Nutrition Frontiers - Spring 2016

Date Posted: 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Volume 7, Issue 2

The spring issue of Nutrition Frontiers showcases green tea's effect on human metabolism, fish oil — as a chemopreventive agent in myeloid leukemia and, with pectin, how they affect microRNA expression in the colon. Learn about our spotlight investigator, Dr. Richard Eckert, and his research on skin cancer prevention, upcoming announcements and more.


Green Tea Extract and COMT Genotype in Overweight and Obese Postmenopausal Women

Image of a tea pot with four cups of teaGreen tea catechins are purported to have anti-obesity and potentially anti-cancer properties. In a subset of 237 overweight and obese postmenopausal women from the Minnesota Green Tea Trial who were randomized to decaffeinated green tea extract (GTE) or placebo for one year and stratified by the catechin degrading enzyme, catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) genotype, Dostal and colleagues found no changes in total energy intake, anthropometric variables, or obesity-associated hormones between the treatment groups. However, within the group of women with elevated baseline insulin levels ( ≥ 10 µ IU/mL), those taking GTE had a decrease in fasting serum insulin levels at 12 months compared to those taking placebo. Although no treatment effect by genotype interaction was observed, after 12 months, women with the high-activity form of COMT showed reductions in fasting plasma adiponectin and increased insulin compared to those with the low-activity form of COMT. Additional research is needed to confirm if GTE supplementation may benefit individuals with elevated insulin concentrations and the high-activity COMT genotype.


View the Stars in Nutrition and Cancer lecture: Food-Based Cancer Prevention Strategies: Is There a Future for Human Studies? by Dr. Steven Clinton, The Ohio State University

View the National Academies of Sciences, Health and Medicine Division (formerly the Institute of Medicine) Workshop on Nutrition Care in Outpatient Oncology.

Funding Opportunity Announcement: DOD Gut Microbiome, Nutritional and Environmental Effects on the Gut Microbiome and Cognition, letters of intent deadline August 1, 2016.

National Nutrition Research Roadmap to guide federal nutrition research released by the Interagency Committee on Human Nutrition Research.

Upcoming Events

May 10-12, 2016
The New York Academy of Sciences, Food-Microbiome Interaction: Implications for Health & Disease
London, UK

May 16-18, 2016
National Nutrient Databank Conference
Alexandria, VA

May 17-20, 2016
Integrative Medicine and Health
Las Vegas, NV

May 18-19, 2016
Personalized Nutrition Congress
Boston, MA

June 27-29, 2016
Festival of Genomics
Boston, MA

June 28, 2016
Research Strategies for Nutritional and Physical Activity Epidemiology and Cancer Prevention
National Cancer Institute
Rockville, MD

September 5-8, 2016
Phenotypes and Prevention — The Interplay of Genes, Life-Style Factors and Gut Environment
Copenhagen, Denmark


Chemopreventive Role for EPA in Myeloid Leukemia

Image of a piece of salmonCurrent treatment of myeloid leukemia does not eliminate leukemia stem cells (LSC). Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) incorporation into the cell membrane produces cyclopentenone prostaglandin delta-12 PGJ3, which has anti-leukemic properties. In a recent study, Finch and colleagues investigated the in vivo role of EPA supplementation on chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) progression. EPA supplementation of mice at pharmacological doses alleviated symptoms and signs of leukemia in models of CML and AML. The cyclooxygenase/hematopoietic prostaglandin synthase pathway-derived endogenous metabolite of EPA specifically targeted the LSC population to correct leukocytosis, splenomegaly, and overall disease index in these models of experimental leukemia. Clinical trials are needed to determine the potential future use of EPA as an adjuvant therapy in patients with myeloid leukemia.

Effects of Fish Oil and Pectin on microRNA Expression in the Colon

Image of a basket of fruitmicroRNAs (miRNAs), which are involved in several key cellular processes and the pathogenesis of cancer, are modulated by certain dietary components. Shah et al. used the Lgr5-EGFP-IRES-cre ERT2knock in mouse model to visualize and isolate large intestinal Lgr5 positive stem cells, establish their stem cell-specific miRNA expression profile, and examine their response to dietary agents by measuring miRNA expression. Mice injected with a colon-specific carcinogen were fed a tumor suppressive treatment diet containing n-3 PUFA and a fermentable fiber (fish oil/pectin) or a control diet containing n-6 PUFA and a poorly fermentable fiber (corn oil/cellulose). Fish oil/pectin up-regulated miR-19b, miR-26b and miR-203 expression as compared to corn oil/cellulose, specifically in Lgr5high cells. In contrast, in Lgr5 negative cells, only miR-19b and its indirect target PTK2B were modulated by the fish oil/pectin diet. These results indicate that colonic stem cells exhibit a unique miRNA signature and that a chemoprotective fish oil and pectin diet modulated the expression of select miRNAs.


Portrait of Richard Eckert, PhDRichard Eckert, PhD is the John F.B. Weaver Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine. He received his PhD at the University of Illinois, Urbana and completed post-doctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Eckert has made pioneering discoveries in the area of surface epithelial biology, specifically focusing on the human epidermis. His research has led to enhanced understanding of normal skin biology and insights regarding the mechanisms that drive skin diseases including cancer. He also has a long-term interest in the prevention of skin cancer by natural biological agents. Dr. Eckert was awarded an R01 for his project Stem Cells and Skin Cancer Prevention and Angiogenesis .

Read more about Richard Eckert

Did You Know?

Kefir Is A Good Feeling Option!

Image of a glass of keferKefir (pronounced kee-fer) a sweet, slightly tangy, carbonated fermented dairy drink dates back about 2,000 years. The name comes from the Turkish word "keif," meaning "good feeling." It originates from the Caucasus Mountains in Europe and has been used in other parts of the world.

Different types of milk, from goat, cow, sheep to coconut milk and soymilk can be fermented using "kefir grains," which are casein and gelatinous colonies of 10 to 20 types of live lactic acid bacteria and yeasts grown symbiotically in kefir. The end result is a complex lactic-alcoholic fermentation that boasts natural antibiotic properties and more probiotics than other cultured milk products. Kefir is an option for those who are lactose-intolerant. Kefir offers ~ 20% of the Daily Value for calcium and is an excellent source of magnesium, B-vitamins such as biotin and folic acid along with amino acids such as tryptophan.

This spring try a refreshing no oil Kefir Dressing: 2 cups fresh Kefir; 1 heaping tbs chopped fresh parsley; 1 heaping tbs minced fresh chives; 1 heaping tbs finely chopped fresh lemon zest; 1 heaping tbs finely chopped fresh garlic; and 1 tsp sea salt or to taste. Blend ingredients together and let the flavor seep in over 6-8 hours before using on a salad or as a condiment to meat.