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Journal: The Journal of nutritional biochemistry


Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, phytochemicals and antioxidants making them unique compared to other foods. Consuming walnuts has been associated with health benefits including a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. Dysbiosis of the gut microbiome has been linked to several chronic diseases. One potential mechanism by which walnuts may exert their health benefit is through modifying the gut microbiome. This study identified the changes in the gut microbial communities that occur following the inclusion of walnuts in the diet. Male Fischer 344 rats (n=20) were randomly assigned to one of two diets for as long as 10 weeks: (1) walnut (W), and (2) replacement ® in which the fat, fiber, and protein in walnuts were matched with corn oil, protein casein, and a cellulose fiber source. Intestinal samples were collected from the descending colon, the DNA isolated, and the V3-V4 hypervariable region of 16S rRNA gene deep sequenced on an Illumina MiSeq for characterization of the gut microbiota. Body weight and food intake did not differ significantly between the two diet groups. The diet groups had distinct microbial communities with animals consuming walnuts displaying significantly greater species diversity. Walnuts increased the abundance of Firmicutes and reduced the abundance of Bacteriodetes. Walnuts enriched the microbiota for probiotic-type bacteria including Lactobacillus, Ruminococcaceae, and Roseburia while significantly reducing Bacteroides and Anaerotruncus. The class Alphaproteobacteria was also reduced. Walnut consumption altered the gut microbial community suggesting a new mechanism by which walnuts may confer their beneficial health effects.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Microbiology, Ribosomal RNA, Omega-3 fatty acid, 16S ribosomal RNA


Gluten exclusion (protein complex present in many cereals) has been proposed as an option for the prevention of diseases other than coeliac disease. However, the effects of gluten-free diets on obesity and its mechanisms of action have not been studied. Thus, our objective was to assess whether gluten exclusion can prevent adipose tissue expansion and its consequences. C57BL/6 mice were fed a high-fat diet containing 4.5% gluten (Control) or no gluten (GF). Body weight and adiposity gains, leukocyte rolling and adhesion, macrophage infiltration and cytokine production in adipose tissue were assessed. Blood lipid profiles, glycaemia, insulin resistance and adipokines were measured. Expression of the PPAR-α and γ, lipoprotein lipase (LPL), hormone sensitive lipase (HSL), carnitine palmitoyl acyltransferase-1 (CPT-1), insulin receptor, GLUT-4 and adipokines were assessed in epidydimal fat. Gluten-free animals showed a reduction in body weight gain and adiposity, without changes in food intake or lipid excretion. These results were associated with up-regulation of PPAR-α, LPL, HSL and CPT-1, which are related to lipolysis and fatty acid oxidation. There was an improvement in glucose homeostasis and pro-inflammatory profile-related overexpression of PPAR-γ. Moreover, intravital microscopy showed a lower number of adhered cells in the adipose tissue microvasculature. The overexpression of PPAR-γ is related to the increase of adiponectin and GLUT-4. Our data support the beneficial effects of gluten-free diets in reducing adiposity gain, inflammation and insulin resistance. The data suggests that diet gluten exclusion should be tested as a new dietary approach to prevent the development of obesity and metabolic disorders.

Concepts: Protein, Metabolism, Nutrition, Obesity, Fat, Insulin resistance, Adipose tissue, Gluten-free diet


Marine-derived n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have been shown to inhibit mammary carcinogenesis. However, evidence regarding plant-based α-linolenic acid (ALA), the major n-3 PUFA in the Western diet, remains equivocal. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of lifelong exposure to plant- or marine-derived n-3 PUFAs on pubertal mammary gland and tumor development in MMTV-neu(ndl)-YD5 mice. It is hypothesized that lifelong exposure to n-3 PUFA reduces terminal end buds during puberty leading to delayed tumor onset, volume and multiplicity. It is further hypothesized that plant-derived n-3 PUFAs will exert dose-dependent effects. Harems of MMTV-FVB males were bred with wild-type females and fed either a (1) 10% safflower (10% SF, n-6 PUFA, control), (2) 10% flaxseed (10% FS), (3) 7% safflower plus 3% flaxseed (3% FS) or (4) 7% safflower plus 3% menhaden (3% FO) diet. Female offspring were maintained on parental diets. Compared to SF, 10% FS and 3% FO reduced (P<.05) terminal end buds at 6 weeks and tumor volume and multiplicity at 20 weeks. A dose-dependent reduction of tumor volume and multiplicity was observed in mice fed 3% and 10% FS. Antitumorigenic effects were associated with altered HER2, pHER-2, pAkt and Ki-67 protein expression. Compared to 10% SF, 3% FO significantly down-regulated expression of genes involved in eicosanoid synthesis and inflammation. From this, it can be estimated that ALA was 1/8 as potent as EPA+DHA. Thus, marine-derived n-3 PUFAs have greater potency versus plant-based n-3 PUFAs.


