European Journal of Nutrition (v.54, #5)

Overweight and obesity in 16 European countries by Silvano Gallus; Alessandra Lugo; Bojana Murisic; Cristina Bosetti; Paolo Boffetta; Carlo La Vecchia (679-689).
In Europe, only a few population-based studies have been conducted on obesity in different countries at the same time using homogeneous methodologies. We provide updated information on the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Europe, using data from a pan-European survey.We considered data from a representative cross-sectional study conducted in 2010 in 16 European countries (i.e., Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, England, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Spain, and Sweden), using a uniform protocol and comparable methods, on a total of 14,685 adults (aged ≥18 years) providing information on self-reported height and weight.Almost half of the interviewed European adults (47.6 %) were overweight or obese (54.5 % in men and 40.8 % in women), and 12.8 % (14.0 % in men and 11.5 % in women) were obese. Obesity prevalence was lower in Western/Southern (11.1 %) than in Central/Eastern (12.4 %) and Northern European countries (18.0 %). It ranged from 7.6 % in Italy to more than 20 % in Croatia (21.5 %) and England (20.1 %). Prevalence of obesity significantly increased with age and decreased with level of education. As compared to never smokers, obesity was less frequent in current smokers and more frequent in male, but not female, ex-smokers.The lowest prevalence of obesity was observed in Mediterranean countries, particularly in Italy and France. Intervention to control obesity in Europe should focus on subgroups with higher prevalence of obesity, including adults of lower socioeconomic status and male ex-smokers.
Keywords: Overweight; Obesity prevalence; Pan-European survey; Europe

Cholesterol clearance by macrophages is a vital process to eliminate excess cholesterol from the body. Internalization of modified cholesterol by macrophages triggers overexpression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ1 (PPARγ1) and liver X receptor α (LXRα), two transcription factors that are critically involved in macrophage cholesterol efflux. Recent studies demonstrate that oral administration of sesamol derivative (INV-403) and sesame oil leads to a significant attenuation of atherosclerosis in Watanabe heritable hyperlipidemic rabbits and LDLR−/− mice, respectively. However, the exact molecular mechanisms underlying such anti-atherogenic effects remain largely unrevealed.Luciferase reporter assays were performed to assess the effects of sesamol and sesame oil on PPARγ1 and LXRα gene expression. The potential of sesamol and sesame oil to modulate cholesterol efflux was evaluated using 3H-cholesterol efflux assays.Sesamol and sesame oil treatments lead to a significant up-regulation of PPARγ1 and LXRα expression and transcriptional activity in a MAPK-dependent manner. Importantly, primary macrophages display a significantly enhanced cholesterol efflux potential upon treatment with sesamol and sesame oil, and this stimulatory effect is mediated by MAPK signaling.Our findings suggest that the previously reported anti-atherogenic effects of sesamol and sesame oil could be attributed, at least in part, to enhanced PPARγ1 and LXRα expression and transcriptional activity leading to improved macrophage cholesterol efflux. Our study is novel in elucidating the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the protective effects of sesamol and sesame oil against atherosclerosis.
Keywords: Macrophages; Cholesterol efflux; LXRα; PPARγ1; Sesame oil; Sesamol

