Dietary contexts matter

Two papers illustrated how actions of food compounds are affected by their contexts. The first was a 2020 UCLA rodent study:

“Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), particularly omega-3 (n-3) PUFAs, have been indicated to play important roles in various aspects of human health. Controversies are observed in epidemiological and experimental studies regarding the benefits or lack of benefits of n-3 PUFAs.

Dietary docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6 n-3) supplementation improved select metabolic traits and brain function, and induced transcriptomic and epigenetic alterations in hypothalamic and hippocampal tissues in both context-independent and context-specific manners:

  • In terms of serum triglyceride, glycemic phenotypes, insulin resistance index, and memory retention, DHA did not affect these phenotypes significantly when examined on the chow diet background, but significantly improved these phenotypes in fructose-treated animals.
  • Genes and pathways related with tissue structure were affected by DHA regardless of the dietary context, although the direction of changes are not necessarily the same between contexts. These pathways may represent the core functions of DHA in maintaining cell membrane function and cell signaling.
  • DHA affected the mTOR signaling pathway in hippocampus. In the hypothalamus, altered pathways were more related to innate immunity, such as cytokine-cytokine receptors, NF-κB signaling pathway, and Toll-like receptor signaling pathway.

DHA exhibits differential influence on epigenetic loci, genes, pathways, and metabolic and cognitive phenotypes under different dietary contexts.” “Multi‐tissue Multi‐omics Nutrigenomics Indicates Context‐specific Effects of DHA on Rat Brain” (not freely available)

A human equivalent age period of the subjects was 12 to 20 years old. If these researchers want to make their study outstanding, they’ll contact their UCLA colleague Dr. Steven Horvath, and apply his new human-rat relative biological age epigenetic clock per A rejuvenation therapy and sulforaphane.

The second paper was a 2016 review Interactions between phytochemicals from fruits and vegetables: Effects on bioactivities and bioavailability (not freely available):

“The biological activities of food phytochemicals depend upon their bioaccessibility and bioavailability which can be affected by the presence of other food components including other bioactive constituents. For instance, α-tocopherol mixed with a flavonol (kaempferol or myricetin) is more effective in inhibiting lipid oxidation induced by free radicals than each component alone.

Interactions of phytochemicals may enhance or reduce the bioavailability of a given compound, depending on the facilitation/competition for cellular uptake and transportation. For example, β-carotene increases the bioavailability of lycopene in human plasma, and quercetin-3-glucoside reduces the absorption of anthocyanins.

Combinations of food extracts containing hydrophilic antioxidants and lipophilic antioxidants showed very high synergistic effects on free radical scavenging activities. A number of phytochemical mixtures and food combinations provide synergistic effects on inhibiting inflammation.

More research should be conducted to understand mechanisms of bioavailability interference considering physiological concentrations, food matrices, and food processing.”

Each of us can set appropriate contexts for our food consumption. Broccoli sprout synergies covered how I take supplements and broccoli sprouts together an hour or two before meals to keep meal contents from lowering sulforaphane bioavailability.

Combinations of my 19 supplements and broccoli sprouts are too many (616,645) for complete analyses. Just pairwise comparisons like the second paper’s example below would be 190 combinations.

binary isobologram

Contexts for each combination’s synergistic, antagonistic, or additive activities may also be influenced by other combinations’ results.

I expect my consumption of flax oil (alpha linolenic acid C18:3) to have effects similar to DHA since it’s an omega-3 PUFA and I take it with food. The first study’s human equivalent DHA dose was 100mg/kg, with its citation for clinical trials stating “1–9 g/day (0.45–4% of calories) n-3 PUFA.”

The 2020 Spanish review Functional Ingredients From Brassicaceae Species: Overview and Perspectives had perspectives such as:

“In many circumstances, the isolated bioactive is not as bioavailable or metabolically active as in the natural food matrix.”

It discussed categories but not combinations of phenolics, carotenoids, phytoalexins, terpenes, phytosteroids, and tocopherols, along with more well-known broccoli compounds.

Diving for breakfast

Week 28 of Changing to a youthful phenotype with broccoli sprouts

Did a little math to end this 28th week of eating a clinically relevant weight of microwaved broccoli sprouts every day:

  • I changed the title of weekly updates after Week 7 as a result of A rejuvenation therapy and sulforaphane. Numbers used from its study: “Rats were injected four times on alternate days for 8 days.”
  • Study numbers in Part 2 of Rejuvenation therapy and sulforaphane regarding the new human-rat relative biological age epigenetic clock: “The maximum lifespan for rats and humans were set to 3.8 years and 122.5 years, respectively.” I’m at a similar percentage of species maximum lifespan as were the study’s treated subjects.
  • A human-equivalent multiplication factor that can be applied to a rat post-development time period is 122.5 / 3.8 = 32.2. An 8-day rat treatment period ≈ 258 human days, and 258 / 7 ≈ 37 weeks.

