Previous work has demonstrated that, besides its effects on Ca and bone metabolism, the active form of cholecalciferol, 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol (1,25(OH)2D3), possesses pronounced immunomodulatory effects. In non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice primary (before disease onset), secondary (after insulitis but before diabetes onset) as well as tertiary (after transplantation of syngeneic islets) prevention of diabetes was demonstrated with 1,25(OH)2D3 and its chemically-manufactured non-hypercalcaemic analogues. 1,25(OH)2D3 exerts its immune effects both at the level of the T lymphocyte (shift in cytokine profile from T-helper (Th)1 to Th2, enhanced sensitivity to apoptosis-inducing signals) as well as at the level of the antigen-presenting cell (reduced antigen presentation, reduced production of Th1-promoting cytokines, reduced expression of co-stimulatory molecules). Also, physiologically, 1,25(OH)2D3 is believed to have a role in the immune system by serving as a negative feedback signal, limiting the mounted immune reaction. To test the clinical applicability of 1,25(OH)2D3 as treatment for type 1 diabetes in genetically-at-risk young children, we tested whether short-term early-life intervention with cholecalciferol or non-hypercalcaemic analogues of 1,25(OH)2D3 could prevent diabetes in NOD mice. Significant protection of pancreatic beta cells against autoimmune destruction was observed in analogue-treated and especially in cholecalciferol-treated NOD mice as compared with controls (P<0.005). This short-term early-life intervention was, however, not able to protect the mice from developing diabetes during their lifetime. Possible solutions are longer or combined treatments with other immunomodulators that have synergistic effects with 1,25(OH)2D3 and its analogues.
The major glucocorticoid in man, cortisol, plays important roles in regulating fuel metabolism, energy partitioning and body fat distribution. In addition to the control of cortisol levels in blood by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, intracellular cortisol levels within target tissues can be controlled by local enzymes. 11Beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11beta-HSD1) catalyses the regeneration of active cortisol from inert cortisone, thereby amplifying cortisol levels and glucocorticoid receptor activation in adipose tissue, liver and other tissues. 11Beta-HSD1 is under complex tissue-specific regulation and there is evidence that it adjusts local cortisol concentrations independently of the plasma cortisol concentrations, e.g. in response to changes in diet. In obesity 11beta-HSD1 mRNA and activity in adipose tissue are increased. The mechanism of this up-regulation remains uncertain; polymorphisms in the HSD11B1 gene have been associated with metabolic complications of obesity, including hypertension and type 2 diabetes, but not with obesity per se. Extensive data have been obtained in mice with transgenic over-expression of 11beta-HSD1 in liver and adipocytes, targeted deletion of 11beta-HSD1, and using novel selective 11beta-HSD1 inhibitors; these data support the use of 11beta-HSD1 inhibitors to lower intracellular glucocorticoid levels and treat both obesity and its metabolic complications. Moreover, in human subjects the non-selective 'prototype' inhibitor carbenoxolone enhances insulin sensitivity. Results of clinical studies with novel potent selective 11beta-HSD1 inhibitors are therefore eagerly awaited. The present article focuses on the physiological role of glucocorticoids in regulating energy partitioning, and the evidence that this process is modulated by 11beta-HSD1 in human subjects.
The present paper is the introductory paper to a series of brief reviews representing the proceedings of a recent conference on 'The biochemical basis for the health effects of exercise' organized by the International Research Group on the Biochemistry of Exercise in conjunction with the Nutrition Society. Here the aim is to briefly review and highlight the main innovations presented during this meeting. The following topics were covered during the meeting: exercise signalling pathways controlling fuel oxidation during and after exercise; the fatty acid transporters of skeletal muscle; mechanisms involved in exercise-induced mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal muscle; new methodologies and insights in the regulation of fat metabolism during exercise; muscle hypertrophy: the signals of insulin, amino acids and exercise; adipose tissue-liver-muscle interactions leading to insulin resistance. In these symposia state-of-the-art knowledge on how physical exercise exerts its effects on health was presented. The fast-growing number of identified pathways and processes involved in the health effects of physical exercise, which were discussed during the meeting, will help to develop tailored physical-activity regimens in the prevention of inactivity-induced deterioration of health.