Can the use of blood-based biomarkers in addition to anthropometric indices substantially improve the prediction of visceral fat volume as measured by magnetic resonance imaging? by Jasmine Neamat-Allah; Theron Johnson; Diana Nabers; Anika Hüsing; Birgit Teucher; Verena Katzke; Stefan Delorme; Rudolf Kaaks; Tilman Kühn (701-708).
To investigate whether blood-based biomarkers can improve the prediction of visceral fat volume as measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and thus be used as proxies of visceral adiposity in large-scale epidemiological studies.Whole-body MRI was performed to determine overall and regional body compartments in 542 participants aged 48–80 years (52 % men) of the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Anthropometric measures were taken, and clinical chemistry profiles including 15 routine biomarkers were obtained. Furthermore, nine novel biomarkers of visceral fat were assayed in a discovery sample of 100 participants. Multivariable regression models were calculated to assess associations between anthropometric variables, biomarkers, and visceral fat volume.The proportion of variance in visceral fat volume explained by anthropometric measures was 65.2 % in women and 60.8 % in men. By using blood-based biomarkers in addition to anthropometric indices, the variance in visceral fat volume explained could be increased by 4.8 % in women and 4.0 % in men. After backward selection, HbA1c, triglycerides, and adiponectin remained in the final multivariable regression model in women, while in men hsCRP, leukocytes, AST (GOT), GGT, LDL, and adiponectin remained in the final model.In the present study, blood-based biomarkers moderately improved the prediction of visceral fat volume. This finding suggests that the underestimation of true associations between visceral fat and disease outcomes in epidemiological studies remains critical, even when using comprehensive sets of anthropometric and biomarker variables as proxies of visceral adiposity.
Keywords: Adiposity; Biomarkers; Prediction; Visceral fat; MRI

Angiotensin II alters the expression of duodenal iron transporters, hepatic hepcidin, and body iron distribution in mice by Soichiro Tajima; Yasumasa Ikeda; Hideaki Enomoto; Mizuki Imao; Yuya Horinouchi; Yuki Izawa-Ishizawa; Yoshitaka Kihira; Licht Miyamoto; Keisuke Ishizawa; Koichiro Tsuchiya; Toshiaki Tamaki (709-719).
Angiotensin II (ANG II) has been shown to affect iron metabolism through alteration of iron transporters, leading to increased cellular and tissue iron contents. Serum ferritin, a marker of body iron storage, is elevated in various cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension. However, the associated changes in iron absorption and the mechanism underlying increased iron content in a hypertensive state remain unclear.The C57BL6/J mice were treated with ANG II to generate a model of hypertension. Mice were divided into three groups: (1) control, (2) ANG II-treated, and (3) ANG II-treated and ANG II receptor blocker (ARB)-administered (ANG II–ARB) groups.Mice treated with ANG II showed increased serum ferritin levels compared to vehicle-treated control mice. In ANG II-treated mice, duodenal divalent metal transporter-1 and ferroportin (FPN) expression levels were increased and hepatic hepcidin mRNA expression and serum hepcidin concentration were reduced. The mRNA expression of bone morphogenetic protein 6 and CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein alpha, which are regulators of hepcidin, was also down-regulated in the livers of ANG II-treated mice. In terms of tissue iron content, macrophage iron content and renal iron content were increased by ANG II treatment, and these increases were associated with reduced expression of transferrin receptor 1 and FPN and increased expression of ferritin. These changes induced by ANG II treatment were ameliorated by the administration of an ARB.Angiotensin II (ANG II) altered the expression of duodenal iron transporters and reduced hepcidin levels, contributing to the alteration of body iron distribution.
Keywords: Iron metabolism; Angiotensin II; Hepcidin; Ferritin

Feasibility of dietary assessment methods, other tools and procedures for a pan-European food consumption survey among infants, toddlers and children by Marga Ocké; Henny Brants; Marcela Dofkova; Heinz Freisling; Caroline van Rossum; Jiri Ruprich; Nadia Slimani; Elisabeth Temme; Ellen Trolle; Stefanie Vandevijvere; Inge Huybrechts; Evelien de Boer (721-732).
To test the feasibility of tools and procedures for a pan-European food consumption survey among children 0–10 years and to recommend one of two tested dietary assessment methods.Two pilot studies including 378 children were conducted in Belgium and the Czech Republic in the Pilot studies for Assessment of Nutrient intake and food Consumption among Kids in Europe. One protocol included a 3-day food diary which was checked with a parent, and data were entered afterwards using EPIC-Soft. The alternative protocol consisted of two non-consecutive 1-day food diaries followed by EPIC-Soft completion interviews. Both protocols included general and food propensity questionnaires and anthropometric measurements. The protocols were compared using evaluation questionnaires among the participating parents and study personnel.The parents found the questionnaires and instructions for filling in the food diaries understandable. Food description and food quantification was evaluated as problematic by 29 and 15 % of the participants for the 3-day diaries versus 15 and 12 % for the 1-day diaries. The protocol with 1-day food diaries was evaluated as less burdensome by the parents and logistically more challenging by the interviewers.Both dietary assessment methods with related tools and administration protocols were evaluated as feasible. The administration protocol with two 1-day food diaries with completion interviews offers more advantages for the future pan-European survey in children 0–10 years. The positive evaluation of feasibility of tools and materials is an important step towards harmonised food consumption data at European level among the younger age groups.
Keywords: Europe; Food consumption survey; Dietary assessment; Children; Infants; Feasibility