To paraphrase the study’s lead laboratory researcher’s An environmental signaling paradigm of aging paper, aging is a programmed series of life stages. A body clock reset described there and subsequently experimentally tested changed 30 measurements to earlier life stages.

A reset may not require more than what I’ve been doing since the end of March. Maybe 28 weeks hasn’t been long enough to find out?

See the below discussion for a different point of view. I don’t think relative rates of metabolism between species would be more accurate than other measures because of individual differences among humans.

A chart from Microwave broccoli seeds to create sulforaphane of 10 people’s metabolisms after ingesting 200 μmol (35 mg) sulforaphane provides an example. Individual sulforaphane metabolites (DTC is dithiocarbamates) peak plasma measurements ranged from 0.359 μmol to 2.032 μmol.

sulforaphane peak plasma

So we’re patient.

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.” “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 they needed 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.”

Jet fuel exposure causes diseases in the great-grand offspring

This 2020 Washington State University rodent study examined how great-grandmothers’ JP-8 exposures produced diseases in their great-grand offspring:

“Ancestral exposure to environmental influences such as toxicants, abnormal nutrition, and traumatic stress can affect the germline epigenome and promote the epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult onset disease in various organisms from plants to humans. Biological mechanisms underlying transgenerational epigenetic inheritance induced by jet fuel exposure are further investigated in the current study.

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have found specific genetic mutations associated with human pathologies, however these genetic mutations generally appear in less than 1% of the disease population. In contrast, epimutations (DNA methylation, histone modifications, non-coding RNA, chromatin structure, and RNA methylation alterations) seem to have a higher frequency and appear in more individuals with the diseases. Determining epigenetic biomarkers for these diseases could become especially useful indicators of environmental exposures and disease susceptibility in the human population.

The number of differential methylated regions (DMRs) found in the transgenerational F3 males is between 100 and 500 for each individual pathology. Few DMRs overlap between the different pathologies which supports the possible use of epimutations as biomarkers of disease. Although further studies are required, the lack of a subpopulation of DMRs overlapping with all pathologies suggests that at a more stringent statistical threshold there are not common DMRs among specific diseases.

Although females develop transgenerational disease, insufficient numbers of oocytes can be obtained on individuals to allow epigenetic associations to be assessed. The study only examined male pathology and associated sperm epimutation associations.” “Epigenome-wide association study for transgenerational disease sperm epimutation biomarkers following ancestral exposure to jet fuel hydrocarbons”

The only associations these study subjects had with JP-8 were their great-grandmothers’ jet fuel exposures while pregnant with their grandparents. Other environmental toxicants studied by this group that produced similar transgenerationally inherited diseases were DDT, atrazine, and vinclozolin.

Ever think about your great-grandchildren?

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.” “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.

Get serious about advanced glycation end products (AGEs)

Ever heard about AGEs? Here are three papers that describe how AGEs affect humans.

First is a 2020 Italian review Common Protective Strategies in Neurodegenerative Disease: Focusing on Risk Factors to Target the Cellular Redox System:

“Neurodegenerative disease is an umbrella term for different conditions which primarily affect the neurons in the human brain. Currently, neurodegenerative diseases are incurable, and the treatments available only control the symptoms or delay the progression of the disease.

Neurotoxicity can be induced by glycation reactions. Since glycation is a nonenzymatic process, proteins characterized by a slow turnover are those that more easily accumulate AGEs.

Methylglyoxal (MG) can occur as glycolysis by-product, but it is also present in foods (especially cooked and baked), beverages (mainly those fermented), and cigarette smoke, and it is considered the most potent precursor of AGE formation. More than 20 different AGEs have been identified in foods and in human tissues.

AGE accumulation, oxidative stress, and inflammation are related to AGE ability to bind specific receptors called RAGE. RAGE expression increases during aging, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, AD [Alzheimer’s], PD [Parkinson’s], and other neurodegenerative diseases.”

A 2015 study by some of the same authors Antiglycative activity of sulforaphane: a new avenue to counteract neurodegeneration? was cited for a treatment in addition to changing one’s diet to be AGE-less.

“When MG production is increased by high glucose or oxidative stress, glycated proteins accumulate in the brain and lead to glycative stress, playing a fundamental role in the establishment of different neurodegenerative disorders.

