Adult Stem Cell Study Suggests Fish Oil May Help With Depression

A study published in Molecular Psychiatry shows that patient-derived adult stem cells can be used to model major depressive disorder and test how a patient may respond to medication.

Using stem cells from adults with a clinical diagnosis of depression, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) researchers who conducted the study also found that fish oil, when tested in the model, created an antidepressant response.

UIC’s Mark Rasenick, PhD, principal investigator of the study and a UIC distinguished professor of physiology and biophysics and psychiatry at the College of Medicine, says that the research provides a number of novel findings that can help scientists better understand how the brain works and why some people respond to drug treatment for depression, while others experience limited benefits from antidepressant medication.

“It was also exciting to find scientific evidence that fish oil—an easy-to-get, natural product—may be an effective treatment for depression,” Rasenick says.

Major depressive disorder, or depression, is the most common psychiatric disorder. Around 1 in 6 individuals will experience at least one depressive episode in their lifetime. However, antidepressant treatment fails in about one-third of patients.

In the study, the UIC researchers used skin cells from adults with depression that were converted into stem cells at Massachusetts General Hospital and then directed those stem cells to develop into nerve cells. The skin biopsies were taken from two types of patients: people who previously responded to antidepressant treatment and people who have previously been resistant to antidepressants.

When fish oil was tested, the models from treatment-sensitive and treatment-resistant patients both responded.

Rasenick says the response was similar to that seen from prescription antidepressants, but it was produced through a different mechanism.

“We saw that fish oil was acting, in part, on glial cells, not neurons,” says Rasenick, who’s also a research career scientist at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center and president and chief scientific officer at Pax Neuroscience, a UIC startup company. “For many years, scientists have paid scant attention to glia—a type of brain cell that surrounds neurons—but there’s increasing evidence that glia may play a role in depression. Rasenick’s study suggests that glia may also be important for antidepressant action.

“Our study also showed that a stem cell model can be used to study response to treatment and that fish oil as a treatment, or companion to treatment, for depression warrants further investigation,” Rasenick says.

Source: University of Illinois

French-style Salmon with Green Peppercorn


1 tbsp butter
2 or 3 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp brandy (optional)
4 tbsp dry white wine
6 tbsp fish or chicken stock
1/2 cup whipping cream
2-3 tbsp green peppercorns in brine, rinsed
1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 pieces salmon fillet (6-7 oz each)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh parsley, to garnish


  1. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for about 1-2 minutes until just softened.
  2. Add the brandy, if using, and the white wine, then add the stock and boil to reduce by three-quarters, stirring occasionally.
  3. Reduce the heat, then add the cream and half the peppercorns, crushing them slightly with the back of a spoon. Cook very gently for 4-5 minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened, then strain and stir in the remaining peppercorns. Keep the sauce warm over a very low heat, stirring occasionally, while you cook the salmon.
  4. In a large heavy frying pan, heat the oil over a medium-high heat until very hot. Lightly season the salmon and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the flesh is opaque throughout. To check, pierce the fish with the tip of a sharp knife; the juices should run clear.
  5. Arrange the fish on warmed plates and pour over the sauce. Garnish with parsley.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: French Delicious Classic Cuisine Made Easy

Video: How One of the Best Sourdough Croissants in Paris is Made

When bakers Erwan Blanche and Sébastien Bruno graduated culinary school, they couldn’t seem to find a spot in Paris that sold bread, brioche, and pastries in the same place, let alone ones that were homemade, good quality, and affordably priced. That’s when they opened Boulangerie Utopie Bakery, known for one of the most coveted and innovative sourdough croissants in Paris.

Watch video at You Tube (4:19 minutes) . . . . .

Are Your Gums Saying Sonething About Your Dementia Risk?

Gum disease, especially the kind that is irreversible and causes tooth loss, may be associated with mild cognitive impairment and dementia 20 years later, according to a study published in the online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“We looked at people’s dental health over a 20-year period and found that people with the most severe gum disease at the start of our study had about twice the risk for mild cognitive impairment or dementia by the end,” said study author Ryan T. Demmer, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis. “However, the good news was that people with minimal tooth loss and mild gum disease were no more likely to develop thinking problems or dementia than people with no dental problems.”

The study involved 8,275 people with an average age of 63 who did not have dementia at the start of the study. The participants were assessed for mild cognitive impairment and dementia. Participants received a full periodontal exam that included measuring gum probing depth, amount of bleeding and recession.

Then participants were put into groups based on the severity and extent of their gum disease and number of lost teeth, with implants counting as lost teeth. At the start of the study, 22% had no gum disease, 12% had mild gum disease, 12% had severe gum inflammation, 8% had some tooth loss, 12% had disease in their molars, 11% had severe tooth loss, 6% had severe gum disease, and 20% had no teeth at all.

A total of 4,559 people was assessed at the end of the study, when they had been followed for an average of 18 years.