Choline concentrations are lower in postnatal plasma of preterm infants than in cord plasma by Wolfgang Bernhard; Marco Raith; Rebecca Kunze; Vera Koch; Martin Heni; Christoph Maas; Harald Abele; Christian F. Poets; Axel R. Franz (733-741).
Choline is essential to human development, particularly of the brain in the form of phosphatidylcholine, sphingomyelin and acetylcholine, for bile and lipoprotein formation, and as a methyl group donator. Choline is actively transported into the fetus, and maternal supply correlates with cognitive outcome. Interruption of placental supply may therefore impair choline homeostasis in preterm infants.Determination of postnatal plasma concentrations of choline and its derivatives betaine and dimethylglycine (DMG) in preterm infants compared to cord and maternal blood matched for postmenstrual age (PMA).We collected plasma of very low-birth-weight infants undergoing neonatal intensive care (n = 162), cord plasma of term and preterm infants (n = 176, 24–42-week PMA), serum of parturients (n = 36), and plasma of healthy premenopausal women (n = 40). Target metabolites were analyzed with tandem mass spectrometry and reported as median (25th/75th percentiles).Cord plasma choline concentration was 41.4 (31.8–51.2) µmol/L and inversely correlated with PMA. In term but not in preterm infants, cord plasma choline was lower in girls than in boys. Prenatal glucocorticoid treatment did not affect choline levels in cord plasma, whereas betaine was decreased and DMG increased. In parturients and non-pregnant women, choline concentrations were 14.1 (10.3–16.9) and 8.8 (5.7–11.2) µmol/L, respectively, whereas betaine was lowest in parturients. After delivery, preterm infant plasma choline decreased to 20.8 (16.0–27.6) µmol/L within 48 h. Betaine and DMG correlated with plasma choline in all groups.In preterm infants, plasma choline decreases to 50 % of cord plasma concentrations, reflecting choline undernourishment and postnatal metabolic adaptation, and potentially contributing to impaired outcome.
Keywords: Choline deficiency; Neonate; Neurological development; Nutrition; Preterm infant

When early life growth restriction in rats is followed by attenuated postnatal growth: effects on cardiac function in adulthood by Vladislava Zohdi; James T. Pearson; Michelle M. Kett; Paul Lombardo; Michal Schneider; M. Jane Black (743-750).
Epidemiological and experimental studies demonstrate that intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) followed by accelerated postnatal growth leads to increased risk of developing cardiac disease in adulthood. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of early life growth restriction on cardiac structure and function in young adult rats. IUGR was induced in Wistar Kyoto dams through administration of a low protein diet (LPD; 8.7 % casein) during pregnancy and lactation; controls received a normal protein diet (NPD; 20 % casein). Cardiac function and structure were assessed in female NPD (n = 7) and LPD (n = 7) offspring at 18 weeks of age by echocardiography and pressure–volume techniques, and systolic blood pressure by tail–cuff sphygmomanometry.LPD offspring remained significantly smaller throughout life compared to controls. There were no differences in the levels of systolic blood pressure, left ventricular cardiac dimensions, heart rate, ejection fraction and fractional shortening of the cardiac muscle between the investigated groups. Aortic peak systolic velocity was significantly reduced in the LPD group (P = 0.02).Our findings support the idea that the programming of adult cardiovascular disease can be prevented or delayed in IUGR offspring when postnatal growth trajectory resembles that of in utero.
Keywords: Intrauterine growth restriction; Cardiac function; Systolic blood pressure; Fetal programming

