equilibrium and thermodynamically favorable (i.e. unconstrained) fermentation.

Together, the subsystem of microbes involved in RS degradation and fermentation participates in a complex network of cross-feeding interactions. In maintaining microbiome homeostasis, the RS nutrient web expands the scope of what could be considered a ‘beneficial’ gut microbe to a cluster of metabolically interconnected microbes.

1. Primary degraders such as acetate-producing Ruminococcus bromii are thought to be necessary for RS degradation in the human gut, where they unlock RS for other community members to degrade and ferment.

Ruminococcus genus

2. Secondary degraders possess extracellular amylases to degrade regular starch, but their contribution to initiating RS degradation is negligible compared to that of primary degraders. Instead, they may require primary degraders to erode smooth RS granule surfaces before adhering to RS and/or scavenging for ‘substrate spillover’ (i.e. excess oligosaccharides generated by primary degraders).

Eubacterium genus

Roseburia genus

3. Cross-feeders utilize starch by-products or metabolites generated by upstream RS degraders, such as acetate, lactate, formate, and succinate. Describing all known gut bacteria capable of utilizing these substrates exceeds the scope of this review, but one other example is noteworthy.

Faecalibacterium prausnitzii is a prominent butyrate-producing commensal, comprising 1.5% to 9.5% of fecal bacteria in European individuals. F. prausnitzii utilizes maltose and acetate to generate butyrate.

top 1-10 species

Microbiome sequencing data are compositional, meaning that gene amplicon read counts do not necessarily reflect bacterial absolute abundances. Instead, read counts are typically normalized to sum to 100%.

For this reason, relative abundances of smaller keystone communities (e.g. primary degraders) may increase, but appear to decrease simply because cross-feeders increase in relative abundance to a greater extent. These limitations illustrate the necessity of sufficiently powering RS interventions where microbiome composition is the primary endpoint, collecting critical baseline data and employing appropriate statistical techniques.”

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19490976.2021.1926842 “Resistant starch, microbiome, and precision modulation”

Take acetyl-L-carnitine for early-life trauma

This 2021 rodent study traumatized female mice during their last 20% of pregnancy, with effects that included:

  • Prenatally stressed pups raised by stressed mothers had normal cognitive function, but depressive-like behavior and social impairment;
  • Prenatally stressed pups raised by control mothers did not reverse behavioral deficits; and
  • Control pups raised by stressed mothers displayed prenatally stressed pups’ behavioral phenotypes.

Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) protected against and reversed depressive-like behavior induced by prenatal trauma:

alcar regime

ALCAR was supplemented in drinking water of s → S mice either from weaning to adulthood (3–8 weeks), or for one week in adulthood (7–8 weeks). ALCAR supplementation from weaning rendered s → S mice resistant to developing depressive-like behavior.

ALCAR supplementation for 1 week during adulthood rescued depressive-like behavior. One week after ALCAR cessation, however, the anti-depressant effect of ALCAR was diminished.

Intergenerational trauma induces social deficits and depressive-like behavior through divergent and convergent mechanisms of both in utero and early-life parenting environments:

  • We establish 2-HG [2-hydroxyglutaric acid, a hypoxia and mitochondrial dysfunction marker, and an epigenetic modifier] as an early predictive biomarker for trauma-induced behavioral deficits; and
  • Demonstrate that early pharmacological correction of mitochondria metabolism dysfunction by ALCAR can permanently reverse behavioral deficits.”

https://www.nature.com/articles/s42003-021-02255-2 “Intergenerational trauma transmission is associated with brain metabotranscriptome remodeling and mitochondrial dysfunction”


Previously curated studies cited were:

This study had an effusive endorsement of acetyl-L-carnitine in its Discussion section, ending with:

“This has the potential to change lives of millions of people who suffer from major depression or have risk of developing this disabling disorder, particularly those in which depression arose from prenatal traumatic stress.”

I take a gram daily. Don’t know about prenatal trauma, but I’m certain what happened during my early childhood.