The oxidation of fatty acids, carbohydrates and amino acids can be measured by quantifying the rate of excretion of labelled CO2 following administration of 14C- or 13C-labelled substrates at whole-body and tissue level. However, there is a theoretical need to correct the oxidation rates for the proportion of labelled CO2 that is produced via oxidation but not excreted. Furthermore, depending on the substrate and position of the C label(s), there may also be a need to correct for labelled C from the metabolized substrate that does not appear as CO2, but rather becomes temporarily fixed in other metabolites. The bicarbonate correction factor is used to correct for the labelled CO2 not excreted. Recently, an acetate correction factor has been proposed for the simultaneous correction of CO2 not excreted and label fixed in other metabolites via isotopic exchange reactions, mainly in the tricarboxylic acid cycle. Changes in metabolic rate induced, for example, by feeding, hormonal changes and physical activity, as well as infusion time, have been shown to affect both correction factors. The present paper explains the theoretical and physiological basis of these correction factors and makes recommendations as to how these correction factors should be used in various physiological conditions.
Rats weighing about 100 g were put on a diet which provided 0.45 NDp:E as protein, so that they maintained constant weight; 6 μCi 14C labelled amino acid were given by intragastric tube. Respiratory carbon dioxide was collected for 3 hr to determine the extent of the initial loss of activity. Some rats were killed immediately, others after 15, 20 and 30 days and the remaining radioactivity was measured. The loss of radioactivity from the body was two to three times greater in the first than in the second 15 day period. The rate of loss of activity only reflects the rate of oxidation, i.e. net loss of amino acid from the body, when the specific activities in all tissues are equal. This condition is never fulfilled, but it is more nearly fulfilled at the end than at the beginning of the experiment. During the second 15 day period, radioactivity was lost from the whole body at the rate of about 2% daily. In five rats the total amounts of leucine or lysine (protein bound + free) were measured. From the results the following daily rates of loss were calculated, per kg bodyweight: lysine 28 mg; leucine 20 mg. In terms of metabolic body size (kg (0.75)) the value for lysine is 157 mg/day and for leucine 110 mg/day.
Raised serum cholesterol does not adequately explain the increased risk of CHD within populations or the relationship between diet and CHD. Nevertheless, the principal transport vehicle of cholesterol in the circulation, LDL, must still be regarded as the most atherogenic lipoprotein species, but not because of its contribution to serum cholesterol. The atherogenic potential of LDL in the majority of individuals arises from an increase in the number of small dense LDL particles and not from its cholesterol content per se. There is now a wealth of evidence from cross-sectional and prospective studies to show that LDL particle size is significantly associated with CHD and predictive of increased coronary risk. Moreover, there are a number of credible mechanisms to link small dense LDL with the atherogenic process. The rate of influx of serum lipoproteins into the arterial wall is a function of particle size, and will thus be more rapid for small dense LDL. Components of the extracellular tissue matrix in the intima, most notably proteoglycans, selectively bind small dense LDL with high affinity, sequestering this lipoprotein in a pro-oxidative environment. The oxidation of LDL promotes the final deposition of cholesterol in the arterial wall, and numerous studies have shown small dense LDL to be more susceptible to oxidative modification than its larger and lighter counterparts. An increase in the number of small dense LDL particles may originate from a defect in the metabolism of triacylglycerol-rich lipoproteins. One mechanism may involve the overproduction and increased residence time of large triacylglycerol-rich VLDL in the postprandial phase, a situation thought to arise through pathways of insulin resistance.
The present review will concentrate on the development of the gut-associated lymphoid tissue and the role of early nutrition in promoting immune function. The intestine is the largest immune organ in the body, and as such is the location for the majority of lymphocytes and other immune effector cells. The intestine is exposed to vast quantities of dietary and microbial antigens, and is the most common portal of entry for pathogens, some of which are potentially lethal. The development of normal immune function of the intestine is therefore vital for survival, and is dependent on appropriate antigen exposure and processing, and also an intact intestinal barrier. In early life innate mechanisms of defence are probably more important than active or adaptive mechanisms in responding to an infectious challenge, since the healthy neonate is immunologically naïve (has not seen antigen) and has not acquired immunological memory. During this period maternal colostrum and milk can significantly augment resistance to enteric infections. The mechanisms of enhancing disease resistance are thought to be passive, involving a direct supply of anti-microbial factors, and active, by promoting the development of specific immune function. A tolerance response to dietary and non-invasive antigens is generally induced in the gut. However, it must also be able to mount an adequate immune response to ensure clearance of foreign antigens. It is now recognized that regulation of tolerance and active immune responses is critical to health, and failure to regulate these responses can lead to recurrent infections, inflammatory diseases and allergies. The education of the immune system in early life is thought to be critical in minimizing the occurrence of these immune-based disorders. During this phase of development maternal milk provides signals to the immune system that generate appropriate response and memory. One factor that has been proposed to contribute to the increase in the incidence of immune-based disorders, e.g. atopic diseases in Western countries, is thought to be the increased prevalence of formula-feeding.