Exercise in ZDF rats does not attenuate weight gain, but prevents hyperglycemia concurrent with modulation of amino acid metabolism and AKT/mTOR activation in skeletal muscle by Olasunkanmi A. J. Adegoke; Holly E. Bates; Michael A. Kiraly; Mladen Vranic; Michael C. Riddell; Errol B. Marliss (751-759).
Protein metabolism is altered in obesity, accompanied by elevated plasma amino acids (AA). Previously, we showed that exercise delayed progression to type 2 diabetes in obese ZDF rats with maintenance of β cell function and reduction in hyperglucocorticoidemia. We hypothesized that exercise would correct the abnormalities we found in circulating AA and other indices of skeletal muscle protein metabolism.Male obese prediabetic ZDF rats (7–10/group) were exercised (swimming) 1 h/day, 5 days/week from ages 6–19 weeks, and compared with age-matched obese sedentary and lean ZDF rats.Food intake and weight gain were unaffected. Protein metabolism was altered in obese rats as evidenced by increased plasma concentrations of essential AA, and increased muscle phosphorylation (ph) of Aktser473 (187 %), mTORser2448 (140 %), eIF4E-binding protein 1 (4E-BP1) (111 %), and decreased formation of 4E-BP1*eIF4E complex (75 %, 0.01 ≤ p ≤ 0.05 for all measures) in obese relative to lean rats. Exercise attenuated the increase in plasma essential AA concentrations and muscle Akt and mTOR phosphorylation. Exercise did not modify phosphorylation of S6K1, S6, and 4E-BP1, nor the formation of 4E-BP1*eIF4E complex, mRNA levels of ubiquitin or the ubiquitin ligase MAFbx. Positive correlations were observed between ph–Akt and fed circulating branched-chain AA (r = 0.56, p = 0.008), postprandial glucose (r = 0.42, p = 0.04) and glucose AUC during an IPGTT (r = 0.44, p = 0.03).Swimming exercise-induced attenuation of hyperglycemia in ZDF rats is independent of changes in body weight and could result in part from modulation of muscle AKT activation acting via alterations of systemic AA metabolism.
Keywords: Protein metabolism; mRNA translation; Branched-chain amino acids; 4E-BP1; Ubiquitin protein ligase

Lipid quantity and quality have been shown to affect serum cholesterol, adipose and serum leptin levels during prenatal and postnatal dietary supplementation of adult rats. Maternal protein deficiency during pregnancy and lactation also affects polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) levels in the offspring. The aim of the present study was to analyze the effect of α-linolenic acid (ALA; n-3) on n-3 PUFA accretion, lipid profile, leptin levels and adipose growth in normal and protein-restricted (deficient) dams and their suckling pups.Garden cress oil rich in ALA (32 %) was supplemented in the normal and protein-restricted (10 %) diets and fed to rats for 8 weeks prior to gestation and during lactation. PUFA, cholesterol, triglycerides, leptin levels and retroperitoneal white adipose tissue weight (WAT) of the dams and the pups were analyzed at 3 weeks after delivery.The serum cholesterol levels were remarkably decreased (p < 0.01), and the n-3 PUFA levels were markedly increased (p < 0.05) in the pups of lactating normal and protein-deficient dams supplemented with ALA. Triglycerides were unaltered in the dams and the pups of different dietary groups. Serum leptin levels and relative WAT weights were lower (p < 0.01) in the pups of the ALA-supplemented normal and protein-deficient dams.Maternal supplementation of ALA in normal and protein-restricted diets modulates n-3 PUFA levels, cholesterol, leptin levels and also adipose growth in the suckling offspring.
Keywords: α-Linolenic acid; Leptin; Protein deficient; Serum cholesterol; White adipose tissue

