Posts tagged with "the national institutes of health"

Green covid by Mina Tocalini for 360 Magazine

Tuberculosis Bacteria Paradox

TB-causing bacteria remember prior stress, react quickly to new stress

Tuberculosis bacteria have evolved to remember stressful encounters and react quickly to future stress, according to a study by computational bioengineers at Rice University and infectious disease experts at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS).

Published online in the open-access journal mSystems, the research identifies a genetic mechanism that allows the TB-causing bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, to respond to stress rapidly and in manner that is “history-dependent,” said corresponding author Oleg Igoshin, a professor of bioengineering at Rice.

Researchers have long suspected that the ability of TB bacteria to remain dormant, sometimes for decades, stems from their ability to behave based upon past experience.

Latent TB is an enormous global problem. While TB kills about 1.5 million people each year, the World Health Organization estimates that 2-3 billion people are infected with a dormant form of the TB bacterium.

“There’s some sort of peace treaty between the immune system and bacteria,” Igoshin said. “The bacteria don’t grow, and the immune system doesn’t kill them. But if people get immunocompromised due to malnutrition or AIDS, the bacteria can be reactivated.”

One of the most likely candidates for a genetic switch that can toggle TB bacteria into a dormant state is a regulatory network that is activated by the stress caused by immune cell attacks. The network responds by activating several dozen genes the bacteria use to survive the stress. Based on a Rice computational model, Igoshin and his longtime Rutgers NJMS collaborator Maria Laura Gennaro and colleagues predicted just such a switch in 2010. According to the theory, the switch contained an ultrasensitive control mechanism that worked in combination with multiple feedback loops to allow hysteresis, or history-dependent behavior.

“The idea is that if we expose cells to intermediate values of stress, starting from their happy state, they don’t have that much of a response,” Igoshin explained. “But if you stress them enough to stop their growth, and then reduce the stress level back to an intermediate level, they remain stressed. And even if you fully remove the stress, the gene expression pathway stays active, maintaining a base level of activity in case the stress comes back.”

In later experiments, Gennaro’s team found no evidence of the predicted control mechanism in Mycobacterium smegmatis, a close relative of the TB bacterium. Since both organisms use the same regulatory network, it looked like the prediction was wrong. Finding out why took years of follow-up studies. Gennaro and Igoshin’s teams found that the TB bacterium, unlike their noninfectious cousins, had the hysteresis control mechanism, but it didn’t behave as expected.

“Hysteretic switches are known to be very slow, and this wasn’t,” Igoshin said. “There was hysteresis, a history-dependent response, to intermediate levels of stress. But when stress went from low to high or from high to low, the response was relatively fast. For this paper, we were trying to understand these somewhat contradictory results. ”

Igoshin and study co-author Satyajit Rao, a Rice doctoral student who graduated last year, revisited the 2010 model and considered how it might be modified to explain the paradox. Studies within the past decade had found a protein called DnaK played a role in activating the stress-response network. Based on what was known about DnaK, Igoshin and Rao added it to their model of the dormant-active switch.

“We didn’t discover it, but we proposed a particular mechanism for it that could explain the rapid, history-dependent switching we’d observed,” Igoshin said. “What happens is, when cells are stressed, their membranes get damaged, and they start accumulating unfolded proteins. Those unfolded proteins start competing for DnaK.”

DnaK was known to play the role of chaperone in helping rid cells of unfolded proteins, but it plays an additional role in the stress-response network by keeping its sensor protein in an inactive state.

“When there are too many unfolded proteins, DnaK has to let go of the sensor protein, which is an activation input for our network,” Igoshin said. “So once there are enough unfolded proteins to ‘distract’ DnaK, the organism responds to the stress.”

Gennaro and co-author Pratik Datta conducted experiments at NJMS to confirm DnaK behaved as predicted. But Igoshin said it is not clear how the findings might impact TB treatment or control strategies. For example, the switch responds to short-term biochemical changes inside the cell, and it’s unclear what connection, if any, it may have with long-term behaviors like TB latency, he said.