Our results indicated that SF [sulforaphane] counteracts ROS by two possible mechanisms of action: an increase of intracellular GSH [glutathione] levels and an enhancement of MG-detoxification through the up-regulation of the glyoxalase (GLO1) systems. GLO1 up-regulation is mediated by the transcription factor Nrf2. SF has been demonstrated to activate Nrf2.

Another mechanism by which SF exerts its neuroprotective activity against MG-induced glycative damage is the modulation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways involved in apoptotic cell death. All MAPK signaling pathways are activated in AD.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is associated with neuronal survival through its interactions with the tyrosine receptor kinase B (TrkB) and p75 cellular receptors. BDNF expression levels are reduced in the brain of AD patients. SF pre-treatment, before MG addition, not only further increased BDNF levels, but also significantly induced TrkB protein levels reverting MG negative effect on this receptor.

SF totally reverts the reduction of glucose uptake caused by MG exposure. SF can be defined as a multitarget agent modulating different cellular functions leading to a pro-survival frame of particular importance in the prevention / counteraction of multifactorial neurodegenerative diseases.”

A 2020 review Non-enzymatic covalent modifications: a new link between metabolism and epigenetics investigated glycation:

“Non-enzymatic covalent modifications (NECMs) by chemically reactive metabolites have been reported to manipulate chromatin architecture and gene transcription. Unlike canonical post-translational modifications (PTMs), NECMs accumulate over time and are much more dependent on the cellular microenvironment.

A. Guanine residues in DNA and RNA can undergo methylglyoxal glycation, thereby inducing DNA and RNA damage. This DNA damage has few corresponding repair pathways.

B. Histones are primary glycation substrates because of their long half-lives and abundant lysine and arginine residues. Histone glycation was found to induce epigenetic dysregulation through three distinct mechanisms:

  1. Competition with essential enzymatic PTMs for sites (e.g., glycation adducts replace H3K4me3 and H3R8me2);
  2. Changing the charge states of histone tails and subsequently affecting the compaction state of the fiber; and
  3. Altering three-dimensional chromatin architecture by inducing both histone-histone and histone-DNA crosslinking.

Epigenetic impacts of histone glycation were shown to be dependent on sugar concentration and exposure time. Histone and DNA glycation may lead to long term epigenetic impacts on immune responses.

C. Glycation of multiple lysine residues of NRF2 inhibits its oncogenic function. Sugar molecules can influence epigenetic events through glycation of transcription factors and/or their associated regulatory proteins.”

The Transcription factor glycation section referenced a 2011 paper Regulation of the Keap1/Nrf2 system by chemopreventive sulforaphane: implications of posttranslational modifications:

“Nrf2 mRNA level is unaffected by treatment with sulforaphane, suggesting that cellular expression of Nrf2 protein is posttranscriptionally regulated. Posttranslational modifications of Keap1 and Nrf2 proteins seem to play an important role in the regulation of ARE‐dependent gene expression.”

“Neurodegenerative diseases are incurable” for people who don’t take responsibility for their one precious life.

Other curated AGEs papers include:

Broccoli sprout synergies

I was asked for examples of broccoli sprout synergies with supplements mentioned in Week 19 of Changing to a youthful phenotype with broccoli sprouts. I take supplements and broccoli sprouts together an hour or two before meals to keep meal contents from lowering sulforaphane bioavailability. Sulforaphane peaks in plasma between 1 and 2 hours after ingestion.

sulforaphane peak plasma

I started splitting broccoli sprout doses after reading the first study of A pair of broccoli sprout studies. The second study was Untargeted metabolomic screen reveals changes in human plasma metabolite profiles following consumption of fresh broccoli sprouts.

Those subjects ate only “a single dose of fresh broccoli sprouts (providing 200 μmol SFN equivalents) at 8 AM on study day 1.” A 200 μmol amount of sulforaphane is a 35 mg weight.

For comparison, my daily consumption is a worst-case 52 mg sulforaphane from microwaving 131 g of 3-day-old broccoli sprouts per Estimating daily consumption of broccoli sprout compounds. Every day for 22 weeks now. 🙂

The second study’s measurements through 48 hours produced this informative graphic and text:

“Of the features we identified using metabolite databases and classified as endogenous, eleven were significantly altered.

  • Glutathione (GSH) – a major intracellular antioxidant that conjugates with SFN during metabolism – was significantly decreased in plasma at 6, 12 and 24 hours following sprout intake.
  • GSH precursors glutamine (3 and 24 hours) and cysteine (12 and 24 hours) also decreased.
  • We observed significant decreases in dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) at 3, 6 and 12 hours.
  • Decreases in fatty acids reported here suggest that even a single dose of broccoli sprouts may alter plasma lipids in healthy adult populations.

