Paper: Enzyme that digests vitamin A also may regulate testosterone levels

Editor’s note:  To contact Joshua W. Smith, email joshuasmith@jhu.edu

To contact John Erdman, email jwerdman@illinois.edu

The paper “Mice lacking B-carotene-15,15’-dioxygenase (BCO1) exhibit reduced serum testosterone, prostatic androgen receptor signaling, and prostatic cellular proliferation” is available online from the publisher or from the News Bureau.

Original story posted here: 
https://news.illinois.edu/blog/view/6367/437718 

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Scientists identify genes that disrupt response to breast cancer treatment

Editor’s notes: To reach Zeynep Madak-Erdogan, call 217-300-9063; email  zmadake2@illinois.edu

The study “Era-XPO1 crosstalk controls tamoxifen sensitivity in tumors by altering ERK5 cellular localization” is available online from the journal Molecular Endocrinology or from the News Bureau.

Original story posted here:
https://news.illinois.edu/blog/view/6367/404190 

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Study confirms long-term effects of ‘chemobrain’ in mice

Editor’s notes:

To reach Catarina Rendeiro, email acnr@illinois.edu.

To reach Justin Rhodes, call 217-265-0021; email jrhodes@illinois.edu.

To reach William Helferich, call 217-244-5414; email helferic@illinois.edu.

The paper “Long-lasting impairments in adult neurogenesis, spatial learning and memory from a standard chemotherapy regimen used to treat breast cancer” is available online and from the News Bureau.

DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2016.07.043

Original story posted here:
https://illinois.edu/blog/view/6367/396468

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Berry wine, minus the alcohol, may offer help for those with diabetes

URBANA, Ill. – Blueberries, and berries in general, are among foods labeled as “diabetes superfoods” by the American Association of Diabetes. Food science researchers at the University of Illinois have found that fermenting berries may improve their antidiabetic potential even more.

Recent research at the U of I includes the development of an alcohol-free blueberry-blackberry “wine” that those suffering from diabetes—who typically must avoid alcohol—can enjoy, while potentially reducing the effects of Type 2 diabetes.

“Unfortunately the number of people with diabetes is increasing astronomically around the world,” says Elvira de Mejia, a food chemist in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at U of I. “There are 100 million people around the world who have diabetes and that is increasing, without counting the ones who may be pre-diabetic and not know it.”

Previous research has shown that dietary blueberries may play a role in reducing hyperglycemia in obese mice, therefore de Mejia and colleagues wanted to determine if a fermented, dealcoholized blueberry-blackberry beverage would enhance the potential of the phenolic compounds in the berries that are responsible for reducing diabetic markers.

A new study shows that the fermented berry beverage did reduce the development of obesity and blood glucose levels in mice on a high-fat diet.

The researchers had already determined that the berries, when fermented at low temperatures, resulted in an improved and higher concentration of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins, found in the pigments of fruits such as blueberries, grapes, and apples, have been shown to promote insulin sensitivity, decrease blood glucose levels in the blood, and enhance insulin secretion.

“We know that fruits, vegetables, cereals, legumes, and berries are good, but here we explain that after fermentation we improve and increase the concentration of these pigments [anthocyanins] and they are very high antioxidant components that benefit the body,” de Mejia says.

A previous cell culture study with the alcohol-free blueberry-blackberry wine, showed good results toward inhibiting enzymes related to glucose absorption.

“In this in vivo study, as we increased the concentration of these anthocyanin-enriched extractions from blueberries and blackberries we saw an improvement in the uptake of glucose, meaning that the animals with the increased concentration were not as much in a state of hyperglycemia as the other animals.”

The beverage included a ratio of 70 percent fermented blackberries to 30 percent fermented blueberries. The berries were collected from varieties grown at U of I’s Dixon Springs Agricultural Research Station in southern Illinois. Alcohol was removed from the beverage by rotoevaporation and was replaced with water. Some of the sugars left over after fermentation were also removed in the process.

