J J Strain

University of Ulster, Aontroim, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

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Publications (297)1163.71 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune inflammatory disease, and environmental factors are proposed to exacerbate existing symptoms. One such environmental factor is mercury. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between exposure to mercury (Hg) and disease activity and disease associated damage in Total Hg concentrations in hair and urine were measured in 52 SLE patients. Dental amalgams were quantified. Disease activity was assessed using three indexes including the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group Index (BILAG). Disease associated damage was measured using the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics/American College of Rheumatology SLICC/ACR Damage Index. Pearson’s correlation identified a significant negative correlation between hair Hg and BILAG (r = −0.323, p = 0.029) and SLICC/ACR (r = −0.377, p = 0.038). Multiple regression analysis identified hair Hg as a significant predictor of disease associated damage as determined by SLICC/ACR (β = −0.366, 95% confidence interval (CI): −1.769, −0.155 p = 0.019). Urinary Hg was not related to disease activity or damage. Fish consumption is the primary route of MeHg exposure in humans and the inverse association of hair Hg with disease activity observed here might be explained by the anti-inflammatory effects of n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids also found in fish.
    Preview · Article · Dec 2015 · International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
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    ABSTRACT: Recent literature suggests that Ca supplements have adverse effects on cardiovascular health. The effects of a Ca-rich supplement administered alone or in combination with short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides (scFOS) on serum lipids in postmenopausal women were examined using secondary data from a 24-month double-blind randomised controlled study. A total of 300 postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to daily supplements of 800 mg of Ca (2·4 g Aquamin) (Ca), 800 mg of Ca with 3 g of scFOS (CaFOS) or control (maltodextrin) (MD). A full lipid profile, body composition, blood pressure and a range of cytokines were measured at baseline and after 24 months. Intention-to-treat ANCOVA assessed treatment effects between the groups. A significant time-by-treatment effect was observed for LDL and total cholesterol for the Ca and CaFOS groups, with both groups having lower LDL and total cholesterol concentrations compared with MD after 24 months. The control group had mean (5·2 mmol/l) total cholesterol concentrations above the normal range (≤5 mmol/l) at 24 months, whereas values remained within the normal range in the treatment groups. There was no significant treatment effect on HDL-cholesterol, TAG, body composition, blood pressure or cytokine concentrations at 24 months, with the exception of IL-4, where there was a significant increase in the CaFOS group compared with the placebo. This study demonstrates a lipid-lowering effect of both the Ca-rich supplement alone and the supplement with scFOS. At the 4-year follow-up, there was no significant difference between the groups for reported diagnosed cardiovascular conditions.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · The British journal of nutrition
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    ABSTRACT: Context: Vitamin D insufficiency is common among the adolescent population, and may have implications for health outcomes in later life. Few studies have investigated the role of vitamin D status in muscle function and cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) during adolescence. Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the association between vitamin D status and fat free mass (FFM), muscle strength, muscle power and CRF in a representative sample of adolescents from Northern Ireland. Design, setting and participants: A cross-sectional study involving 1,015 adolescents (aged 12 and 15 years), who had 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] data available, as part of the Young Hearts Study 2000. Main outcome measures: FFM (kg) and FFM corrected for height [fat free mass index (FFMI); FFM (kg)/height (m(2))], muscle strength (kg), peak muscle power (kW) and VO2 max (CRF; ml/kg/min). Results: Multinomial regression analyses, controlling for environmental and lifestyle factors, demonstrated that boys aged 15 years in the highest tertile of standardized serum 25(OH)D concentration (>51nmol/L) had significantly higher muscle strength (β=3.90, P=<0.001) compared to those in the lowest tertile (<32nmol/L). These results were not evident in any other age-sex group and vitamin D status was not significantly associated with muscle power or CRF in any of the four age-sex groups. Conclusions: These results support a role for vitamin D in muscle function in adolescent males and indicate the need for more research, in this vulnerable age group.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2015 · The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
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    ABSTRACT: Long-chain n-6 and n-3 PUFA (LC-PUFA), arachidonic acid (AA) (20:4n-6) and DHA (22:6n-3), are critical for optimal brain development. These fatty acids can be consumed directly from the diet, or synthesized endogenously from precursor PUFA by Δ-5 (encoded by FADS1) and Δ-6 desaturases (encoded by FADS2). The aim of this study was to determine the potential importance of maternal genetic variability in FADS1 and FADS2 genes to maternal LC-PUFA status and infant neurodevelopment in populations with high fish intakes. The Nutrition Cohorts 1 (NC1) and 2 (NC2) are longitudinal observational mother-child cohorts in the Republic of Seychelles. Maternal serum LC-PUFA was measured at 28 weeks gestation and genotyping for rs174537 (FADS1), rs174561 (FADS1), rs3834458 (FADS1-FADS2) and rs174575 (FADS2) was performed in both cohorts. The children completed the Bayley Scales of Infant Development II (BSID-II) at 30 months in NC1 and at 20 months in NC2. Complete data were available for 221 and 1310 mothers from NC1 and NC2 respectively. With increasing number of rs3834458 minor alleles, maternal concentrations of AA were significantly decreased (NC1 p=0.004; NC2 p<0.001) and precursor:product ratios for linoleic acid (LA) (18:2n-6)-to-AA (NC1 p<0.001; NC2 p<0.001) and α-linolenic acid (ALA) (18:3n-3)-to-DHA were increased (NC2 p=0.028). There were no significant associations between maternal FADS genotype and BSID-II scores in either cohort. A trend for improved PDI was found among infants born to mothers with the minor rs3834458 allele.In these high fish-eating cohorts, genetic variability in FADS genes was associated with maternal AA status measured in serum and a subtle association of the FADS genotype was found with neurodevelopment.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids
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    ABSTRACT: vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in older adults living in Northern Europe and is influenced by several factors which may vary significantly with age. we aimed to investigate the determinants of 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] in older Irish adults and in particular to examine the effect of supplement use and surrogate markers of sun exposure. subjects were non-institutionalised community dwelling Irish adults aged over 60 years who were participants of a large cross-sectional study comprising three disease defined cohorts. Serum 25(OH)D was measured by liquid chromatography mass spectroscopy. Associations between 25(OH)D and potential confounders were explored in forward regression models in each cohort. the three cohorts comprised 1895, 1233 and 1316 participants (respective mean ages 70.1, 71.0 and 80.4 years). Statistical models explained between a fifth to a third of the variation in 25(OH)D. Supplement use and global solar radiation were positive predictors of 25(OH)D in all cohorts whereas the only universal negative predictor was body mass index. Supplement use was associated with a mean increase in 25(OH)D of between 21.4 and 35.4 nmol/l. The other main predictors varied by cohort but included sun holiday travel, enjoyment of sunshine when outside, use of vitamin D fortified milk, smoking, oily fish and egg consumption and physical frailty. supplement use was the most important determinant of vitamin D status. Vitamin D fortified milk and spending time in the sun, even in the oldest old may also be useful strategies to improve 25(OH)D. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2015 · Age and Ageing