While this study focuses largely on potential effects of SFN, broccoli sprouts contain many other bioactive components (e.g., indoles) that could be responsible for our observations as well as additional health benefits.”

Supplements I take twice daily with broccoli sprouts:

  • 1 gram L-glutamine for replenishment and other purposes;
  • 25 mg DHEA to replenish and other effects;
  • 15 mg then 50 mg zinc, which has a role in GSH metabolism;
  • 500 mg glucosamine (anti-inflammatory, crosstalk with Nrf2 signaling pathway);
  • 500 mg acetyl-L-carnitine (induces Nrf2-dependent mitochondrial biogenesis); and
  • 1400 IU then 2000 IU Vitamin D. A major portion of its effects is Nrf2 activation, like sulforaphane. A virtuous circle develops when taken with broccoli sprouts in that the Vitamin D receptor is a Nrf2 target gene inducible by sulforaphane, which then upregulates Nrf2 expression levels.

One of the things eating Boring Chicken Vegetable Soup twice a day does is replenish cysteine. I eat that and steel-cut oats (another cysteine source) separately from broccoli sprouts.

I take 1 gram flax oil with breakfast and dinner instead of with broccoli sprouts. Haven’t found relevant research on whether broccoli sprout compounds decrease omega-3 polyunsaturated alpha linolenic acid C18:3 as they do these six endogenous fatty acids.

Both studies investigated effects of fresh broccoli sprouts. Timing of their measured decreases and increases are different for me because I microwave broccoli sprouts up to but not exceeding 60°C (140°F).

A section of Microwave broccoli seeds to create sulforaphane highlighted metabolic differences among fresh broccoli sprouts, microwaved broccoli sprouts, and broccoli sprout supplements.

“A metabolic profile resulting from my current practices is probably between the Sprout and BSE (broccoli sprout extract) divided-dose statistics:

  1. Sulforaphane intake is greater than eating raw broccoli sprouts because microwaving 3-day-old broccoli sprouts creates sulforaphane in them before eating.
  2. Sulforaphane uptake from microwaved broccoli sprouts is quicker than eating raw broccoli sprouts. It may not be as immediate as taking sulforaphane supplements, which are usually powders.
  3. Sulforaphane dose from microwaved broccoli sprouts is less dependent on an individual’s metabolism than eating raw broccoli sprouts.
  4. Sulforaphane release from microwaved broccoli sprouts continues on to the gut as does eating raw broccoli sprouts. Sulforaphane release from supplements typically ends in the stomach.”

One thing I didn’t mention in that blog post was that glucoraphanin also increased by microwaving per Microwave broccoli to increase sulforaphane levels. A coauthor clarified a chart’s 60°C (140°F) glucoraphanin amount increased by 27% (2.78 / 2.18 μmol).

Metabolism of broccoli sprout glucoraphanin and other glucosinolates that aren’t preferentially hydrolyzed by microwaving and thorough chewing is assisted in the gut twice a day by:

  • 6 billion IU acidophilus; and
  • 750 mg fructo-oligosaccharides.

See Treating psychopathological symptoms will somehow resolve causes? for updates.

Take responsibility for your one precious life – Trained immunity

This 2020 review subject was the normal progression of our immune systems:

“Age-related alterations in the immune system result in high susceptibility to infections, increased risk of hospitalization and mortality. Defects in adaptive immunity underlie the markedly low vaccine efficiency in the elderly. Despite reduced cellular functions, a systemic increase in inflammatory markers, so-called inflammaging, is observed in aged individuals.

Trained immunity is a newly emerging concept that showed that innate immune cells possess non-specific immunological memory established through epigenetic and metabolic reprogramming upon encountering certain pathogenic stimuli.

Novel approaches targeting innate immunity to improve host responses are crucial to evade the consequences of the aged immune system. It is an emerging concept that innate immune cells can manifest memory-like properties that are not antigen-specific and exhibit enhanced responsiveness upon later challenges with heterologous stimuli. Whether trained immune responses change as people age is yet to be explored.” “Overcoming immune dysfunction in the elderly: trained immunity as a novel approach”

Previous papers by this review’s corresponding coauthor were curated in:

There’s no reason to rely entirely on the review’s elaborate vaccination schemes to develop trained immunity. Take responsibility for your one precious life and Train your immune system every day!

Eat broccoli sprouts for your hair!

This 2017 review explored broccoli sprout compounds effects on head hair:

“Skin appendages, notably hair follicles (HFs), can be exposed to high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are generated through metabolic reactions occurring mostly in the mitochondria, peroxisomes and the endoplasmic reticulum as well as in the plasma membrane. Despite their involvement in redox stress and cellular damage, ROS also have key roles in physiological signalling processes, including but not limited to, control of stem cell quiescence / differentiation, regulation of innate and adaptive immune responses and importantly, normal HF development.