“We optimized the best ratio between blueberries and blackberries. Blackberries are very unique and I think that’s one of the reasons why we selected a high concentration of them in this study. Blackberries have a very specific profile of anthocyanins, and that was amazing at lowering the absorption of glucose in this case,” de Mejia says.

During the study, groups of mice with diet-induced obesity and hyperglycemia were given the fermented berry beverage or the beverage with higher or lower enriched concentrations of the anthocyanins (0.1x, 1x, or 2x). Another group was given sitagliptin, a commonly used medication for diabetes, and another group was given water only. All groups ate the same diet, calories, and amount of sugars otherwise.

While benefits were seen in all groups drinking the fermented beverage, de Mejia says the group on the highest concentration of anthocyanins (2x) showed the greatest results, comparable to what was observed in the group on sitagliptin. This included no increase in body weight, which de Mejia says was a surprise.

“That was not our objective really, we were just looking for markers of diabetes,” she says. “But it was very impressive to see.”

The researchers also observed that glucose was deposited into tissue more than absorbed by and present in the blood, as well. “You want to avoid high glucose in the blood stream, and you want uptake into muscle, liver, and organs, and to keep the level in plasma and blood normal. We saw a reduction of glucose in the blood with the beverage, even in the beverage before it was enhanced,” de Mejia says.

They also saw an effect on oxidative stress in the obese mice.  “We saw that in the animals on 2x the enriched anthocyanins, the oxidative species went down, meaning they were kind of protected against oxidation. From that stand point, it was very positive looking at the oxidative stress of the animals because that can damage protein and DNA.”

Regarding the mechanism of action in reducing the diabetic effects, de Mejia says that the antioxidant power of the anthocyanins plays a very important role. “Markers of inflammation went down too. That’s very, very, important. They are correlated. With obesity, less fat means less inflammation, and less oxidative stress. I think it is more toward that pathway of lowering oxidative stress and inflammation and lowering fat.  It was very surprising to us,” she adds.

Producing this berry wine, complete with the benefits of fermentation but without the alcohol, provides an opportunity for wine makers, de Mejia says.

“There are some bigger wineries/companies that are producing dealcoholized wine for diabetics, but from grapes. It is available in California, for example.  I think the novelty of this work is mainly the combination of the blackberries and blueberries and the concentration of anthocyanins as part of the pigment. But it is perfectly doable and I hope that companies can see that there is a market. And it’s delicious,” she adds.

While the berry wine may not be able to replace medications for diabetics, de Mejia says it could help reduce the amount of medication needed; always under the doctor’s supervision and approval.

“There needs to be more studies to see how the anthocyanins work in the presence of medication, to see if they work synergistically, for example. Then, maybe, you could decrease the amount of the drug. All of these drugs for diabetes have adverse effects after so many years of use, even the safest ones.

“We need to consider diet, exercise, lowering body weight, and all the different strategies that the American Association of Diabetes recommends, and maybe in the long run, of course with approval of a physician, you could decrease the level of the drug to keep glucose under control.”

“Alcohol-free fermented blueberry-blackberry beverage phenolic extract attenuates diet-induced obesity and blood glucose in C57BL/6J mice” is published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. Co-authors include Michelle H. Johnson, Matthew Wallig, Diego A. Luna Vital, and Elvira G de Mejia. The paper can be accessed online athttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jnutbio.2015.12.013.

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Industries and researchers join to improve manufacturing drying processes

URBANA, Ill. – One of the most energy-intensive stages in manufacturing paper, food, textiles, chemicals, and many other products is drying. Researchers from two colleges at the University of Illinois are working together to find more efficient and environmentally sustainable drying alternatives through a new research center, an effort sponsored by the National Science Foundation through its Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers program.

The new Center for Advanced Research in Drying is a joint effort between the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and is led by Jamal Yagoobi from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Hao Feng, a food science researcher in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at Illinois, will serve as the Urbana-Champaign campus site director for the center.

“The drying process has a direct effect on product quality, from the nutritional value of food to the durability of paper products and textiles,” says Feng. “Inefficient drying processes also create a significant environmental impact. By working to improve the drying process, we can enable production of products with better quality, speed up the delivery of products, and increase manufacturers’ profit margin so everyone benefits, and we can reduce its adverse effects on the environment.”

Irfan Ahmad, from U of I’s College of Engineering, is co-principal investigator/co-site and innovation director of the center. Ahmad is also executive director at the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, and a research faculty member in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

“Innovation is at the heart of CARD to address such challenges as energy conservation, climate change, product safety and quality, using novel technologies such as micro and nanotechnology-based smart sensors and drying nozzles,” says Ahmad. “It also envisages new engineering education programs to nurture innovation in drying as a vital core competency for the next generation workforce.”

As defined by NSF’s I/UCRC program, the center must demonstrate measureable industry collaboration and involvement that accelerates fundamental research. Evidence of industry-defined fundamental research must show that the proposed industry participation extends the center’s capabilities into areas or projects that might not otherwise be researched.

NSF provides a framework for industries, universities, and the government to join together to solve problems that require a multi-disciplinary effort such as this one. Over 30 industry, organization, and government partners have shared their enthusiasm and financial support for the center’s research on drying.

It is the first center in the United States dedicated to developing energy-efficient technologies for drying moist, porous materials, a problem affecting the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers across a wide range of industries. The center is one of three NSF I/UCRC centers led or co-led by University of Illinois researchers.

“Innovative drying technologies are critical to advanced, sustainable manufacturing technologies. Numerous challenges remain to be tackled with tangible academia-industry interaction such as CARD. I am sure CARD will play a leadership role in making a definitive contribution to the national and global effort in this field”, says Arun Majumdar, editor-in-chief of Drying Technology, and emeritus professor of bioresource engineering at McGill University in Canada.

For more information, visit the Center for Advanced Research in Drying.

Original story published here:

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Study shows broccoli may offer protection against liver cancer

URBANA, Ill. – Consumption of broccoli has increased in the United States over the last few decades as scientists have reported that eating the vegetable three to five times per week can lower the risk of many types of cancer including breast, prostate, and colon cancers.

A new study from the University of Illinois reports that including broccoli in the diet may also protect against liver cancer, as well as aid in countering the development of fatty liver or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) which can cause malfunction of the liver and lead to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a liver cancer with a high mortality rate.

“The normal story about broccoli and health is that it can protect against a number of different cancers. But nobody had looked at liver cancer,” says Elizabeth Jeffery, a U of I emeritus professor of nutrition. “We decided that liver cancer needed to be studied particularly because of the obesity epidemic in the U.S. It is already in the literature that obesity enhances the risk for liver cancer and this is particularly true for men. They have almost a 5-fold greater risk for liver cancer if they are obese.”

Jeffery says that the majority of the U.S. population eats a diet high in saturated fats and added sugars. However, both of these are stored in the liver and can be converted to body fat. Consuming a high-fat, high-sugar diet and having excess body fat is linked with the development of NAFLD, which can lead to diseases such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.

“We called this a Westernized-style diet in the study because we wanted to model how so many of us are eating today,” Jeffery says.

Previous research suggests that broccoli, a brassica vegetable containing bioactive compounds, may impede the accumulation of fat in the liver and protect against NAFLD in mice. Therefore, Jeffery and her team wanted to find out the impact of feeding broccoli to mice with a known liver cancer-causing carcinogen. The researchers studied four groups of mice; some of which were on a control diet or the Westernized diet, and some were given or not given broccoli.

“We wanted to look at this liver carcinogen in mice that were either obese or not obese,” Jeffery explains. “We did not do it using a genetic strain of obese mice, but mice that became obese the way that people do, by eating a high-fat, high-sugar diet.”

Although the researchers were predominantly interested in broccoli’s impact on the formation and progression of cancerous tumors in the liver, Jeffery explained that they also wanted to observe the health of the liver and how the liver was metabolizing lipids because of the high-fat diet. “There is almost no information about broccoli and high-fat associated diseases,” she says.

The study shows that in mice on the Westernized diet both the number of cancer nodules and the size of the cancer nodules increased in the liver. But when broccoli was added to the diet, the number of nodules decreased. Size was not affected.

“That was what we really set out to show,” Jeffery says. “But on top of that we were looking at the liver health. There are actually two ways of getting fatty liver; one, by eating a high-fat, high-sugar diet and the other by drinking too much alcohol. In this case, it is called non-alcoholic fatty liver, because we didn’t use the alcohol. And it is something that is becoming prevalent among Americans. This disease means you are no longer controlling the amount of fat that is accumulating in your liver.”

With NAFLD, lipid globules form on the liver. During the study, the researchers observed these globules in the livers of the mice on the Westernized diet.

“We found that the Westernized diet did increase fatty liver, but we saw that the broccoli protected against it. Broccoli stopped too much uptake of fat into the liver by decreasing the uptake and increasing the output of lipid from the liver,” she says.

Jeffery notes that adding broccoli to the diet of the mice did not make them “thin,” or affect their body weight, but it did bring the liver under control, ultimately making them healthier. “This is one of the things that makes this very exciting for us,” she says.

“I think it’s very difficult, particularly given the choices in fast food restaurants, for everybody to eat a lower-fat diet. But more and more now you can get broccoli almost everywhere you go. Most restaurants will offer broccoli, and it’s really a good idea to have it with your meal,” Jeffery adds.

Jeffery’s previous research shows that eating broccoli freshly chopped or lightly steamed is the best way to get to the vegetables’ cancer-fighting compound, sulforaphane.

Although the researchers only used broccoli in the study, Jeffery adds that other brassica vegetables, such as cauliflower or Brussel sprouts, may have the same effect.

“Dietary broccoli lessens development of fatty liver and liver cancer in mice given diethylnitrosamine and fed a Western or control diet,” is published in the Journal of Nutrition. Co-authors include Yung-Ju Chen, previously of the U of I, and Matthew Wallig and Elizabeth Jeffery of the U of I.

Funding was provided by the National Cancer Institute (National Institutes of Health).

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3D micro X-ray images help answer questions about fried foods’ internal structure

3D solid network image of pores formed in a potato during frying. Image courtesy of Pawan Takhar.

URBANA, Ill. – What happens to food and its microstructure when it is fried is a complicated process, both scientifically and mathematically speaking. While consumers want a product that is crispy and tasty, food scientists seek to get a closer glimpse into what exactly is going on inside the food during frying in order to improve products.

Particularly, Pawan Takhar, a University of Illinois food scientist, is interested in the food’s uptake of oil during frying and how that oil gets distributed throughout the food. “Through conventional lab techniques we can already see how much oil content is in food material, but we didn’t know how it gets distributed throughout the material,” he says.

To understand the distribution of oil better, Takhar and his lab recently conducted a study using X-ray micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) to gain 3D images of the microstructure of fried potato disks after they had been fried for various lengths of time.

During deep frying, as food is immersed in hot oil, water in that food quickly evaporates and steam pressure builds. This pressure affects the microstructure, including the porosity—the number and size of pores in the food—as well as the twistiness of the pathways between those pores (tortuosity). This determines how and how much oil gets taken up into the food.

For the study, russet potatoes cut into disks that were 45-mm in diameter and 1.65 mm thick were fried at 190 degrees Celsius for 20, 40, 60, or 80 seconds, freeze dried, and scanned.

Takhar says about 986 2D images of the potato samples were collected and then combined to produce 3D images. Using the 3D images, they were able to gain more information about the pores and pore networks in the material.

The researchers observed that as frying time increased, pore size increased, allowing for greater uptake of oil. They also saw a correlation between oil content and how the network of pathways between the pores changed throughout the frying time. These pathways act like channels for water and vapor flow and oil penetration in the food.