Dietary fiber intake and its association with indicators of adiposity and serum biomarkers in European adolescents: the HELENA study by Yi Lin; Inge Huybrechts; Carine Vereecken; Theodora Mouratidou; Jara Valtueña; Mathilde Kersting; Marcela González-Gross; Selin Bolca; Julia Wärnberg; Magdalena Cuenca-García; Frederic Gottrand; Elisabetta Toti; Sonia Gomez-Martínez; Evangelia Grammatikaki; Idoia Labayen; Luis A. Moreno; Michael Sjöström; John Van Camp; Romana Roccaldo; Emma Patterson; Yannis Manios; Denes Molnar; Anthony Kafatos; Kurt Widhalm; Stefaan De Henauw (771-782).
To evaluate total, energy-adjusted dietary fiber (DF), water-soluble fiber (WSF), and water-insoluble fiber (WIF) intakes in European adolescents and to investigate their association with indicators of adiposity and serum biomarkers.This study, conducted from 2006 to 2007, included 1804 adolescents aged 12.5–17.5 years (47 % males) from eight European cities completing two non-consecutive computerized 24-h dietary recalls. GLM multivariate analysis was used to investigate associations. Mean DF intake (20 g/day) of the sample met the European Food Safety Authority recommendation, but was below those of the World Health Organization and of the Institute of Medicine. Total DF, WSF and WIF intakes were higher in males (P < 0.001), but following energy-adjustments significantly higher intakes were observed among females (P < 0.001). Bread and cereals contributed most to total DF, WSF and WIF intakes, followed by potatoes and grains, energy-dense but low-nutritious foods, fruits and vegetables. Moreover, energy-adjusted WSF and WIF were positively associated with body fat percentage (BF%), waist to height ratio and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, while energy-adjusted WSF was inversely associated with serum fasting glucose (β = −0. 010, P = 0.020).Total DF intakes are rather low in European adolescents. An inverse association with serum fasting glucose might indicate a possible beneficial role of DF in preventing insulin resistance and its concomitant diseases, even though DF intakes were positively associated with adolescents’ BF%. Therefore, further longitudinal studies should elaborate on these potential beneficial effects of DF intake in the prevention of obesity and related chronic diseases.
Keywords: Dietary fiber; Adolescence; Adiposity; Biomarkers; HELENA study

The effect of green tea extract supplementation on exercise-induced oxidative stress parameters in male sprinters by Ewa Jówko; Barbara Długołęcka; Beata Makaruk; Igor Cieśliński (783-791).
Although research suggests that antioxidant supplementation can protect against exercise-induced muscle damage and oxidative stress, also delayed post-exercise muscle recovery and hindered adaptation to training were reported in the supplemented athletes.The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effects of green tea extract (GTE) supplementation on selected blood markers of oxidative stress and muscle damage in sprinters during preparatory phase of their training cycle.Sixteen sprinters participated in a double-blind, randomized, placebo (PL)-controlled crossover study, including two 4-week treatment periods with PL and GTE (980 mg polyphenols daily). The sprinters performed two repeated cycle sprint tests (RST; 4 × 15 s, with 1-min rest intervals), after PL and GTE supplementation. Blood was sampled before (at rest), 5 min after RST, and after the 24-h recovery. The activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase were measured in erythrocytes, and total polyphenols, total antioxidant capacity (TAC), uric acid (UA), albumin (AL), malondialdehyde (MDA), and creatine kinase (CK) were determined in blood plasma.Repeated cycle sprint test performed after PL induced an increase in MDA, TAC, and SOD. Moreover, an increase in UA, AL, and CK was observed after RST irrespective of experimental conditions (PL, GTE). Supplementation with GTE caused an increase in total polyphenols and TAC at rest, and a decrease in MDA and SOD after RST. No significant changes in sprint performance were noted after GTE, as compared to PL.Supplementation with GTE prevents oxidative stress induced by RST in sprinters. Furthermore, GTE supplementation does not seem to hinder training adaptation in antioxidant enzyme system. On the other hand, neither prevention of exercise-induced muscle damage, nor an improvement in sprint performance is noted after GTE administration.
Keywords: Green tea extract; Oxidative stress; Sprinters; Repeated sprint test