HFs are composed of a series of concentric keratinocyte layers with a central hair shaft, all of which are encapsulated by a mesenchymal connective tissue sheath. Within this structure is an area known as the ‘bulge’, housing a population of epithelial and melanocyte stem cells. The hair bulb, the lowermost portion of the HF, contains transient amplifying cells that produce the rapidly proliferating matrix keratinocytes that give rise to the various cell types of the inner root sheath and hair shaft itself.

Putative impact of NRF2 activation on protection against hair disorders:

  1. Accumulation of excess ROS within crucial HF compartments (i.e. bulb and bulge) can be induced by endogenous and exogenous stressors associated with androgenetic alopecia (AGA), alopecia areata (excessive mast cell degranulation), chemotherapy, UV exposure and even physiological processes such as melanogenesis.
  2. In the HFSCs [hair follicle stem cells] of the bulge, this can lead to reduced FOXP1 signaling, increased senescence and P21-mediated telogen retention, contributing the hair ageing.
  3. In the hair bulb, negative consequences of excessive ROS can include reduced matrix keratinocyte proliferation and Bcl-2 expression, coupled to increased p53 activity and apoptosis. This redox imbalance may also stimulate the dermal papilla-derived TGF-b1 release associated with AGA.
  4. NRF2 activation via SFN [sulforaphane] can induce the expression of numerous downstream targets, hence suggesting the potential to counteract excessive ROS and associated pathologies, for example via enhanced clearance of reactive species, detoxification, NADPH generation and GSH maintenance.
  5. In addition, NRF2 may down-regulate genes that would negatively impact on proliferation and stimulate apoptosis.
  6. Ultimately, the activation of NRF2 has the potential to protect against HF miniaturization, chemotherapy-induced apoptosis, HFSC aging and hair greying, through maintenance of normal redox homeostasis.

Whereas eumelanin (black) is involved in natural UV protection by reducing generation of free radicals, pheomelanin (red) can trigger generation of ROS. It would certainly be interesting to determine whether NRF2 activity is therefore higher in individuals with red as opposed to black hair, in order to mitigate any negative impact from higher ROS generation.

Modulation of NRF2 activity is an attractive approach for further study in the prevention of hair greying and HFSC ageing. The remarkable prospect for NRF2 activators in modulating other oxidative stress-linked disease states, strongly advocates for the development of NRF2 targeting as a novel strategy in modulating redox-associated disorders of the HF.” “Oxidative stress management in the hair follicle: Could targeting NRF2 counter age‐related hair disorders and beyond?” (not freely available)

This review was cited in a 2020 Exploring the possibility of predicting human head hair greying from DNA using whole-exome and targeted NGS data:

“This study aimed to assess the potential of genetic data to predict hair greying in a population of nearly 1000 individuals from Poland. Most of the prediction information was brought by age alone. Genetic variants explained < 10% of hair greying variation and the impact of particular SNPs on prediction accuracy was found to be small.

Study population included 673 males (67.4%) and 325 (32.6%) females. The mean age of the participants was 30.5 ± 8.8.

Hair greying was recorded in 14.3% of individuals aged 18–30 and the prevalence of grey hair was noted to be significantly higher in young males when comparing to young females (17.8 and 9.2%, respectively). The incidence of grey hair increased to 29.5% in the group of people aged 18–40 years and was 84.2% when people aged ≥40 years were considered.

Because pleiotropy is so common, it would be impossible to predict natural phenotypes avoiding genes involved in determination of pathological phenotypes. The penetrance of individual SNP variants is usually low and they altogether can only explain a small fraction of the predisposition to the disease.

Prediction of hair greying status solely based on genetic information is currently impossible.”

A 2020 review had a pertinent evaluation scheme:

“Geroprotectors are pharmacological agents that decrease the rate of aging and extend lifespan. We proposed a set of primary and secondary selection criteria for potential geroprotectors. Primary criteria:

  1. The life extension in experiments with wild type animal models. The geroprotector should prolong the life of the model beyond the intact maximum lifespan, protecting it from one or more mechanisms of aging.
  2. Improvement of molecular, cellular, and physiological biomarkers to a younger state or slow down the progression of age-related changes in humans.
  3. Most potential geroprotectors are preventive only when applied at relatively high concentrations. The lifespan-extending dose should be several orders of magnitude less than the toxic dose.
  4. Minimal side effects at the therapeutic dosage at chronic application.
  5. The potential benefit of taking a geroprotector may come after a long period. Potential geroprotectors should initially improve some parameters of health-related quality of life: physical, mental, emotional, or social functioning of the person.” “Terpenoids as Potential Geroprotectors”


Aging as a normal disease

This 2018 review explained:

“Aging is the sum of all age-related diseases. Aging and its diseases are inseparable, as these diseases are manifestations of aging.