I asked both these researchers and those of Reference 70 for their estimates of a human equivalent to “0.3% ALCAR in drinking water.” Will update with their replies.


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Precondition your defenses with broccoli sprouts

This 2020 human cell study elaborated on mechanisms mentioned in Eat broccoli sprouts for your hearing and Sulforaphane in the Goldilocks zone:

“NFE2L2/NRF2, a transcriptional factor that controls expression of multiple detoxifying enzymes through antioxidant response elements (AREs), is a target of sulforaphane (SFN). NFE2L2/NRF2 is a target gene of TFEB (transcription factor EB), a master regulator of autophagic and lysosomal functions, which we show here to be potently activated by SFN.

SFN induces TFEB activation by stimulating a moderate increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS). Subsequently, cells are preconditioned to activate a self-defense mechanism that protects against oxidative damage.

TFEB activity is required for SFN-induced protection against both acute oxidant bursts and chronic oxidative stress. By simultaneously activating macroautophagy / autophagy and detoxifying pathways, natural compound SFN may trigger a self-defense cellular mechanism that can effectively mitigate oxidative stress commonly associated with many metabolic and age-related diseases.

KAUP_A_1739442_F0009_OC

SFN-induced TFEB nuclear accumulation was completely blocked by pretreatment of cells by N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), or by other commonly used antioxidants. NAC also blocked SFN-induced mRNA expression of TFEB target genes, as well as SFN-induced autophagosome formation.

SFN offers an exceptional therapeutic opportunity for many metabolic and age-related diseases, in which oxidative stress and impaired autophagy both contribute to pathologies.”

https://europepmc.org/article/PMC/PMC8078734 “Sulforaphane activates a lysosome-dependent transcriptional program to mitigate oxidative stress”


This study explored cell mechanisms and confirmed opposing effects of NAC. I dropped NAC supplementation 62 weeks ago during Week 1 of eating broccoli sprouts every day, and dropped other antioxidants later.

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Osprey breakfast

Basal cognition

To follow up Electroceuticals, a 2021 article by Dr. Michael Levin:

“A key philosophical idea, borrowed from computer science, is substrate independence. Components of a living system can carry out appropriate, clearly specified cognitive functions.

Cognitive processes in embryogenesis and regeneration:

rstb20200458f01

    • (a) An egg will reliably give rise to a species-specific anatomical outcome.
    • (b) This process is usually described as a feed-forward system where activity of gene-regulatory networks (GRNs) within cells results in expression of effector proteins that, via structural properties of proteins and physical forces, will result in the emergence of complex shape. This class of models (bottom-up process driven by self-organization and parallel activity of large numbers of local agents) is difficult to apply to several biological phenomena. Regulative development can alter subsequent steps to reach the correct anatomical goal state despite drastic deviations of the starting state.
    • (c) For example, mammalian embryos can be divided in half, giving rise to perfectly normal monozygotic twins, each of which has regenerated the missing cell mass.
    • (d) Mammalian embryos can also be combined, giving rise to a normal embryo in which no parts are duplicated.
    • (e) Such capabilities suggest that pattern control is fundamentally a homeostatic process—a closed-loop system using feedback to minimize error (distance) between a current shape and a target morphology. Although these kinds of decision-making models are commonplace in engineering, they are only recently beginning to be employed in biology. This kind of pattern-homeostatic process must store a setpoint that serves as a stop condition; however, as with most types of memory, it can be specifically modified by experience.
    • (f) In the phenomenon of trophic memory, damage created at a specific point on the branched structure of deer antlers is recalled as ectopic branch points in subsequent years’ antler regeneration. This reveals ability of cells at the scalp to remember spatial location of specific damage events and alter cell behaviour to adjust the resulting pattern appropriately—a pattern memory that stretches across months of time and considerable spatial distance and is able to modify low-level (cellular) growth rules to construct a pre-determined stored pattern that differs from genome-default for this species.
    • (g) A similar capability was recently shown in a molecularly tractable model system, in which genetically normal planarian flatworms were bioelectrically reprogrammed to regenerate two-headed animals when cut in subsequent rounds of asexual reproduction in plain water.
    • (h) The decision making revealed by cells, tissues and organs in these examples of dynamic remodelling toward specific target states could be implemented by cybernetic processes at various positions along a scale of proto-cognitive complexity.