Overall, 1,569 people developed dementia during the study, or 19%. This was the equivalent of 11.8 cases per every 1,000 person-years. The study found that of the people who had healthy gums and all their teeth at the start of the study, 264 out of 1,826, or 14%, developed dementia by the end of the study. For those with mild gum disease, 623 out of 3,470, or 18%, developed dementia. For participants with severe gum disease, 306 out of 1,368, or 22%, developed dementia. And 376 out of 1,611, or 23%, developed dementia in the group that had no teeth. This was equal to a rate of 16.9 cases per 1,000 person-years.

When looking at both mild cognitive impairment and dementia, the group with no teeth had about twice the risk compared to participants with healthy gums and all their teeth. People with intermediate or severe gum disease, but who still had some teeth, had a 20% greater risk of developing mild cognitive impairment or dementia compared to the healthy group. These risks were after researchers accounted for other factors that could affect dementia risk, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and smoking.

“Good dental hygiene is a proven way to keep healthy teeth and gums throughout your lifetime. Our study does not prove that an unhealthy mouth causes dementia and only shows an association. Further study is needed to demonstrate the link between microbes in your mouth and dementia, and to understand if treatment for gum disease can prevent dementia,” Demmer said.

A limitation of the study is the fact that initial gum examinations were made when the participants had an average age of 63, and it is possible that cognitive decline might have been begun before the start of gum disease and tooth loss.

Source: American Academy of Neurology

5 Easy Ways to Keep Tabs on Heart Health

Tracking a few simple numbers can be a big help in keeping tabs on heart health.

But you need to pay attention to those numbers long before your doctor says they’re an urgent concern, said Nicole Spartano, a research assistant professor in the department of endocrinology, diabetes, nutrition and weight management at Boston University School of Medicine.

She likened it to watching warning signs on a highway: Paying attention now alerts you to problems that might appear down the road.

“Just because you haven’t reached whatever threshold is there for the diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in the clear in terms of whatever physiological measure you’re tracking,” she said.

Blood pressure is particularly crucial, said Dr. Raymond R. Townsend, professor of medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

“There is nothing more important to living longer, and living with a functioning heart and brain, than attending to an elevated blood pressure,” he said. “You need to be sure of what your BP numbers are because if you don’t measure it, you cannot manage it.”

A health care provider can tell you specific targets. But in general, here are some important ones to track.

Blood pressure

Blood pressure is a measure of the force of your blood as it pushes against blood vessel walls. The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association define normal blood pressure as a reading of less than 120/80 mmHg. Top number, or systolic, readings of 130-139 or bottom, diastolic, readings of 80-89 mmHg are considered Stage 1 hypertension. Consistent readings of 140/90 mmHg or higher are considered Stage 2 hypertension.

Townsend said even in the pandemic, it’s important to work with a health care provider to make sure you’re getting accurate readings.

“If you have access to a home blood pressure kit, we rely on in-home readings to help us manage blood pressure,” he said. Use a validated monitor – a list is available at – and check it once a year against a medical-grade device at a doctor’s office or clinic.

“The key is taking it correctly,” he said. “Even the most validated monitor will yield bad readings if you don’t prepare yourself to have a BP measurement, position yourself correctly, and take the actual readings properly.”

Blood sugar

Also known as blood glucose, blood sugar comes from the food you eat. In a fasting blood sugar test, readings of 100 to 125 mg/dL are considered prediabetes, which means a risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Readings of 126 or higher on more than one occasion are considered diabetes.

Spartano said it’s relatively easy to monitor blood glucose at home. “I wouldn’t say it’s necessary for everyone, but it definitely is of interest to some people. And some of those glucometers do connect to apps.”


A blood test will show levels of different types of this waxy, fat-like substance in your blood that is linked to cardiovascular disease. A doctor can use these results, along with the other numbers, to give a detailed assessment of heart disease risk.

There are at-home cholesterol tests, but Spartano doesn’t recommend them.

Body mass index or waist measurement

These are measures of obesity. If you know your height and weight, you can use an online calculator, such as the one at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. And research shows waist-to-hip ratio measurement may be a better indicator of heart attack risk than body mass index, especially in women.


Adults need at least seven hours of sleep a night, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society. But sleeping too much may be just as harmful as sleeping too little.

Recent research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found sleeping less than six hours a night or more than nine was associated with poorer cardiovascular health.

Overall, Spartano, whose work includes collecting data from fitness trackers for the long-running Framingham Heart Study, said tracking your numbers doesn’t have to be complicated. Apps can help, but the age-old method of writing in a diary works well, too.

The mere act of tracking can help you initiate healthy changes, she said.

She also emphasized the importance of one more number: 150. That’s the minimum weekly number of minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise recommended for adults. But you don’t have to start at that level.

“It seems maybe daunting, but actually the most significant benefit is going from very little to just slightly more activity, and that can be at any intensity level,” she said.

Healthy eating also is crucial, Spartano said.

And nobody should feel frustrated if all of these efforts take time, she said. “Just because you don’t see any single one of these numbers changing doesn’t mean that you’re not improving your health in a different way.”

Source : American Heart Association

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