Neuroprotective role of insulin-potentiating cinnamon compounds in amyloid beta toxicity and Alzheimer’s disease
Richard A. Anderson, Ph.D., Lead Scientist
Nutrient Requirements & Functions Laboratory
Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, USDA
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an irreversible progressive neurodegenerative disorder that is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly. While the cause of AD is not known and is very likely multifactorial, AD is associated with several molecular and biochemical abnormalities including impaired energy metabolism/mitochondrial function and oxidative stress that may contribute to neuronal loss/dysfunction. Recent evidence also indicates that abnormalities in insulin signaling in the brain can contribute to AD pathology. Dr. Anderson’s lab has isolated novel water-soluble polyphenol polymers from cinnamon that both increase insulin-dependent glucose metabolism in humans and display antioxidant activity in vitro. This study will determine whether this cinnamon extract can provide protective effects against the amyloid beta protein deposits found in AD in an in vitro model of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Oral Sucrose Tolerance Test (OSTT) as a Tool to Assess Inter-individual Susceptibility to Fructose-Associated Hypertriglyceridemia & Insulin Resistance
Sean H. Adams, Ph.D.
USDA Agric. Research Service
Western Human Nutrition Research Center (WHNRC)
University of California, Davis
Person-to-person variability in the responses to nutrients can be a factor driving susceptibility to insulin resistance and elevated blood lipids (hypertriglyceridemia). Quantifying individual physiological responses to specific challenges is valuable for metabolic health assessment: oral glucose tolerance tests, e.g.,are routinely used to identify pre-diabetics, diagnose diabetes, and evaluate the efficacy of treatment/prevention interventions. Excessive dietary fructose has been implicated in hypertriglyceridemia and insulin resistance, yet surprisingly, no facile test is commonly-used to assess susceptibility to fructose-associated metabolic perturbations. Dr. Adam’s lab has observed strong inverse correlations between triglyceridemia and blood fructose post-fructose feeding, suggesting that low postprandial blood fructose marks high liver conversion to fat and signals vulnerability toward fructose-associated metabolic dysregulation. To ultimately test this in the broader population, Dr. Adam will evaluate an oral sucrose tolerance test (OSTT, 50:50 fructose:glucose) as a tool to determine blood fructose tolerance and its association with lipid outcomes and glucose tolerance in humans.
Investigation of Wheat Gluten as a Putative Environmental Trigger in Type 1 Diabetes
William E. Barbeau, Ph.D.
Virginia Tech. Dept. of Human Nutrition,Foods and Exercise
Some people are far more likely to get type 1 diabetes than others because of the genes they inherited. Scientists believed that genes are only part of the story, that there are some unknown environmental factors that people must be exposed before the disease strikes. Diabetes incidence goes up dramatically in experimental rodents when they are fed a wheat product called gluten. Two recent studies found that early introduction of gluten increased some signs of type 1 diabetes in human infants. This study will test the blood of type 1 diabetic patients and healthy people to see if their blood contains cells that are sensitized to wheat gluten. These cells will be tested to see if there is any likelihood that gluten sensitized cells travel from the intestine through the bloodstream to then begin damaging the pancreas. Dr. Barbeau will also test an enzyme to see if it can break gluten into harmless pieces, as a possible disease treatment.
Dietary curcuminoids: Mechanisms of improved insulin sensitivity
Suresh T. Mathews, Ph.D.
Nutrition and Food Sciences Dept.
Auburn University, AL
Plant derivatives with purported anti-diabetic properties have been used in folk medicine, traditional healing systems, and as complementary and alternative therapy. Curcumin, the bioactive component of curry spice tumeric and its related structures, curcuminoids, possess potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Recent studies suggest that curcumin exerts a hypoglycemic effect in animal models of diabetes. However, its mechanism(s) of action are poorly understood. The goal of this research is to characterize the role and mechanism of curcumin in insulin action and glucose control. Dr. Mathews’ central hypothesis is that curcumin modulates peripheral insulin sensitivity contributing to glucose homeostasis. Specifically, curcumin's effects on hepatic glucose production and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-y (PPAR-y) activation will be analyzed in cell-culture and in the Zucker diabetic fatty rat model. The proposed studies, characterizing curcumin's role in glucose regulation, may serve to validate curcumin as a complementary therapy in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
"Will a Naturopathic Diet Improve Glycemic Management?"
Erica B. Oberg, ND, MPH
The naturopathic dietary approach to type 2 diabetes differs in several ways: It is lower in carbohydrate, higher in micronutrients, includes functional and low glycemic index foods, and emphasizes knowledge and understanding of food quality. It also acknowledges that food nourishes more than the body and thus incorporates education about eating behavior and attitudes toward food. This pilot study tests the feasibility and effectiveness of the naturopathic diet as it compares to standard conventional dietary education. Preliminary data will be used to determine if a naturopathic diet improves glycemic control, quality of life and nutritional knowledge outcomes. If such findings are positive, larger studies can be designed and health promotion programs could be developed to disseminate this novel approach to diabetes. If successful, it has potential to enhance the quality of life for people with diabetes and their families.
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