A challenge for the field of basal cognition is to reveal gradualism of cellular properties underwriting this critical biological function to leverage an understanding of clear phase transitions observed in cognitive capacities. The origin and development of nervous systems is so far the most dramatic example.”

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rstb.2020.0458 “Uncovering cognitive similarities and differences, conservation and innovation”


Why aren’t more resources being directed toward these research efforts? Glad to see that at least one co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen, posthumously used his billions to sponsor science for human good.

Electroceuticals

To follow up A top-down view of biological goal-directed mechanisms, 2020 and 2021 presentations by Dr. Michael Levin of Tufts University:

“We want to able to design a living form at the level of anatomy, and have the system compile it down into a set of low level instructions that you would have to give to the cellular collective to make it do this. What we would like to do is to offload all that complexity onto cells, and control this  whole thing with inputs, experiences, or stimuli.

What evolution does is to exploit bioelectricity to implement networks that store these patterns, patterns that serve as memories and goal states.”


electroceuticals


Appreciate Dr. Levin sticking with his findings for three decades now. Credit my son for refreshing my memory.

The amino acid ergothioneine

A trio of papers on ergothioneine starts with a 2019 human study. 3,236 people without cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus ages 57.4 ± 6.0 were measured for 112 metabolites, then followed-up after 20+ years:

“We identified that higher ergothioneine was an independent marker of lower risk of cardiometabolic disease and mortality, which potentially can be induced by a specific healthy dietary intake.

overall mortality and ergothioneine

Ergothioneine exists in many dietary sources and has especially high levels in mushrooms, tempeh, and garlic. Ergothioneine has previously been associated with a higher intake of vegetables, seafood and with a lower intake of solid fats and added sugar as well as associated with healthy food patterns.”

https://heart.bmj.com/content/106/9/691 “Ergothioneine is associated with reduced mortality and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease”


I came across this study by its citation in a 2021 review:

“The body has evolved to rely on highly abundant low molecular weight thiols such as glutathione to maintain redox homeostasis but also play other important roles including xenobiotic detoxification and signalling. Some of these thiols may also be derived from diet, such as the trimethyl-betaine derivative of histidine, ergothioneine (ET).

image description

ET can be found in most (if not all) tissues, with differential rates of accumulation, owing to differing expression of the transporter. High expression of the transporter, and hence high levels of ET, is observed in certain cells (e.g. blood cells, bone marrow, ocular tissues, brain) that are likely predisposed to oxidative stress, although other tissues can accumulate high levels of ET with sustained administration. This has been suggested to be an adaptive physiological response to elevate ET in the damaged tissue and thereby limit further injury.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213231721000161 “Ergothioneine, recent developments”


The coauthors of this review were also coauthors of a 2018 review:

“Ergothioneine is avidly taken up from the diet by humans and other animals through a transporter, OCTN1. Ergothioneine is not rapidly metabolised, or excreted in urine, and has powerful antioxidant and cytoprotective properties.

ergothioneine in foods

Effects of dietary ET supplementation on oxidative damage in young healthy adults found a trend to a decrease in oxidative damage, as detected in plasma and urine using several established biomarkers of oxidative damage, but no major decreases. This could arguably be a useful property of ET: not interfering with important roles of ROS/RNS in healthy tissues, but coming into play when oxidative damage becomes excessive due to tissue injury, toxin exposure or disease, and ET is then accumulated.”

https://febs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/1873-3468.13123 “Ergothioneine – a diet-derived antioxidant with therapeutic potential”


I’m upping a half-pound of mushrooms every day to 3/4 lb. (340 g). Don’t think I could eat more garlic than the current six cloves.

PXL_20210606_095517049

I came across this subject in today’s video: