Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Press release] Healthy gut microbiota can prevent metabolic syndrome, researchers say

Healthy gut microbiota can prevent metabolic syndrome, researchers say.

From the press release

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ATLANTA—Promoting healthy gut microbiota, the bacteria that live in the intestine, can help treat or prevent metabolic syndrome, a combination of risk factors that increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke, according to researchers at Georgia State University and Cornell University.

Their findings are published in the journal Gastroenterology.

The study, a follow-up to the research team’s previous paper in Science, uses an improved technical approach, making the results more significant.

The research team includes Dr. Andrew Gewirtz, a professor in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State; Dr. Benoit Chassaing, a post-doctoral student at Georgia State; and Dr. Ruth Ley of the departments of Microbiology and Molecular Biology at Cornell.

“These results suggest that developing a means to promote a more healthy microbiota can treat or prevent metabolic disease,” Gewirtz said. “They confirm the concept that altered microbiota can promote low-grade inflammation and metabolic syndrome and advance the underlying mechanism. We showed that the altered bacterial population is more aggressive in infiltrating the host and producing substances, namely flagellin and lipopolysaccharide, that further promote inflammation.”

Metabolic syndrome is a serious health condition that affects 34 percent of American adults, according to the American Heart Association. A person is diagnosed with metabolic syndrome when he or she has three of these risk factors: a large waistline, high triglyceride (type of fat found in the blood) level, low HDL cholesterol level, high blood pressure and high fasting blood sugar. A person with metabolic syndrome is twice as likely to develop heart disease and five times as likely to develop diabetes, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Because metabolic syndrome is becoming more common, scientists are exploring possible causes. In their previous study in Science, Gewirtz, Ley and other researchers showed altered gut microbiota play a role in promoting metabolic syndrome.

Gut microbiota perform key functions in health and when it becomes deregulated it can promote chronic inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In addition, altered gut microbiota promote inflammation that leads to metabolic syndrome.

“We’ve filled in a lot of the details about how it works,” Gewirtz said. “It’s the loss of TLR5 on the epithelium, the cells that line the surface of the intestine and their ability to quickly respond to bacteria. That ability goes away and results in a more aggressive bacterial population that gets closer in and produces substances that drive inflammation.”

Normally, the bacteria are in the mucous layer at a certain distance away from epithelial cells. The researchers showed altered gut microbiota is more aggressive in infiltrating the host and gets very close to the epithelium. This altered population produces flagellin and lipopolysaccharide, which further promote inflammation.

The research team improved the study by comparing mice that were siblings and littermates, making all conditions in the study the same. The mice only differed by whether they were missing a specific gene, TLR5. Previously, the researchers studied mice that were from two different strains and lived in separate environments. In this study, they found the absence of TLR5 on the intestinal surface leads to alterations in bacteria that drive inflammation, leading to metabolic syndrome.

This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.

November 28, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

As probiotics use grows for gut health, VSL#3 has designations for specific GI issues

 

diagram of a human digestive system

Image via Wikipedia

From the 17 November 2011 Eureka News Alert

VSL#3, classified as medical food, is designated for the dietary management of UC, ileal pouch and IBS

GAITHERSBERG, MD, Nov. 18 – As clinical studies continue to validate the use of probiotics to help promote general gastrointestinal health, a growing U.S. market1 for probiotics indicates that the U.S. healthcare community and consumers alike are recognizing the value of these beneficial microorganisms. However, because most probiotics are classified as dietary supplements, directing patients to the best probiotic for their individual needs can be challenging. And, as the category matures, one probiotic preparation — VSL#3 — stands apart and ahead because it is not a supplement; it has been classified as a refrigerated medical food designated for the dietary management of three major gastrointestinal conditions: Ulcerative Colitis, Ileal Pouch and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit to the host.” But research also shows that probiotics are not “one size fits all.”

“As the amount of research in the field of probiotics increases, clinical evidence continues to indicate that not all probiotics are the same; probiotic activity is strain-specific and unique, and some strains can have antagonistic or synergistic activities when mixed together,” said Marc Tewey, vice president, commercial operations, at Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals, Inc., manufacturer of VSL#3. “VSL#3 is formulated with a precise mix of eight proprietary strains of live bacteria, and the result is a probiotic medical food so potent, it must be used under medical supervision and must be shipped and sold as a refrigerated product.”

What are medical foods?

According to the FDA, medical foods are:

  • Specially formulated and processed products for the partial or exclusive feeding of a patient by means of oral intake or parenteral tube feeding
  • For dietary management of patients with special medically determined nutrient requirements that cannot be achieved by diet alone
  • Designed to provide nutritional support specifically modified for the management of the unique nutrient needs
  • Only for use under medical supervision
  • Only for a patient receiving active medical care on a recurring basis for the use of the medical food

The VSL#3 line of products contain between 112.5 billion and 900 billion live, colony-forming units (CFU), the large numbers of which make them the most potent brand of probiotics available and require the product to be refrigerated. VSL#3 utilizes a synergistic combination of diverse strains of bacteria including: Streptococcus thermophilus, Bifidobacteria longum, Bifidobacteria infantis, Bifidobacteria breve, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus paracasei and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. Bulgaricus. Clinical studies using VSL#3 and published in notable journals, such as Gut, Gastroenterology and the American Journal of Gastroenterology have indicated that it colonizes the GI tract with beneficial bacteria, and in doing so, forms an intestinal barrier, which may help protect the GI tract and promote the absorption of nutrients.

“One of the main goals of physicians whose patients are living with these chronic diseases is to lengthen the periods between symptom ‘flares’ as much as possible,” said Tewey. “Studies show that incorporating the use of this type of dietary therapy alongside traditional drug therapies can be an effective step in achieving that goal for many who suffer from these debilitating conditions.”

VSL#3 is one of the few probiotic preparations supported by Level 1 (double-blind, placebo-controlled) scientific data, and has been the subject of a collection of more than 80 studies that have demonstrated its efficacy, specifically in the dietary management of IBS, Ulcerative Colitis and Ileal Pouch. It is the only probiotic recognized as an effective tool in the dietary management of pouchitis by the American College of Gastroenterology2 and by the Cochrane Review3 for the treatment and prevention of pouchtis after ileal pouch-anal anastamosis for chronic ulcerative colitis.

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VSL#3 products are available online at www.vsl3.com, as well as behind the pharmacy counter at pharmacies nationwide. They come in three formulations: VSL#3 DS prescription-only packets, VSL#3 OTC packets and VSL#3 OTC capsules. Physicians and pharmacists interested in additional information about the product can call 1-866-634-2765 and consumers may call 1-866-GET-VSL3 or visit www.vsl3.com for more information.

1 Source: “U.S. Digestive Health Enzymes, Prebiotics & Probiotics Market (2010 – 2015)” Markets and Markets, July 4, 2011

2Kornbluth, A, Sachar DB. Ulcerative colitis practice guidelines in adults: American College of Gastroenterology, Practice Parameters Committee.; Practice Parameters Committee of the American College of Gastroenterology. AM J. Gastroenterol. 2010 Mar; 105(3):501-23

3Holubar SD et al., (Review) The Cochrane Library 2010, Issue 6.

 

Educational Resources

 

 

 

November 18, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

   

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