Short- and long-term effects of a maternal low-energy diet ad libitum during gestation and/or lactation on physiological parameters of mothers and male offspring by Maria Cláudia Alheiros-Lira; Luciana Lima Araújo; Natália Giovana Viana Trindade; Erika Maria Santos da Silva; Taisy Cinthia Ferro Cavalcante; Gisélia de Santana Muniz; Elizabeth Nascimento; Carol Góis Leandro (793-802).
To investigate the short- and long-term effects of a maternal low-energy diet ad libitum during gestation and/or lactation on mothers and their offspring.Male Wistar rats were divided into four groups according to their mother’s diet: control [C (19.0 % protein, 63.0 % carbohydrates and 18.0 % lipids, total energetic value (TEV) = 3.5 kcal/g) during gestation and lactation], low-energy diet (18 % protein, 64 % carbohydrates and 18 % lipids, TEV = 2.3 kcal/g) during gestation (LE-G), low-energy diet during lactation (LE-L) and low-energy diet during gestation and lactation (LE-GL). Additional crude fibers (10 % more purified cellulose and soluble fiber) and water (approximately 30 % greater moisture) were added to the LE diet to decrease TEV. Mother’s body weight, food intake and energy intake were recorded daily. Birth weight, growth rate, ontogeny of reflexes, physical features and biochemical parameters at 150 days old were evaluated in male offspring.Maternal low-energy diet during gestation did not affect maternal body weight and food intake. Physical features did not change but reflex ontogeny was delayed in pups from LE dams. LE-G offspring recovered body size (weight and length) while animals LE-L and LE-GL recovered their body length but remained lighter until adult life even with no change of food intake. LE-G and LE-GL showed lower plasma triglycerides and very-low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL). LE-L offspring showed hypertriglyceridemia, high VLDL-c and reduced glycaemia.Maternal low-energy diet shows discernible short- and long-term effects on offspring, and this is dependent on the time of perinatal period.
Keywords: Phenotypic plasticity; Maternal undernutrition; Growth rate; Neural development; Dyslipidemia; Rats

A mid-morning snack of almonds generates satiety and appropriate adjustment of subsequent food intake in healthy women by Sarah Hull; Roberta Re; Lucy Chambers; Ana Echaniz; Martin S. J. Wickham (803-810).
To assess the effect of consuming a mid-morning almond snack (28 and 42 g) tested against a negative control of no almonds on acute satiety responses.On three test days, 32 healthy females consumed a standard breakfast followed by 0, 28 or 42 g of almonds as a mid-morning snack and then ad libitum meals at lunch and dinner. The effect of the almond snacks on satiety was assessed by measuring energy intake (kcal) at the two ad libitum meals and subjective appetite ratings (visual analogue scales) throughout the test days.Intake at lunch and dinner significantly decreased in a dose-dependent manner in response to the almond snacks. Overall, a similar amount of energy was consumed on all three test days indicating that participants compensated for the 173 and 259 kcals consumed as almonds on the 28 and 42 g test days, respectively. Subjective appetite ratings in the interval between the mid-morning snack and lunch were consistent with dose-dependent enhanced satiety following the almond snacks. However, in the interval between lunch and dinner, appetite ratings were not dependent on the mid-morning snack.Almonds might be a healthy snack option since their acute satiating effects are likely to result in no net increase in energy consumed over a day.
Keywords: Almonds; Satiety; Appetite; Snack; Energy intake; Ad libitum ; Visual analogue scales (VAS)