An aged appearance (e.g., grey hair, wrinkles, cushingoid body types and loss of muscles) are manifestations of pre-diseases. For example, an aged appearance may reflect hypercortisolism, sarcopenia, osteoporosis, skin pre-diseases.

Instead of healthy aging, we could use the terms pre-disease aging or decelerated aging. Treatments are generally more effective at pre-disease stages, associated with hyper-function, than at disease stages, associated with functional decline.

The decision to treat or not to treat is often determined by whether it is possible to treat.

A treatment that slows aging increases both healthspan (subclinical period) and lifespan, whereas a treatment that increases lifespan (e.g., coronary bypass, defibrillation) is not necessarily increase healthspan. The goal of both anti-aging therapies and preventive medicine is to extend healthspan (by preventing diseases), thus extending total lifespan.

The fact that aging is an obligatory part of the life of all organisms is not important. Aging can be treated as a pre-disease to prevent its progression to diseases. Aging does not need to be defined as a disease to be treated.” “Disease or not, aging is easily treatable”

A cherry-picked DNA methylation study

This 2020 US/Sweden/Denmark human study measured twins during their old age:

“We evaluate individual differences in DNA methylation at individual CpG sites across the methylome across 10 years in two Scandinavian samples of same‐sex aging twins. We test two competing hypotheses about the longitudinal stability and change in DNA methylation:

  1. The contribution of genetic influences changes with age, reflecting diminishing influence across time; and
  2. Nonshared factors accumulate in importance, signaling an increasing diversity of response to environmental exposures.

Understanding epigenetic changes over time in the elderly may identify pathways of decline or plasticity (e.g., maintenance or even boosts in functioning) during the aging process and help with elucidating the biology of aging and survival.

Across time, stability in methylation is primarily due to genetic contributions, while novel experiences and exposures contribute to methylation differences. Elevated genetic contributions at age‐related methylation sites suggest that adaptions to aging and senescence may be differentially impacted by genetic background.” “A decade of epigenetic change in aging twins: Genetic and environmental contributions to longitudinal DNA methylation”

Swedish subject measurements were taken at ages 62 and 72. Danish subject measurements were taken at ages 76 and 86.

One epigenetic clock that used 2019 technology was favored over three others, including Horvath’s 2013 original clock. For some reason this study didn’t use his 2018 skin-and-blood clock that had vastly improved technology such as an 18-fold increase in genomic coverage with Illumina 450k/850k bead arrays.

These researchers’ intentions became evident with:

“The 353 Horvath clock sites were selected as best predictors of chronological age using multiple tissues. The 71 Hannum clock sites best predicted age (adjusted for sex, BMI) based on methylation observed in whole blood while the 514 sites from the Zhang prediction model relied on methylation observed in blood and saliva samples (Zhang et al., 2019).

The current findings of moderately higher heritabilities in the Zhang and Hannum sites versus the other clock sites may be in part due to our use of blood tissue.”

The 18-fold increase improved accuracy in blood for the 2018 Horvath clock. Could these researchers ignore it and claim they did their due diligence in 2019 and 2020?

A larger issue was this study’s duality paradigm of either heritability or environment being solely responsible for observed changes. Consider what A blood plasma aging clock found at ages 60 and 78 peaks:

The above changes were due to life stage. Josh Mitteldorf did his usual excellent job of providing contexts for that study with New Aging Clock based on Proteins in the Blood, including:

“The implication is that a more accurate clock can be constructed if it incorporates different information at different life stages. None of the Horvath clocks have been derived based on different CpG sites at different ages, and this suggests an opportunity for a potential improvement in accuracy.”

Weren’t changes in subjects’ life stages relevant to their epigenetic changes? Why wouldn’t their life stages have been among the causes of observed effects?

Topical sulforaphane protects skin

This 2020 Rutgers rodent study explored topical application of sulforaphane to prevent UVB-induced skin carcinogenesis:

“We investigated the transcriptomic and DNA methylomic changes during tumor initiation, promotion, and progression and its impact and reversal by sulforaphane (SFN). The production of ROS and inflammation are closely linked to UVB-induced carcinogenesis. SFN protects skin cells from UVB-induced damage mainly through promoting anti-inflammatory, antioxidative and anticancer pathways.

We observed the changes after 2, 15 and 25 weeks of UVB exposure, which would represent the three different stages of skin cancer development. After 2 weeks of UVB exposure, we did not observe any obvious tumors in the UVB group. But after 15 weeks of UVB exposure, some obvious tumors were observed in the skin.