“As you fry the material, you can see how those pore structures are forming,” Takhar says. “We found that in the beginning of frying, the pore network is very complicated. The waviness in the pathway, the tortuosity, is very complex in the beginning so the material resists oil penetration. But as the frying progresses, those pathways become simpler. Pores open up and are easily accessible from the outside and oil can be taken up.”

Takhar also explains that oil was observed distributed across the full thickness of the potato disks. In thicker materials with lots of moisture (like chicken nuggets and French fries), they have observed the oil to remain near the surface as continuous evaporation helps to resist oil penetration.

“It is not easy to make a product that has no oil and still provides taste, flavor and texture that consumers enjoy,” he says. “People like that fried flavor and the texture of crispiness outside and softness inside. At the same time you want to reduce the oil content to make the food healthier. With this network study we wanted to see how those networks are formed, because networks are also related to texture.” It’s a combination of the oil content and air pockets in the pore structure that provide the desired crispy texture.

The findings from the potato disks in the study can also be applied to other fried foods, Takhar says. His lab has done previous research on frying using chicken nuggets and French fries.

While Takhar and his lab have done mathematical modeling of what happens during frying—just one previous paper outlines over 100 mathematical equations involved in the process—he says this study provides some experimental validation as to what is happening inside the food material.

“I would say we still only understand about 10 percent of what is taking place during frying,” says Takhar. He and his lab have studied the effects of frying for 10 years. “For an engineer or a food scientist, it’s the ultimate problem because it’s so complicated.

“Our aim is to make these products healthier, so that they have the same taste and texture but, at the same time, have lower fat content. That is our long-term goal with our research,” Takhar says.

“Microstructural characterization of fried potato disks using X-Ray micro computed tomography,” is published in the Journal of Food Science and can be found online athttp://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1750-3841.13219 Co-authors are Tanjila Alam, formerly a graduate student at the University of Illinois, and Pawan S. Takhar of the University of Illinois.

Funding was provided by USDA-NIFA.

The researchers acknowledge Beckman Institute at University of Illinois for providing assistance with the micro CT scanning experiments.

News Source:

Pawan Takhar, 217-300-0486

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Graphical display of nutrition information helps keep health-conscious eaters on target

URBANA, Ill. – Diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease can often be prevented or treated by managing the intake of certain nutrients. However, in a time-constrained situation, such as standing in line at a cafeteria or restaurant, it can be difficult for consumers to quickly calculate and use numerical nutrition information—beyond the amount of calories—provided for menu items.

A new study from the University of Illinois found that when consumers are shown a graphical display of select nutrients on a 2-dimensional plot when ordering in a café setting, they purchase healthier, not just lower-calorie, menu items as a meal.

Manabu T. Nakamura, an associate professor of nutrition at U of I, said understanding how to best present nutrition information is an important, new area of research for him and his lab. “We have researched how fats or carbs metabolize and are regulated, for example. Based on this kind of research, the message of what nutrients we should eat is pretty set. The important thing is learning how you select the right foods. We need to provide a way to communicate what foods to select for certain health problems.

“Current nutrition labels provide comprehensive nutrient information, but unfortunately they’re not working for consumers to help them make decisions in restaurants and grocery stores,” he said.

As part of the Affordable Care Act, chain restaurants and retail food establishments with 20 or more locations are required to provide nutrition information for menu items. But Nakamura said most people, except those who have specific health concerns or food allergies, don’t ask to see this information or don’t know how to use the information provided.

Previous research has been done showing that a “traffic light” labeling system in which menu items are designated as green, yellow, or red based on calories had some effect on diners’ choice of foods. But Nakamura explained that even that system had no effect on consumers’ purchases when multiple nutrients are color coded.

In order to see if presenting the nutrition information graphically would change diners’ purchasing behavior, Nakamura, along with doctoral student, Nathan Pratt, and a team of other researchers set up two experiments using a visual, 2-dimensional plot showing the values of fiber and protein per calorie for each menu item. The graph also includes a target box that represents the recommended dietary amounts of those nutrients per calorie of food.