Green tea catechins have been hypothesized to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation by inhibiting catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) and thus promoting more sustained adrenergic stimulation. Metabolomics may help to clarify the mechanisms underlying their putative physiological effects.

Concepts: Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Antioxidant, Catechin, Camellia sinensis, Green tea, Epigallocatechin gallate, Green tea extract


Serum polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in Anniston, AL, residents have been associated with hypertension and diabetes. There have been no systematic interventions to reduce PCB body burdens in Anniston or other populations. Our objective was to determine the efficacy of 15 g/day of dietary olestra to reduce PCBs in Anniston residents. Blood PCBs and 1,1-bis-(4-chlorophenyl)-2,2-dichloroethene were measured at baseline and 4-month intervals in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, 1-year trial. Participants with elevated serum PCBs were randomized into two groups of 14 and received potato crisps made with olestra or vegetable oil (VO). Elimination rates during the study period were compared with 5-year prestudy rates. Eleven participants in the olestra group and 12 in the VO group completed the study. Except for one participant in the VO group, reasons for dropout were unrelated to treatments. The elimination rate of 37 non-coplanar PCB congeners during the 1-year trial was faster during olestra consumption compared to the pretrial period (-0.0829±0.0357 and -0.00864±0.0116 year(-1), respectively; P=.04), but not during VO consumption (-0.0413±0.0408 and -0.0283±0.0096 year(-1), respectively; P=.27). The concentration of PCBs in two olestra group participants decreased by 27% and 25% during the trial. There was no significant time by group interaction in change from baseline. However, group main effects for total PCBs and PCB 153 were of borderline significance. This pilot study has demonstrated that olestra can safely reduce body burdens of PCBs and supports a larger intervention trial that may also determine whether reduction in PCBs will reduce the risk of hypertension and diabetes.

Concepts: Randomized controlled trial, Polychlorinated biphenyl, PCB Congener List, Biphenyl, Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins, Chloracne, Potato chip, Olestra


Lecithin/cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) is responsible for the esterification of the free cholesterol of plasma lipoproteins. Here, we investigated the involvement of LCAT in mechanisms associated with diet-induced hepatic triglyceride accumulation in mice. LCAT-deficient (LCAT) and control C57BL/6 mice were placed on a Western-type diet (17.3% protein, 48.5% carbohydrate, 21.2% fat, 0.2% cholesterol, 4.5kcal/g) for 24weeks, then histopathological and biochemical analyses were performed. We report that, in our experimental setup, male LCAT mice are characterized by increased diet-induced hepatic triglyceride deposition and impaired hepatic histology and architecture. Mechanistic analyses indicated that LCAT deficiency was associated with enhanced intestinal absorption of dietary triglycerides (3.6±0.5mg/dl per minute for LCAT vs. 2.0±0.7mg/dl per minute for C57BL/6 mice; P<.05), accelerated clearance of postprandial triglycerides and a reduced rate of hepatic very low density lipoprotein triglyceride secretion (9.8±1.1mg/dl per minute for LCAT vs. 12.5±1.3mg/dl per minute for C57BL/6 mice, P<.05). No statistical difference in the average daily food consumption between mouse strains was observed. Adenovirus-mediated gene transfer of LCAT in LCAT mice that were fed a Western-type diet for 12weeks resulted in a significant reduction in hepatic triglyceride content (121.2±5.9mg/g for control infected mice vs. 95.1±5.8mg/g for mice infected with Ad-LCAT, P<.05) and a great improvement of hepatic histology and architecture. Our data extend the current knowledge on the functions of LCAT, indicating that LCAT activity is an important modulator of processes associated with diet-induced hepatic lipid deposition.

Concepts: Cholesterol, Metabolism, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Atheroma, Triglyceride, High-density lipoprotein, Lipid


Quercetin, a naturally occurring flavonoid, has been reported to possess numerous biological activities including activation of adenosine-5'-monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK). We investigated the effects of quercetin intake during lactation on the AMPK activation in the livers of adult offspring programmed by maternal protein restriction during gestation. Pregnant Wistar rats were fed control and low-protein diets during gestation. Following delivery, each dam received a control or 0.2% quercetin-containing control diet during lactation as follows: control on control (CC), control on restricted (LPC) and 0.2% quercetin-containing control on restricted (LPQ). At weaning (week 3), some of the pups from each dam were killed, and the remaining pups (CC, n=8; LPC, n=10; LPQ, n=13) continued to receive a standard laboratory diet and were killed at week 23. Blood chemistry and phosphorylation levels of AMPKα, acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC), endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) in the livers of male offspring were examined. At week 3, the level of phosphorylated AMPK protein in LPQ increased about 1.5- and 2.1-fold compared with LPC and CC, respectively, and the level in LPQ at week 23 increased about 1.9- and 2.9-fold, respectively. A significant increase in phosphorylated ACC and eNOS levels was found in LPQ. There was no significant difference among the three groups in the level of phosphorylated mTOR protein. In conclusion, quercetin intake during lactation up-regulates AMPK activation in the adult offspring of protein-restricted dams and modulates the AMPK pathway in the liver.