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose Palmaria palmata (P. Palmata) is reported to contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds albeit no study has investigated these effects in humans. Methods A randomised parallel placebo-controlled human intervention study was carried out to investigate the effect of consuming P. Palmata (5 g/day) incorporated into a bread on serum markers of inflammation [C-reactive protein (CRP); cytokine analysis] with secondary analysis investigating changes in lipids (cholesterol, triglycerides), thyroid function [thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)] and antioxidant status ferric reducing antioxidant power. ANCOVA with baseline values as covariates, controlling for age, BMI, sex and smoking status, was used to compare differences between treatment groups over time . In vitro studies investigated the inflammatory activity of P. Palmata extracts (hot water, cold water and ethanol extract), protein extracts and associated protein hydrolysates using a Caco-2 inflammation cell model. Results Consumption of P. Palmata-enriched bread significantly increased serum CRP (+16.1 %, P = 0.011), triglycerides (+31.9 %, P = 0.001) and TSH (+17.2 %, P = 0.017) when compared to the control group. In vitro evaluation of P. palmata extracts and protein hydrolysates identified a significant induction of IL-8 secretion by Caco-2 cells, and the hot water P. palmata extract was shown to increase adipocyte glycerol release (P < 0.05). Conclusion Evidence from this human study suggests that P. palmata stimulates inflammation, increases serum triglycerides and alters thyroid function; however, these changes are not likely to impact health as changes remained within the normal clinical range. The data from the in vitro study provided indications that IL-8 may contribute to the apparent immunostimulation noted in the human study.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · European Journal of Nutrition
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    ABSTRACT: Ireland has traditionally operated a liberal policy of voluntary fortification, but little is known about how this practice, along with supplement use, affects population intakes and status of folate and vitamin B-12. The aim was to examine the relative impact of voluntary fortification and supplement use on dietary intakes and biomarker status of folate and vitamin B-12 in Irish adults. Folic acid and vitamin B-12 from fortified foods and supplements were estimated by using brand information for participants from the cross-sectional National Adult Nutrition Survey 2008-2010. Dietary and biomarker values were compared between 6 mutually exclusive consumption groups formed on the basis of folic acid intake. The consumption of folic acid through fortified foods at low, medium, and high levels of exposure [median (IQR) intakes of 22 (13, 32), 69 (56, 84), and 180 (137, 248) μg/d, respectively]; from supplements [203 (150, 400) μg/d]; or from both sources [287 (220, 438) μg/d] was associated with significantly higher folate intakes and status compared with nonconsumption of folic acid (18% of the population). Median (IQR) red blood cell (RBC) folate increased significantly from 699 (538, 934) nmol/L in nonconsumers to 1040 (83, 1390) nmol/L in consumers with a high intake of fortified foods (P < 0.001), with further nonsignificant increases in supplement users. Supplement use but not fortification was associated with significantly higher serum vitamin B-12 concentrations relative to nonconsumers (P < 0.001). Two-thirds of young women had suboptimal RBC folate for protection against neural tube defects (NTDs); among nonconsumers of folic acid, only 16% attained optimal RBC folate. The consumption of voluntarily fortified foods and/or supplement use was associated with significantly higher dietary intakes and biomarker status of folate in Irish adults. Of concern, the majority of young women remain suboptimally protected against NTDs. © 2015 American Society for Nutrition.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
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    ABSTRACT: Studies investigating obesity and cardiometabolic risk have focused on 'at-risk' populations and methodological inconsistencies have produced equivocal findings. The present cross-sectional study investigated indices of body composition as predictors of cardiometabolic risk and their relationship with inflammation in apparently healthy young adults. A fasting blood sample was taken from consenting adults (160 males, 32 females, aged 18-40 years) for assessment of cardiometabolic risk markers (blood pressure, lipid profiles and insulin resistance) and inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein, tumour necrosis factor-α, interleukin-6, interleukin-10 and adiponectin). Together with anthropometry, fat mass (FM) and fat-free mass (FFM) were determined by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. FM was expressed in absolute terms (kg), as well as relative to total body weight (%), height [FM index (FMI, kg m(-2) )] and FFM (FM : FFM,%). Although anthropometric indices were associated with most cardiometabolic risk markers, the strongest relationship was observed with FMI. Relative to having a low cardiometabolic risk (≤2 markers above clinically relevant cut-offs), each kg m(-2) increase in FMI, increased the likelihood of having an increased cardiometabolic risk by 29% (odds ratio = 1.29; 95% confidence interval = 1.12-1.49). Inflammatory markers were not associated with body composition or cardiometabolic risk. FMI was the strongest predictor of overall cardiometabolic risk but not inflammation per se. However, anthropometric indices, such as body mass index and waist-to-height ratio, remain valuable surrogate measures of adiposity in this group, particularly when risk markers are considered independently. © 2015 The British Dietetic Association Ltd.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2015 · Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics
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    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Bulletin of the World Health Organisation
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    ABSTRACT: The bran and particularly the aleurone fraction of wheat are high in betaine and other physiological methyl donors, which may exert beneficial physiological effects. We conducted two randomised, controlled, cross-over postprandial studies to assess and compare plasma betaine and other methyl donor-related responses following the consumption of minimally processed bran and aleurone fractions (study A) and aleurone bread (study B). For both studies, standard pharmacokinetic parameters were derived for betaine, choline, folate, dimethylglycine (DMG), total homocysteine and methionine from plasma samples taken at 0, 0·5, 1, 2 and 3 h. In study A (n 14), plasma betaine concentrations were significantly and substantially elevated from 0·5 to 3 h following the consumption of both bran and aleurone compared with the control; however, aleurone gave significantly higher responses than bran. Small, but significant, increases were also observed in DMG measures; however, no significant responses were observed in other analytes. In study B (n 13), plasma betaine concentrations were significantly and substantially higher following consumption of the aleurone bread compared with the control bread; small, but significant, increases were also observed in DMG and folate measures in response to consumption of the aleurone bread; however, no significant responses were observed in other analytes. Peak plasma betaine concentrations, which were 1·7-1·8 times the baseline levels, were attained earlier following the consumption of minimally processed aleurone compared with the aleurone bread (time taken to reach peak concentration 1·2 v. 2·1 h). These results showed that the consumption of minimally processed wheat bran, and particularly the aleurone fraction, yielded substantial postprandial increases in plasma betaine concentrations. Furthermore, these effects appear to be maintained when aleurone was incorporated into bread.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2015 · British Journal Of Nutrition
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    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · Proceedings of The Nutrition Society
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    Preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Proceedings of The Nutrition Society
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    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · Proceedings of The Nutrition Society