After 15 weeks of UVB treatment in epidermal tissue, the difference between the UVB group and the control group was significantly more than that between the SFN group versus the UVB group. SFN appears to have better cancer-protective effects in earlier time points (weeks 14 and 20) than later time point (week 24). At weeks 20, SFN had significantly fewer tumors with decreased total tumor volume and tumor number.

SFN plays a highly regulatory role in various signaling pathways during UVB irradiation. SFN impacts UVB-induced alterations of DNA methylation profiles, and importantly, SFN treatment attenuates some of these DNA methylation changes. We found a subset of genes associated with SFN treatment, and the relevant changes in gene expression may be driven by promoter CpG methylation status.” “Epigenome, Transcriptome, and Protection by Sulforaphane at Different Stages of UVB-Induced Skin Carcinogenesis” (not freely available)

We’re getting closer to using epigenetic clocks in sulforaphane studies. This study ignored the 2018 A multi-tissue full lifespan epigenetic clock for mice in favor of their homegrown DNA methylation measurements.

A search of didn’t turn up directly relevant human studies.

Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance of epimutations

My 600th curation is a 2020 rodent study from Dr. Michael Skinner’s labs at Washington State University:

“Numerous environmental toxicants have been shown to induce the epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of disease and phenotypic variation. Alterations in the germline epigenome are necessary to transmit transgenerational phenotypes.

In previous studies, the pesticide DDT and the agricultural fungicide vinclozolin were shown to promote the transgenerational inheritance of sperm differential DNA methylation regions, non-coding RNAs and histone retention, which are termed epimutations. The current study was designed to investigate the developmental origins of the transgenerational differential histone retention sites (called DHRs) during gametogenesis of the sperm.

In addition to alterations in sperm DNA methylation and ncRNA expression previously identified, the induction of DHRs in the later stages of spermatogenesis also occurs. This novel component of epigenetic programming during spermatogenesis can be environmentally altered and transmitted to subsequent generations.

While the DHR may be consistent and present between the stages of development, the histone modifications may be altered. Several of the core histone retention sites absent in the DHRs had altered histone methylation. This adds a level of complexity to the potential role of histone retention in that it may be not only the retention, but also the alterations in histone epigenetic modifications.

The DHRs had positional associations with genes and the major functional categories were signaling, metabolism and transcription.

In the event the embryo stem cell population has a modified epigenetics and corresponding transcriptome, then all somatic cells derived from the stem cell population will have an altered cascade of epigenetic and gene expression programming to result in adult differentiated cells with altered epigenetics and transcriptomes. Previous observations have demonstrated in older adult human males alterations in histone retention develop and are associated with infertility.

Similar observations have also been provided for the development of differential DNA methylation regions (DMRs) induced by environmental toxicants such as DDT and vinclozolin. Since DHRs have a similar developmental programming, other epigenetic processes such as ncRNA are also anticipated to be similar.” “Developmental origins of transgenerational sperm histone retention following ancestral exposures”

This study, like its dozens of predecessors performed year after year by this research facility, provided evidence for mechanisms of epigenetic transgenerational inheritance. The studied F3 generation members were great-grand-offspring, the first generation to have no direct exposure to DDT and vinclozolin.

As pointed out in A compelling review of epigenetic transgenerational inheritance:

“During the 1950s, the entire North American population was exposed to high levels of the pesticide DDT, when the obesity rate was < 5% of the population. Three generations later, the obesity frequency in North America is now ~45% of the population.”

There are varieties of mischaracterizations and hand-waving denials of epigenetically-inherited diseases. People don’t want to hear about and read proof that something we did or experienced disfavored our children, who unwittingly passed resultant problems on to their children, and which furthered on to their children’s children.

Take responsibility for your one precious life – β glucan

From the main page of, a compilation for researchers:

“Beta Glucan extracted from yeast cell wall, can be a potent immune response potentiator and modulator. A common test to determine a glucan’s immune response potentiation effectiveness is the measure of the degree to which a glucan increases the nitric oxide burst, a pathogen killing agent.

Determinants of immune response activation and effectiveness are beta glucan source, processing, sizing and uniformity of beta glucan particles ingested. Particle size of 1-4 microns is optimum. Ingestion is optimized to prevent reaggregation.”

A sample of research:

“The tested (and suggested) daily dose remains in the range of 100–500 mg for stimulation of the immune system, whereas for a decrease in cholesterol levels a daily dose of 3 g is recommended.

Glucan supplementation prevents or even treats metabolic syndrome and decreases insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, and obesity. Glucan supplementation is a highly promising and inexpensive method of treatment for chronic respiratory problems.