Concepts: Reproduction, Signal transduction, Adenosine triphosphate, Kinase, Nitric oxide, Nitric oxide synthase, AMP-activated protein kinase, Acetyl-CoA carboxylase


Extracts from leaves, peels or flowers of Passiflora are noted for their medicinal effects. Passiflora edulis peel extract (PFPE) has been proposed to lower blood pressure (BP); however, only indirect measurement techniques have been employed. To more accurately measure the effect of PFPE on hemodynamic parameters and determine the minimal effective dose, hemodynamic parameters were directly measured in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) implanted with radiotelemeters. PFPE was given orally at 0, 2.5, 50 or 200 mg/kg body weight (BW) to determine the minimal effective dose. Once this dose was determined, the potential active components, edulilic acid (EA), anthocyanin fraction (AF) or γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), were tested to determine which may contribute to the reductions in BP. The 50 mg PFPE/kg BW dose was the lowest dose that significantly reduced all hemodynamic parameters from baseline when compared to control. When the potential actives were provided at equivalent doses to those found in 50 mg PFPE/kg BW, the EA and AF significantly reduced all measured hemodynamic parameters from baseline when compared to control. GABA did not significantly affect any hemodynamic parameters compared to control and significantly increased heart rate. These direct measurements indicate that PFPE can decrease hemodynamic parameters in SHR and indicate that EA and AF are active compounds that contribute to the antihypertensive effects of PFPE supplementation. While these results are encouraging, detailed mechanistic studies are needed to determine the putative value of PFPE for blood pressure control in humans.

Concepts: Effect, Measurement, Blood pressure, Effectiveness, Affect, Passiflora, Passiflora edulis, Passion flower


Dietary trans-fats are strongly associated with heart disease. However, the capacity for the tissues of the body, and specifically the heart, to take up trans-fats is unknown. It is also unknown if different trans-fats have different uptake capacities in the heart and other tissues of the body. Diets of low-density lipoprotein receptor-deficient mice were supplemented for 14weeks with foods that contained 1.5% of the trans-fat elaidic acid or vaccenic acid. Tissues were extracted and frozen in liquid nitrogen, and then lipids were analyzed by gas chromatography for fatty acid content. Isolated cardiomyocytes were also exposed to elaidic or vaccenic acid in cell culture media for 24h. Dietary supplementation with vaccenic or elaidic acid resulted in a 20-fold higher accumulation of these TFAs in fat deposits in the body in comparison to liver. Liver tissue accumulated about twice as much per gram tissue as heart. Similar quantities of both elaidic acid and vaccenic acid were taken up by the tissues. Isolated cardiomyocytes exhibited an unusually large uptake of trans-fat, and this was dependent upon both the concentration and duration of exposure to the trans-fats but not upon the type of trans-fat. Expression levels of CD36 and FATP4 were not significantly changed during dietary interventions or exposure of cells to trans-fats. We conclude that fat, liver and heart (including cardiomyocytes) are all capable of accumulating trans-fat in response to dietary supplementation without changes in fatty acid transport protein expression.

Concepts: Cholesterol, Protein, Nutrition, Fatty acids, Fat, Lipid, Saturated fat, Trans fat


The detection of exogenous plant microRNAs in human/animal plasma/sera lies at the foundation of exploring their cross-kingdom regulatory functions. It is necessary to establish a standard operation procedure to promote study in this nascent field. In this study, 18 plant miRNAs were assessed in watermelon juice and mixed fruits by quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). CT values, no-template controls and standard curves for each miRNA were used to evaluate the specificity and sensitivity of qRT-PCR and to obtain concentrations. Sixteen miRNAs were selected and measured in human plasma from volunteers after drinking juice. The CT values of 6 plant miRNAs in human plasma fell outside the linear ranges of their standard curves. The remaining 10 miRNAs were present at high basal levels, and 6 of them showed a dynamic physiological pattern in plasma (absorption rates of 0.04% to 1.31%). Northern blotting was used to confirm the qRT-PCR results. Critical issues such as RNA extraction and internal controls were also addressed.

Concepts: DNA, Polymerase chain reaction, Molecular biology, RNA, MicroRNA, Reverse transcriptase, DNA polymerase, Laboratory techniques