The researchers chose to plot fiber and protein per calorie values because these two nutrients are closely tied to weight management. Fiber has been linked to greater satiety and lean protein has been linked to improving body fat loss. “Promoting fiber intake is important. It could help in preventing overeating. Only 10 percent of the U.S. population meets the fiber recommendation. So there’s a long way to go.”

“Most people would agree that these are two nutrients most relevant for managing weight,” Nakamura said. “Of course sodium, saturated fat, and all vitamins and minerals are also important for overall health. But we had to limit the number of nutrients in order to have an impact on decision making in a time-constrained condition.”

He added that other combinations of nutrients, depending on specific dietary needs, could also be plotted using the graph.

The team began with an experiment to see how well participants could recall nutrition information when shown the information for foods either using the 2-dimensional graph or numerical information. The participants were then asked to recall the information. Recall accuracy improved by up to 43 percent when they were shown the information graphically versus numerically.

The second experiment was a 12-week study of purchasing behavior in U of I’s Bevier Café. In this setting customers stand in line to order and pay for their food at registers near the entrance of the café.

During some weeks of the study, menu items were plotted either on the 2-dimensional graph according to their fiber, protein, saturated fat, and sodium per calorie values with the information signposted where customers could see before ordering, or other weeks, nutrition information was displayed numerically. Facts about managing a healthy weight, such as keeping calories in a healthy range, limiting saturated fat and sodium, and increasing fiber and protein was also signposted near where food was ordered.

How did having a visual target to shoot for when ordering a meal work for consumers?

Ultimately, when nutrition information was provided on the 2-dimensional graph, consumers purchased fewer calories, but purchased more protein per calorie and more items that were rated high as healthy on the plot. Nakamura calls this a “clear success.”

“This may be the first study that shows unambiguous purchasing changes from displaying the nutrition information,” he said.

During the weeks in which nutrition information was displayed graphically, calories purchased from entrees decreased by 10 percent compared to when no information was displayed, and decreased by 13 percent compared to when numerical information was provided. During the graphical stage, calories from side items purchased decreased from 43 percent compared to when no label was displayed, and 47 percent from the numerical stage.

Protein per calorie increased by nearly 24 percent when the graph was present compared to when no nutrition label was provided, and 20 percent from the numerical stage.

“If you are looking at just calories when choosing food, that’s not enough. If you stop eating something, you can certainly reduce calorie intake. But the important thing is that you when you make your meal healthy, it’s not just about calories, you have to think about other nutrients, too,” Nakamura said. “In terms of weight maintenance, you can reduce calories but increase the protein per calorie and the same with fiber, a fiber per calorie increase. These two things have to be maintained or it’s a bad diet that you can’t maintain.”

In the future, the researchers hope the graph can be used to present nutrition information in restaurants, grocery stores, and dining halls, as well as in households for recipe analysis. Nakamura said future studies on this graphical method may look at more diverse populations, menus that offer a greater variety in fiber offerings, and more nutrient combinations.

Another possibility Nakamura is excited about is the possibility of creating mobile apps with the graph that consumers can use to plot nutrients in menu items as they order during time-constrained situations.

“We are hoping this system can be quickly understood and can provide the information needed to make a decision,” Nakamura said.

“Improvements in recall and food choices using a graphical method to deliver information of select nutrients” was published in Nutrition Research. Co-authors include Nathan S. Pratt, Brenna D. Ellison, Aaron S. Benjamin, and Manabu T. Nakamura, all of the University of Illinois.

The authors acknowledge the Bevier Café for hosting the study.

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In new study, Illinois scientists trace activity of cancer-fighting tomato component

URBANA, Ill. – Years of research in University of Illinois scientist John Erdman’s laboratory have demonstrated that lycopene, the bioactive red pigment found in tomatoes, reduces growth of prostate tumors in a variety of animal models. Until now, though, he did not have a way to trace lycopene’s metabolism in the human body.