Reactions known to be influenced by glucan are represented in white, reactions where glucan has no confirmed effects are shown in black.” “Beta Glucan: Supplement or Drug? From Laboratory to Clinical Trials”

“Supplementation with glucan and vitamin D resulted in significant increase of vitamin D levels, improvements of HDL levels, and strong decrease of the total level of cholesterol.” “Effects of β-glucan and Vitamin D Supplementation on Inflammatory Parameters in Patients with Diabetic Retinopathy”

“β-glucan inhibits tumor growth through induced systemic tumor-antigen specific T cell response, increased activity of T-cells in tumor, and decreased number of tumor-caused immunosuppressive cells. Sulforaphane inhibits CRC [colorectal cancer] carcinogenesis by modulating Nrf2 activity and inhibition of HDAC enzymes.

In a women’s health initiative prospective cohort during their 11.7-year follow up of dietary fiber and omega-3, -6 fatty acids, the results pointed out a reduced incidence of CRC for the association between a low dose of soluble fiber, a high dose of insoluble fiber, and a high dose of EPA and DHA.” “Chemoprevention of Colorectal Cancer by Dietary Compounds”

I first curated the above review and graphic in Train your immune system every day! 12 days into a self-quarantine after coming back from Milano, Italy, Monday, February 24, 2020. There’s a substantial probability that my wonderful woman and I were exposed to COVID-19.

Yet neither of us had any symptoms then or since. The β-glucan, Vitamin D3, and zinc amounts were the same as described in that post, in Take responsibility for your one precious life – Vitamin D3, and in Take responsibility for your one precious life – Zinc.

Take responsibility for your one precious life – Zinc

This 2020 review highlighted earlier clinical data on zinc:

  • “Zinc is known to modulate antiviral and antibacterial immunity and regulate inflammatory response.
  • Zinc possesses anti-inflammatory activity by inhibiting NF-κB signaling and modulation of regulatory T-cell functions.
  • The most critical role of zinc is demonstrated for the immune system.
  • Zinc regulates proliferation, differentiation, maturation, and functioning of leukocytes and lymphocytes.

Alteration of zinc status significantly affects immune response resulting in increased susceptibility to inflammatory and infectious diseases including acquired immune deficiency syndrome, measles, malaria, tuberculosis, and pneumonia. Zinc status is associated with the prevalence of respiratory tract infections in children and adults.

In view of the high prevalence of zinc deficiency worldwide (up to 17%), its impact on population health is considered as a significant issue. Certain groups of people, including infants, especially preterm ones, and elderly, are considered to be at high risk of zinc deficiency and its adverse effects.

Zinc was shown to have a significant impact on viral infections through modulation of viral particle entry, fusion, replication, viral protein translation and further release for a number of viruses including those involved in respiratory system pathology. Increasing intracellular Zn levels through application of Zn ionophores significantly alters replication of picornavirus, the leading cause of common cold.

The results of systematic analysis confirmed the efficiency of intake of at least 75 mg/day Zn in reduction of pneumonia symptom duration but not severity, with the response being more pronounced in adults than in children.” “Zinc and respiratory tract infections: Perspectives for COVID-19”

The review noted a 2014 rodent cell study which found:

“Labile zinc, a tiny fraction of total intracellular zinc that is loosely bound to proteins and easily interchangeable, modulates the activity of numerous signaling and metabolic pathways. Dietary plant polyphenols such as the flavonoids quercetin and epigallocatechin-gallate act as antioxidants and as signaling molecules. The activities of numerous enzymes that are targeted by polyphenols are dependent on zinc.

We have demonstrated the capacity of quercetin and epigallocatechin-gallate to rapidly increase labile zinc. The polyphenols transport zinc cations across the plasma membrane independently of plasma membrane zinc transporters.

The ionophore activity of dietary polyphenols may underlay the raising of labile zinc levels triggered in cells by polyphenols and thus many of their biological actions.” “Zinc Ionophore Activity of Quercetin and Epigallocatechin-gallate: From Hepa 1-6 Cells to a Liposome Model” (not freely available)

I get EGCG from drinking 4-5 cups of green tea every day, and 65 mg zinc from supplements. Microwave broccoli to increase flavonoid levels demonstrated 108.5% to 129.8% increases in quercetin and kaempferol levels from microwaving grocery-store broccoli. Microwaving 3-day-old broccoli sprouts may be expected to increase my worst-case calculation of daily 134 mg total flavonoids.

I’ve taken quercetin intermittently per Preliminary findings from a senolytics clinical trial. I’m changing that to take 100 mg quercetin daily.

Take responsibility for your own one precious life.