Study: Brain Produces Fructose from Glucose

According to a new study by Yale School of Medicine researchers, fructose is converted in the human brain from glucose. The finding, published in the journal JCI Insight , raises questions about fructose’s effects on the brain and eating behavior.

Fructose, a simple sugar, is generated in the human brain, according to Hwang et al . Image credit: Pete Linforth /
Fructose, or fruit sugar, is a natural simple sugar found in fruits, honey, vegetables, and many processed foods.
Excess consumption of fructose contributes to high blood sugar and chronic diseases like obesity.
Dr. Janice Hwang, an endocrinologist and an assistant professor in the Division of Endocrinology at the Yale School of Medicine, and co-authors had demonstrated in a prior study that fructose and another simple sugar,… Read more

Researchers Find Antimicrobial Substances in Komodo Dragon Blood

A team of researchers at the College of Science at George Mason University has detected 48 antimicrobial peptides in the blood plasma of Komodo dragons ( Varanus komodoensis ), the largest living lizards. The discovery could lead to the development of new drugs capable of combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The Komodo dragon ( Varanus komodoensis ). Image credit: Jason Buchner.
Komodo dragons live in the lesser Sunda region of the Indonesian archipelago, including the islands of Komodo, Flores, Rinca, and Padar.
The saliva of these lizards contains more than 50 species of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria (e.g. Enterobacteriaceae, Staphylococcus sciuri, Enterococcus faecalis ), which are believed to contribute to the demise of their prey.
Yet, Komodo dragons appear resistant to these bac… Read more

Fetal Sex Plays Role in Immunity of Pregnant Women, New Study Finds

Women tend to react with stronger responses to immune challenges while pregnant with girls than with boys, a new study published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity has found.

The study by Mitchell et al shows baby’s sex is associated with pregnant women’s immune responses.
A team of scientists at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center followed 80 pregnant women (46 with male and 34 with female fetuses) across the course of their pregnancy and examined whether women exhibited different levels of immune markers called cytokines based on fetal sex.
Analyses were conducted on levels of cytokines in the blood and levels produced by a sample of immune cells that were exposed to bacteria in the lab.
“While women didn’t exhibit differences in blood cytokine levels based on fetal sex, we did fi… Read more

‘Molecular Switch’ that Causes Mucosal Autoimmune Diseases Discovered

According to an international team of researchers led by University College London and King’s College London, the discovery of a ‘molecular switch’ that causes the mucosal inflammatory diseases ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease, could lead to effective new treatments for these autoimmune conditions. The discovery is reported in the journal PLoS Genetics .

According to Soderquest et al , T-bet plays an important role in coordinating the body’s immune responses. Image credit: Werbe Fabrik.
For the first time, researchers have a specific target for the treatment of these life-changing conditions by identifying an immune molecule called T-bet (TBX21) as the key control point that regulates the genetic risk in specific diseases.
“Our research outlines a specific focus for… Read more

Seven New Species of Night Frogs Discovered in India

Seven new species of the genus Nyctibatrachus (Night frogs) have been discovered in the Western Ghats global biodiversity hotspot in India.

Seven new species of night frogs from the Western Ghats, India. Image credit: SD Biju.
The genus Nyctibatrachus (family Nyctibatrachidae) is endemic to the Western Ghats and represents an ancient group of frogs that diversified on the Indian landmass approximately 70-80 million years ago.
The newly discovered species, reported in the journal PeerJ , are the fruit of five years of expeditions to the Western Ghats.
This amphibian hotspot has produced 28 known Nyctibatrachus species — and the new arrivals ( N. athirappillyensis, N. manalari, N. pulivijayani, N. radcliffei, N. robinmoorei, N. sabarimalai and N. webilla ) push that count to 35.
Four of the new spe… Read more

Vitamin B3 Protects Mice from Glaucoma, Study Finds

Vitamin B3, also known as niacin and nicotinic acid, prevents eye degeneration in glaucoma-prone mice, according to a study published in the Feb. 17 issue of the journal Science .

Williams et al show that dietary supplementation with a single molecule (vitamin B3 or NAM) or Nmnat1 gene therapy significantly reduces vulnerability to glaucoma by supporting mitochondrial health and metabolism. Image credit: Mizianitka.
Glaucoma, a group of complex, multifactorial diseases, is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases worldwide and the most common cause of age-related blindness in the United States. There is currently no cure, and once vision is lost, the condition is irreversible.
In most glaucoma patients, harmfully high pressure inside the eye or intraocular pressure leads to the pro… Read more

Vitamin D Protects Against Colds and Flu, New Study Finds

Vitamin D supplementation can help protect against acute respiratory infections including colds and flu, particularly among very deficient individuals, according to a new study published in the journal BMJ .

The study by Martineau et al provides the most robust evidence yet that vitamin D has benefits beyond bone and muscle health, and could have major implications for public health policy.
Acute respiratory tract infections are a major cause of global morbidity and mortality and are responsible for 10% of ambulatory and emergency department visits in the United States.
They can include anything from the common cold to bronchitis and pneumonia and have been linked with low blood levels of vitamin D.
Some studies have shown that vitamin D can trigger immune responses to certain bacteria and viruse… Read more

Study: Married People Have Lower Levels of Stress Hormone Cortisol

A study led by Carnegie Mellon University researchers provides the first biological evidence to explain how marriage impacts health.

According to Brian Chin et al , married people have lower cortisol levels and steeper slopes than the unmarried ones. Image credit: Olessya.
Carnegie Mellon University Professor Sheldon Cohen and co-authors found that married individuals had lower levels of cortisol than those who never married or were previously married.
These findings, published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology , support the belief that unmarried people face more psychological stress than married individuals.
“It’s is exciting to discover a physiological pathway that may explain how relationships influence health and disease,” said Brian Chin, a Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon… Read more

Researchers Find Myopia-Causing Cells in Retina

A team of researchers at Northwestern University has discovered a type of retinal ganglion cell that may cause myopia when it dysfunctions. The study is published in the journal Current Biology .

This image shows an ON Delayed retinal ganglion cell. Image credit: Adam Mani & Gregory W. Schwartz, Northwestern University.
This study is part of the team’s larger body of research to reverse engineer the retina by identifying new retinal cell types in mice.
It was authored by Gregory Schwartz, assistant professor of ophthalmology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and Adam Mani, a postdoctoral fellow in ophthalmology at Feinberg.
“The retina has about 50 types of retinal ganglion cells, which together convey all the information we use to perceive the visual world,” the authors exp… Read more

Scientists Identify Brain-Signaling Molecule that Triggers Fat Burning

A research team led by Scripps Research Institute scientist Dr. Supriya Srinivasan has identified a brain hormone that appears to trigger fat burning in the gut.

Model depicting the FLP — 7/NPR — 22 neuroendocrine axis that underlies the 5-HTergic control of body fat loss. In the nervous system, an integrated 5-HT and octopaminergic circuit stimulates body fat loss. In this study, we report the discovery of a tachykinin signalling system that underlies the 5-HTergic control of body fat loss in C. elegans . The FLP — 7 neuroendocrine peptide is secreted from the ASI neurons in response to 5-HT and Oct-mediated signalling. The nutrient sensor AAK — 2/AMPK acts in the ASI neurons via the CREB co-regulator CRTC — 1 to regulate FLP — 7 release in response to 5-HT-encoded signals of food availability. Upon rele… Read more

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