Dietary approaches to control inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) may include proanthocyanidin-rich foods. Our previous research showed that a hydrophilic extract from Sicilian pistachio nut (HPE) contains substantial amounts of proanthocyanidins and possesses anti-inflammatory activities.We studied the effects of HPE and of its polymeric proanthocyanidin fraction (PPF) in a cell model that simulated some conditions of IBD, consisting of interleukin (IL)-1β-stimulated Caco-2 cells.HPE was prepared by Pistacia vera L. nuts, and PPF was isolated from HPE by adsorbance chromatography. Proanthocyanidins were quantified as anthocyanidins after acidic hydrolysis. Differentiated Caco-2 cells were pre-incubated with HPE or PPF and then were exposed to IL-1β. Cell viability and parameters associated with nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) activation were assayed. Adsorption of polymeric proanthocyanidins to the cell membrane was investigated by transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) measurements.HPE decreased prostaglandin (PG)E2 production, IL-6 and IL-8 release, and cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 expression. HPE also inhibited the increase in paracellular permeability and reduced NF-κB activation. Polymeric proanthocyanidins, tested at a concentration comparable with their content in HPE, produced effects comparable to HPE. Finally, cell exposure to PPF increases TEER of the epithelial monolayers.Our results provide evidence that pistachio nut components inhibit inflammatory response of intestinal epithelial cells in vitro and indicate polymeric proanthocyanidins as the major bioactive nut components. The protection implies inhibition of NF-κB activation and occurs in parallel with the adsorption of polymeric proanthocyanidins to cell membrane. Our findings suggest that intake of small amounts of pistachio nut can exert beneficial effects to gastrointestinal pathophysiology.
Keywords: Pistachio nut; Inflammation; Intestinal epithelium; Polyphenols; Proanthocyanidins

Rapid down-regulation of hepatic lipid metabolism by phenolic fraction from extra virgin olive oil by Paola Priore; Donatella Caruso; Luisa Siculella; Gabriele V. Gnoni (823-833).
Regular consumption of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is associated with a low incidence of atherosclerotic diseases. The phenolic component contributes to the hypolipidemic action of EVOO, although the biochemical mechanisms leading this beneficial outcome are not fully understood. Since liver plays a pivotal role in the whole body lipid homeostasis, we investigated the short-term effects of EVOO extract, with a high phenol content (HPE), on lipid synthesis in primary rat hepatocytes. Refined olive oil extract, with a low phenol content, was used throughout this study as a control.Olive oil phenols isolated with methanolic extractions were subsequently analyzed by high performance liquid chromatography, electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry, and gas chromatography mass spectrometry. Rat hepatocytes were obtained from collagenase perfusion of liver. A colorimetric assay was performed to exclude cytotoxicity of the extracts. Radioenzymatic methods were used in order to investigate hepatic lipid metabolism.HPE, dose- (0.1–50 μg/mL) and time-dependently (0.5–4 h) inhibited both lipogenesis and cholesterogenesis (n = 6, P < 0.05), as well as triglycerides synthesis (n = 5, P < 0.05). We showed that these effects are attributable to a short-term modulation by HPE of the key enzymes implicated in the abovementioned pathways (n = 5, P < 0.05).The decrease in hepatic lipid synthesis may represent a potential mechanism underlying the hypolipidemic effect of EVOO phenols.
Keywords: Cholesterogenesis; Extra virgin olive oil; Lipogenesis; Phenol extract; Rat hepatocytes; Refined olive oil

Evaluating the effect of energy-dense foods consumption on preschool children’s body mass index: a prospective analysis from 2 to 4 years of age by Catarina Durão; Milton Severo; Andreia Oliveira; Pedro Moreira; António Guerra; Henrique Barros; Carla Lopes (835-843).
The aim of this study was to study the association between the consumption of energy-dense foods at 2 years and body mass index (BMI) at 4 years, using a cross-lagged panel design.The present study included 589 children evaluated at 2 and 4 years of age, as part of the birth cohort generation XXI. Information was obtained by face-to-face interviews. Consumption of energy-dense foods (salty snacks, soft drinks, cakes, and sweets) was measured using a food frequency questionnaire. Children’s weight and height were measured by standard procedures, and BMI standard deviation scores (BMI z-scores) were calculated according to the World Health Organization. Linear regression and cross-lagged panel design models were fitted to estimate the associations between the consumption of energy-dense foods and BMI z-scores (controlled for maternal age, education and prepregnancy BMI, and children’s exact age at 2 years).The consumption of energy-dense foods at 2 years was significantly associated with their consumption at 4 years (β = 0.522, 95 % CI 0.432–0.612). Children’s BMI z-scores at 2 years were associated with posterior BMI z-scores (β = 0.747, 95 % CI 0.688–0.806). In the cross-lagged analysis, consumption of energy-dense foods at 2 years had no effect on subsequent BMI z-scores (β = −0.030, 95 % CI −0.095 to 0.035) and BMI z-scores at 2 years were not significantly associated with the consumption of energy-dense foods at 4 years (β = −0.012, 95 % CI −0.086 to 0.062).Consumption of energy-dense foods and BMI tracked over time, but the consumption of energy-dense foods at 2 years was not associated with BMI z-scores at 4 years.
Keywords: Energy-dense foods; Sugar-sweetened beverages; Preschool children; Weight; Cohort studies; Cross-lagged panel design

