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Fat-rich diets limit the birth and development of new neurons in female mice

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Diets that are too rich in fat can decrease the birth and growth levels of new neurons in adult female mice but not in male mice. This is the interesting result achieved by a team of researchers who published their experience in a study on eNeuro.

Already in the past, several studies have associated traits such as obesity or type 2 diabetes with increased risks of brain damage, which can occur with a wide range of diseases, from depression to Alzheimer’s disease. And it is precisely the development and birth of new neurons that can be the causal link between these two conditions, as reported in the same press release that presents the study.

Researchers have experimented with mice by feeding them a diet rich in fat. At the same time, they fed mice from another control group on a normal diet for 18 weeks. In the mice that were on the higher-fat diet, the researchers warned of compromised neurogenesis, particularly in the hippocampus area, in addition to weight gain and blood sugar levels.

This was, however, only in female mice, which therefore showed a lower number of new neurons. Mice in the fat diet group showed the same number of new neurons as mice in the control group. This information could be useful to understand why women are actually at greater risk of cognitive decline during illnesses such as depression or Alzheimer’s disease.

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Too much artificial light can suppress melatonin production at night

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Artificial light can also cause damage to the human body with regard to the production of melatonin at night. A team of researchers from the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), supported by other international researchers, have carried out a new study on the impact of light pollution.

It is already known that melatonin is one of the substances responsible for the so-called circadian clock, a sort of internal clock that regulates many of our natural processes. Researchers have discovered that artificial light, even the glow of evening and night lights in the sky, can cause damage to the very formation of melatonin, and this happens to both humans and vertebrates.

Melatonin, in fact, synchronizes the day-night rhythm and can regulate the various versions of the aforesaid circadian clock that are in the body and that can refer to various tissues, organs, groups of cells, etc. The researchers started from the assumption that in vertebrates the so-called photoreceptors, which are found in the retina, detect differences in light levels and when the light exceeds a certain level the same production of melatonin is suppressed.

Analyzing 72 previous studies on this topic, the researchers came to the conclusion that even rather low light levels can suppress this important production in some vertebrates. The most susceptible ones are fish that, once a threshold of 0.01 lux is exceeded, already begin to experience an interruption in melatonin production. They are followed by rodents with a level of 0.03 lux. The limit for humans is set by researchers at 6 lux.

According to the researchers, even artificial light reflected in the night sky (e.g. from clouds and various particles, something also called “Skyglow”) is sufficient to suppress the production of melatonin in several vertebrates, as explained by Maja Grubisic, one of the researchers who produced the study.

According to Franz Hölker, another researcher involved in the study, the impacts of light pollution and decreased melatonin production on human health have never really been understood.

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Glutamine could fight inflammation in obese people

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According to British researchers in Sweden, glutamine, an amino acid that is synthesized by the human body but can also be obtained from the diet, could perhaps help reduce inflammation of fatty tissues in obese people and generally reduce fat mass.

The research, carried out by scientists at the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, and the University of Oxford, shows that glutamine can alter gene expression in various types of human cells even though the researchers themselves state that further research will be necessary to deepen this link. Meanwhile, a first study has already been published in Cell Metabolism.

Among the main roles that glutamine has for the human body there is above all that of maintaining good intestinal health. In general, however, it can also have anti-inflammatory effects on white blood cells or T-cells. For this study the researchers analyzed the adipose tissue taken from the abdomen of 52 obese women and 29 non-obese women. The researchers noted that the main difference in comparing the two sample groups was in glutamine.

The obese women had lower levels of this amino acid in adipose tissue than the other group. In turn, lower levels of glutamine were linked to larger fat cell sizes and generally a higher percentage of fat, even regardless of body mass index. As a result, this shows that glutamine could be useful against obesity, as suggested by Mikael Ryden himself, professor at the Huddinge Department of Medicine at the Swedish Institute and corresponding author of the study.

Ryden himself specifies that further studies are needed, however, because we already know, for example, that glutamine plays a key role in cell division and cancer metabolism. Glutamine itself, therefore, could have side effects that we do not yet know about at the moment, and therefore, before recommending it as a supplement for obesity, much more in-depth research will have to be carried out. In the meantime, however, researchers also carried out experiments on mice and showed that rats injected with glutamine for two weeks showed less inflammation of fat tissue, reduced blood glucose levels and lower lean mass.

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