Friday April 19, 2019

Omega-3 levels may better predict mortality risk than cholesterol

"We all know that the serum cholesterol level is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD), and since the latter is a major cause of death, it would be reasonable to expect that a high cholesterol level would portend higher risk for premature death", said a researcher

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Omega-3 acids can indicate risk of cardiovascular diseases. Pixabay
Omega-3 acids can indicate risk of cardiovascular diseases. Pixabay
  • Presence of Omega-3 can help in detecting cardiovascular diseases
  • More cholesterol means more risk of disease
  • It is important for one to keep their cholesterol in check

Measuring the levels of Omega-3 fatty acids present in the blood may indicate the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and mortality more profoundly than serum cholesterol, researchers have claimed. The serum cholesterol level is the total amount of cholesterol present in the blood.

Fish contains Omega-3 fatty acids. Pixabay

A higher “Omega-3 Index” a combination of the EPA and DHA (two important types of Omega-3) content of red blood cell membranes is associated with a 33 per cent reduced risk of death due to total cardiovascular disease (CVD) events, total coronary heart disease events, and total strokes, the study showed.

“We all know that the serum cholesterol level is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD), and since the latter is a major cause of death, it would be reasonable to expect that a high cholesterol level would portend higher risk for premature death,” said lead author William Harris, researcher at Britain’s University of Nottingham.

Also Read: Omega-3s from fish more effective in cancer prevention

For the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology, the team compared the total serum cholesterol and Omega-3 fatty acids, two “risk factors” for heart disease, in 2,500 individuals aged 60 years, who were free of known cardiovascular disease (CVD) at baseline.

benefits of donating blood
It is important to keep one’s biostat levels in check. Pixabay

Researchers primarily focussed on total mortality (death from any cause) as an end-point, but also tracked death from CVD, cancer and other causes. In addition, they reported the associations between Omega-3 Index levels and a risk for any CVD event fatal or not whether a heart attack or stroke.The results showed that the category most strongly associated with the Omega-3 Index was non-cardiovascular disease, non-cancer deaths from all other causes.

“When baseline serum cholesterol levels were substituted for the Omega-3 Index in the same multi-variable models, the former was not significantly associated with any of the tracked outcomes whereas the latter was related to four of the five outcomes assessed,” Harris said. IANS

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This Tiny Cell is Good News for Cancer Survivors

This approach to fertility restoration is safe," says Bhartiya pointing out to earlier studies carried out in her laboratory in mice which had shown that this method restored the role of non-functional ovaries and resulted in the birth of fertile offsprings

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Cancer
Cancer Ribbon. Pixabay

A scientist at the National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health (NIRRH) in Mumbai — an institute under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) — says a new type of stem cell identified by her team can help restore fertility in men and women who have undergone treatment for cancer.

Cancer treatment, or “oncotherapy”, that involves use of radiation and chemicals, renders patients infertile as an unwanted side effect and, while cured of cancer, they cannot beget children.

Though women are born with a lifetime reserve of “oocytes” ( immature eggs), these are wiped out by oncotherapy. In males, the testes responsible for the production of sperms, stop making them following cancer treatment.

Currently accepted approaches for fertility preservation require male patients to deposit their sperm in “cryo-banks” before beginning cancer treatment for later use. Similarly women, wanting to have children, must have their eggs or embryos “cryopreserved” for use after oncotherapy.

“Such approaches are invasive, expensive, technically challenging and depend on assisted reproductive technologies,” reports NIRRH cell biologist Deepa Bhartiya in the latest issue of the Indian Journal of Medical Research, the flagship journal of ICMR.

According to the report, there is now a way out. Bhartiya says research by her team over the years led to identification of a novel population of “Very Small Embryonic-Like stem cells (VSELs)”, in testis (in males) and ovaries (in females).

Being “quiescent” by nature, these primitive stem cells (VSELs) survive cancer therapy and therefore can offer young cancer survivors options to have children without having to bank their sperms or embryos prior to oncotherapy, says the report.

“The VSELs have remained elusive over decades due to their small size and presence in very few numbers,” says Bhartiya.

Cancer patient
Cancer patient.

The discovery of these unique VSELs (in testes and ovaries) that do not succumb to oncotherapy “opens up an alternative strategy to regenerate non-functional gonads and ovaries in cancer survivors”, says Bhartiya.

While VSELs survive cancer treatment, their original “habitat” (or niche) however gets destroyed by oncotherapy. To make the VSELs functional, their “niche” should be re-created by transplanting “mesenchymal cells” — another type of stem cells taken from the bone marrow — into the testes, says the report.

A simple and direct transplantation of “mesenchymal cells in the non-functional gonads may suffice to regenerate them,” says Bhartiya. “Similarly, transplantation of “ovarian surface epithelial cells” may allow the VSELs to regenerate nonfunctional ovaries.”

“This approach to fertility restoration is safe,” says Bhartiya pointing out to earlier studies carried out in her laboratory in mice which had shown that this method restored the role of non-functional ovaries and resulted in the birth of fertile offsprings.

“Our group also successfully restored spermatogenesis (sperm production) in non-functional mouse testis by transplanting niche (mesenchymal) cells, into the testis,” Bhartiya said.

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In the light of these findings, she says the field of oncofertility may undergo a sea-change and existing strategies of cryopreservation of gametes and gonadal tissue for fertility preservation in cancer patients will have to be revised. “Pilot clinical studies (in humans) need to be undertaken.”

“VSELs may be an alternative cell source for induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) clls,” Balu Manohar, managing director of Stempeutics Research, a Bengaluru-based stem cell company told this correspondent. “But it is still far away from the clinic as isolation and large scale expansion of these cells has to be standardised.” (IANS)