Cardiometabolic effects of two coffee blends differing in content for major constituents in overweight adults: a randomized controlled trial by Kerstin Kempf; Hubert Kolb; Babette Gärtner; Gerhard Bytof; Herbert Stiebitz; Ingo Lantz; Roman Lang; Thomas Hofmann; Stephan Martin (845-854).
The hypothesis was tested that coffee types differing in content of major constituents also differ with regard to cardiometabolic effects.Overweight persons (n = 118) were randomized to consume a dark roast [rich in N-methylpyridinium (NMP)] or medium roast (rich in caffeoylquinic acids, trigonelline) coffee blend for 3 months, after a washout period of 4 weeks. Before and after the intervention period, body weight and 15 further general and biochemical parameters were determined.Participants consumed an average of 4–5 cups per day. Mean body weight, body mass index and waist circumference did not change during the coffee consumption phase in either of the study groups. Systolic blood pressure decreased in the dark roast coffee group only (p < 0.05). High-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels increased in the medium roast coffee group only, and triglyceride levels increased in the dark roast coffee group only. Glucoregulation and insulin levels were not affected, although there was a small increase of hemoglobin A1c values in both groups. An increase of adiponectin levels occurred in the medium roast coffee group only and was negatively associated with NMP concentrations. Differences did not remain statistically significant after correction for multiple testing.Medium and dark roast coffee blends exert small but possibly relevant different cardiometabolic effects. Further studies of health outcomes in relation to coffee constituents seem warranted.
Keywords: Coffee; N-methylpyridinium; Coffee and health; Coffee and body weight

Guanidinoacetic acid (GAA), a precursor of creatine and an innovative dietary agent, activates γ-amino butyric acid (GABA) receptors yet clinical effects of dietary GAA on GABA metabolism are currently unknown. The main aim of this pilot research was to investigate whether GAA loading affected peripheral GABA homeostasis in healthy humans.Eight healthy male volunteers aged 22–25 years were randomized in a double-blind design to receive either GAA (three grams daily) or placebo by oral administration for 3 weeks. At baseline and after 3 weeks participants provided fasting blood samples for free plasma levels of GABA, GAA, creatine and glutamine.Following 3 weeks of intervention, plasma GABA level dropped significantly in participants receiving 3 g of GAA per day as compared to the placebo (P = 0.03). GAA loading significantly decreased plasma GABA by 88.8 nmol/L (95 % confidence interval; 5.4–172.1) after 3 weeks of intervention as compared to the baseline (P = 0.03). GAA intervention positively affected both plasma GAA and creatine (P < 0.05), while no effects of intervention were reported for plasma glutamine.Results indicate that supplemental GAA affects peripheral GABA metabolism, and potentially down-regulates GABA synthesis in peripheral tissues. Possible GABAergic action of dietary GAA adds to the safety profile of this novel dietary supplement.
Keywords: Guanidinoacetate; Creatine; γ-Amino butyric acid; Dietary

Response to Letter to the Editor from Dr. Guilford by John P. Richie Jr.; Joshua Muscat (861-861).