“Our team has learned to grow tomato plants in suspension culture that produce lycopene molecules with a heavier molecular weight. With this tool, we can trace lycopene’s absorption, biodistribution, and metabolism in the body of healthy adults. In the future, we will be able to conduct such studies in men who have prostate cancer and gain important information about this plant component’s anti-cancer activity,” said John W. Erdman Jr., a U of I emeritus professor of nutrition.

The U of I team began developing the tomato cultures that would yield heavier, traceable carbon molecules about 10 years ago. Erdman, doctoral student Nancy Engelmann, and “plant gurus” Randy Rogers and Mary Ann Lila first learned to optimize the production of lycopene in tomato cell cultures. They then grew the best lycopene producers with non-radioactive carbon-13 sugars, allowing carbon-13 to be incorporated into the lycopene molecules. Because most carbon in nature is carbon-12, the lycopene containing heavier carbon atoms is easy to follow in the body.

Soon after the carbon-13 technology was established, Engelmann, now Moran, took a postdoctoral research position at Ohio State University in the lab of medical oncologist Steven K. Clinton, and scientists at Illinois and Ohio State initiated human trials.

In this first study, the team followed lycopene activity in the blood of eight persons by feeding them lycopene labeled with the non-radioactive carbon-13. The researchers then drew blood hourly for 10 hours after dosing and followed with additional blood draws 1, 3, and 28 days later.

“The results provide novel information about absorption efficiency and how quickly lycopene is lost from the body. We determined its half-life in the body and now understand that the structural changes occur after the lycopene is absorbed,” Erdman explained.

“Most tomato lycopene that we eat exists as the all-trans isomer, a rigid and straight form, but in the bodies of regular tomato consumers, most lycopene exists as cis isomers, which tend to be bent and flexible. Because cis-lycopene is the form most often found in the body, some investigators think it may be the form responsible for disease risk reduction,” Moran explained.

“We wanted to understand why there is more cis-lycopene in the body, and by mathematically modeling our patients’ blood carbon-13 lycopene concentration data, we found that it is likely due to a conversion of all-trans to cis lycopene, which occurs soon after we absorb lycopene from our food,” she added.

The plant biofactories that produce the heavier, traceable lycopene are now being used to produce heavier versions of other bioactive food components. In another trial, phytoene, a second carbon-13–labeled tomato bioactive molecule, has been produced and tested in four human subjects.

“Our most recent project involves producing a heavy carbon version of lutein, found in green leafy vegetables and egg yolks. Lutein is known to be important for eye and brain health. In this case, we began with carrot suspension cultures and have already produced small quantities of ‘heavy-labeled’ lutein for animal trials,” Rogers said.

Right now, though, the Illinois–Ohio State team is excited about the new information the lycopene study has yielded. “In the future, these new techniques could help us to better understand how lycopene reduces prostate cancer risk and severity. We will be able to develop evidence-based dietary recommendations for prostate cancer prevention,” Erdman said.

This new journal article represents the most thorough study of lycopene metabolism that has been done to date, he added.

“Compartmental and non-compartmental modeling of ¹³C-lycopene absorption, isomerization, and distribution kinetics in healthy adults” appears pre-publication online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Authors are Nancy E. Moran, Morgan J. Cichon, Elizabeth M. Grainger, Steven J. Schwartz, Kenneth M. Riedl, and Steven K. Clinton of The Ohio State University; Janet A. Novotny of the USDA’s Human Nutrition Research Center; and John W. Erdman Jr. of the University of Illinois. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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Maternal protein deficiency during pregnancy ‘memorized’ by fetal muscle cells


Editor’s notes: To reach Huan Wang, call 217-417-8655; email wang327@illinois.edu.

To reach Yuan-Xiang Pan, call 217-333-3466; email yxpan@illinois.edu

The paper “Induction of autophagy through the activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4)-dependent amino acid response pathway in maternal skeletal muscle may function as the molecular memory in response to gestational protein restriction to alert offspring to maternal nutrition” is available online or from the News Bureau.

Original article by Sharita Forrest, Illinois News Bureau, on 9/18/15:
https://news.illinois.edu/blog/view/6367/249355

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