“The immediate first step is to really try and see whether this hysteresis is important during the infection,” Igoshin said. “Is it just a peculiar thing we see in our experiments, or is it really important for patient outcomes? Given that it is not seen in the noninfectious cousin of the TB bacterium, it is tempting to speculate it is related to survival inside the host.”

Gennaro is a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. Igoshin is a senior investigator at Rice’s Center for Theoretical Biological Physics.

The research was supported by the Welch Foundation (C-1995) and the National Institutes of Health (GM096189, AI122309, AI104615, HL149450).

National Drink Wine Day

Cheers! Celebrate National Drink Wine Day by Helping Your Heart, Gut, and Brain

Rosé Piscine, a rosé wine specifically made to drink over ice, serves up some of the health benefits the drink offers
February 18th is National Drink Wine Day, which is a day each year that celebrates the love and health benefits associated with wine. According to the consulting group BW 166, wine sales in the U.S. topped $72.2 billion in 2018, which was nearly a 5 percent increase over the prior year. Clearly, we are nation that loves a good glass of wine, and the more we learn of the health benefits, the more likely more of us will add a bottle to our grocery list.
“People were enjoying a good glass of wine long before the research showed that there are health benefits,” explains Ken Lang, managing partner at Rosé Piscine, a rosé wine specifically made to drink over ice. “Now we can enjoy our glass of wine and feel good about what it is doing for our body, too. Rarely do we find something that we enjoy so much that also provides health benefits.”
Wine enthusiasts can rejoice as they celebrate National Drink Wine Day this year, because the drink has plenty of research pointing to the fact that it’s a healthy beverage to drink in moderation. What exactly is moderation? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), moderate drinking is up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. One drink is defined as being four ounces of wine. Further, they recommend that number is not the average consumed over a week, but the amount consumed on any given day.
Most people who enjoy having a glass of wine with their meal love the taste, but they may not be aware of the way it’s helping their body. Here are some of the many health benefits that have been associated with making wine a part of your diet:

  • Heart health The National Institutes of Health reports that studies have shown that adults who drink light to moderate amounts of alcohol may be less likely to develop heart disease than those who do not drink at all or are heavy drinkers.
  • Gut health The April 2017 issue of the journal Current Opinion in Biotechnology included the research results of a study on the health benefits of fermented foods, including wine. The study found that fermented foods, including wine, provide health benefits well beyond the starting food materials, and contain living microorganisms of which some are genetically similar to strains used as probiotics.
  • Diabetes health The April 2017 issue of the journal Endocrine reports that the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association recommend a Mediterranean diet for improving glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes. It also reports that studies show that higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with a 20-23 % reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The Mediterranean diet is one that includes drinking wine in moderation.
  • Brain health Research out of the University of Rochester Medical Center in 2018 found that drinking wine in moderation was associated with reducing inflammation and helping the brain to clear away toxins, including those that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

“From the brain to gut to your heart, drinking a little wine has health benefits for most people,” added Helppie. “It’s nice to feel good about what you are drinking, whether with dinner, at a party, or at the beach. You can drink some wine and know you are doing your body good.”
Rosé Piscine, a wine that has sold millions of bottles in France and Brazil, recently became available for sale in the United States. Uniquely, it is a wine that has been created to be served over ice. Rosé Piscine is made by Pascal Nacenta in southwest France. The French rosé is 100 percent destemmed, fermented for 20 days with cold stabilization at 60 degrees and then filtered. The final product emerges from stainless steel tanks, offering a floral aroma of white flowers and rose and an exotic fruits finish. Rosé Piscine can be purchased at select stores around the country and online. To find a store near you or to order online, visit the site.

About Rosé Piscine
A unique wine in that it has been created to be served over ice, Rosé Piscine is taking the nation by storm. Over two million bottles of it have already been sold in France and Brazil, and it is now available in the U.S. Rosé Piscine is pale salmon in color, light to medium in body wine and is made from Négrette, a locally indigenous varietal known for its powerful aromatic qualities. For more information on Rosé Piscine or the company, visit the site.