  • No preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Proceedings of The Nutrition Society
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    Preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Proceedings of The Nutrition Society
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    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · Proceedings of The Nutrition Society
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    Preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Proceedings of The Nutrition Society
  • C McGarel · K Pentieva · J.J. Strain · H McNulty
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    ABSTRACT: Nutrition plays a fundamental role in supporting the structural and functional development of the human brain from conception, throughout early infancy and extending into later life. A growing body of evidence suggests that folate and the metabolically related B-vitamins are essential for brain health across all age groups, owing to their specific roles in C1 metabolism and particularly in the production of S-adenosylmethionine, a universal methyl donor essential for the production of neurotransmitters. Emerging, though not entirely consistent, evidence suggests that maternal folate status throughout pregnancy may influence neurodevelopment and behaviour of the offspring. Furthermore optimal B-vitamin status is associated with better cognitive health in ageing. Of note, a recent clinical trial provided evidence that supplementation with folic acid and related B-vitamins over a 2-year-period reduced global and regional brain atrophy, as measured by MRI scan in older adults. In terms of potential mechanisms, the effects of these B-vitamins on cognitive health may be independent or may be mediated by nutrient-nutrient and/or relevant gene-nutrient interactions. Furthermore, a new area of research suggests that the in utero environment influences health in later life. Folate, an important cofactor in C1 metabolism, is indirectly involved in DNA methylation, which in turn is considered to be one of the epigenetic mechanisms that may underlie fetal programming and brain development. The present review will explore the evidence that supports a role for folate and the related B-vitamins in brain health across the lifecycle, and potential mechanisms to explain such effects.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2014 · Proceedings of The Nutrition Society

  • No preview · Article · Sep 2014 · Irish Journal of Medical Science
  • J. J. Strain
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    ABSTRACT: This article is based on the British Nutrition Foundation's Annual Lecture 2013, which focused on maternal fish consumption and the effects of methylmercury (MeHg) on fetal development, with respect to current guidance and policy on fish consumption during pregnancy. Fish makes a valuable contribution to nutrient intakes across the globe and is the primary protein source for many individuals, particularly those in the developing world. Populations with a high fish consumption, such as in the Republic of the Seychelles, have a greater exposure to MeHg, which is present in varying amounts in all fish. MeHg is a toxic pollutant, which is known to impair neurodevelopment. The dose of MeHg from fish consumption, however, needed to impair neurodevelopment is unknown. Current UK and US guidance on fish consumption during pregnancy tend to focus more on avoiding risks rather than highlighting the benefits that can be obtained from eating fish. Such recommendations have been mainly based on data arising from epidemiological studies in the Faroe Islands, where MeHg exposure was largely from pilot whale consumption. Although small adverse effects on child development have been reported in data from the Faroe Islands, data from the ongoing Seychelles Child Development Studies have shown no adverse effects of pre-natal MeHg exposure from high maternal fish consumption (9–12 meals containing fish per week) on developmental outcomes. Instead these data suggest that nutrients, including long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs), provided by fish may offer a beneficial effect and attenuate or modify any effects of MeHg on developmental outcomes. Recent expert consultations have concluded that the health benefits of fish consumption outweigh the risks posed by MeHg exposure and have argued the need for improved education and guidance to highlight the importance of consuming nutrients, including LC-PUFAs, from fish for optimal child development and to encourage fish consumption during pregnancy.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2014 · Nutrition Bulletin

Publication Stats

14k Citations
1,163.71 Total Impact Points


  • 1988-2015
    • University of Ulster
      • • Northern Ireland Centre for Food & Health (NICHE)
      • • School of Biomedical Sciences
      • • Centre for Molecular Biosciences
      • • Biomedical Sciences Research Institute
      Aontroim, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
  • 2008-2011
    • University of Rochester
      • • Division of General Medicine
      • • Department of Environmental Medicine
      Rochester, New York, United States
  • 2005
    • The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
      • Faculty of Health and Social Sciences
      Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • 2002
    • University of Bergen
      • Section of Pharmacology
      Bergen, Hordaland, Norway
  • 1998
    • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      • Department of Epidemiology
      North Carolina, United States
  • 1993
    • Ninewells Hospital
      Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom
  • 1992
    • The University of Sheffield
      Sheffield, England, United Kingdom