Press reviews

The development of a child's brain is a complex process involving the maturation of brain structures.

A study explored the links between mothers' dietary habits during pregnancy and their children's neurodevelopment.

The study included couples in early pregnancy. Inclusion criteria included maternal age of 18 or over, spontaneous pregnancy, and planned regular obstetric follow-ups.

After excluding multiple pregnancies and unfavorable pregnancy outcomes, 1,423 families were selected. 

Dietary data were collected using a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) covering 26 food types. These foods were administered during the three trimesters of pregnancy. Responses ranged from “almost never” to “every day”, with a score assigned to each response.

Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to identify distinct dietary patterns in each trimester. Three dietary patterns were defined per quarter: high in protein and micronutrients, low in iron, and with pasta as a staple food. The dietary patterns were named according to the foods contributing most to the main components.

Children's neurodevelopment was assessed using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire, Third Edition, at 36 months of age. This questionnaire assessed communication, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, problem-solving and personal-social skills. 

The study revealed that children of mothers following a high-protein, high-micronutrient diet had better scores in gross motor skills and problem-solving. Conversely, the children of mothers following an iron-poor diet had lower neurodevelopmental scores, particularly in problem-solving and gross motor skills.

These results underline the importance of a balanced diet rich in protein and micronutrients during pregnancy for children's brain development.

This study supports the idea that following a protein- and micronutrient-rich diet pattern during pregnancy is beneficial for children's neurodevelopment. In contrast, an iron-poor diet is associated with an increased risk of developmental delay. 

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Source(s) :
Ouyang J, Cai W, Wu P, Tong J, Gao G, Yan S, Tao F, Huang K. Association between Dietary Patterns during Pregnancy and Children's Neurodevelopment: A Birth Cohort Study. Nutrients. 2024 May 19;16(10):1530. doi: 10.3390/nu16101530. PMID: 38794768; PMCID: P ;


The discovery of biomarkers for gastric cancer screening

Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Stomach cancer, or gastric cancer, is a rare tumor that develops from the mucosal cells lining the stomach. 

Over 400 participants, half of whom had gastric cancer, were included in a study designed to identify biomarkers that could improve gastric cancer screening and follow-up.

Levels of vitamin B12, folic acid and homocysteine were measured using chemiluminescence.

Results showed significant differences between mean levels of homocysteine, vitamin B12 and folic acid in gastric cancer patients compared with controls.

Mean folic acid levels were lower in gastric cancer patients, while homocysteine levels were higher. These variations were observed independently of age, gender, histological subtype and the presence of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) infections.

The results of this study showed a correlation between high homocysteine levels and deficiencies in vitamin B12 and folic acid with an increased risk of gastric cancer. H. pylori and EBV infection have also been associated with disturbances in vitamin B12 and folic acid absorption, which may contribute to elevated homocysteine levels.

H. pylori and EBV infections are known to be associated with the development of gastric cancer, underlining the importance of further co-infection studies.

In conclusion, this study suggests that assessment of homocysteine, vitamin B12 and folic acid levels could serve as useful biomarkers for early detection and monitoring of gastric cancer.

These results reinforce the importance of these substances in gastric carcinogenesis and their potential as clinical diagnostic tools.

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Source(s) :
Alcântara FF, Sant'Anna CC, Alcântara DDFÁ, Cohen-Paes AN, Soares PC, Assumpção PP, Imbiriba MMBG, Burbano RMR. Homocystein, Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid as Screening Biomarkers in Early Diagnosis and Gastric Cancer Monitoring. Med Sci (Basel). 2024 May 6;1 ;


The triglyceride-glucose index and the risk of frailty

Endocrinology and metabolism

Frailty is a geriatric syndrome associated with increased vulnerability to external stresses. It affects between 7% and 24% of the elderly and is associated with reduced muscle mass. Frailty increases the risk of falls, disability, hospitalization and mortality, representing a major threat to public health.
Insulin resistance, characterized by reduced sensitivity to insulin, is implicated in the genesis of numerous pathologies such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease and cognitive impairment. The triglyceride-glucose index (TyG), calculated from fasting triglyceride and fasting glucose levels, is a reliable indicator of insulin resistance.

In this study, researchers explored the relationships between the TyG index and various parameters associated with frailty, taking into account associated indices such as the triglyceride-glucose-waist circumference ratio (TyG-WC), the TyG-height ratio (TyG-WHtR), and the TyG-body mass index ratio (TyG-BMI).
Binary and stratified logistic regression analyses were conducted.
The results showed that the TyG index and its associated indices were positively correlated with frailty. The highest quartiles of TyG, TyG-WC, TyG-WHtR and TyG-BMI were significantly associated with an increased prevalence of frailty.

The authors concluded that elevated levels of TyG and its associated indices were associated with an increased prevalence of frailty.
In conclusion, this study highlights the importance of monitoring and managing TyG and its associated indices to prevent frailty in elderly populations.
Interventions targeting glycemic, lipid and abdominal obesity control could be beneficial in reducing the incidence of frailty.

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Source(s) :
Yin H, Guo L, Zhu W, Li W, Zhou Y, Wei W, Liang M. Association of the triglyceride-glucose index and its related parameters with frailty. Lipids Health Dis. 2024 May 21;23(1):150. doi: 10.1186/s12944-024-02147-4. PMID: 38773587; PMCID: PMC11107008. ;

Kidney cancer accounts for over 13,000 cases per year in France, affecting men twice as much as women.
Metabolic syndrome is characterized by the presence of several physiological disorders, including hypertension, obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertriglyceridemia and hyperglycemia.

The researchers explored the link between metabolic syndrome and the risk of developing kidney cancer using data from the UK BioBank, comprising over 300,000 individuals aged 37 to 73.

Cox regression models were used to calculate risk ratios adjusted for various factors, including age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, lifestyle habits, and body mass index (BMI). Subgroup analyses were performed to explore differences by gender, age, BMI, smoking status and alcohol consumption status.

Of the 355,678 participants, 1,203 developed kidney cancer during a median follow-up of 11 years. Participants with metabolic syndrome had a significantly higher risk of kidney cancer than metabolically healthy participants. The risk increased in proportion to the number of metabolic abnormalities present. 

The results also showed that individuals with both metabolic syndrome and high genetic risk (assessed by a polygenic risk score, PRS) had the highest risk of kidney cancer.

This prospective study demonstrated a strong link between metabolic syndrome and kidney cancer risk, reinforcing the hypothesis that metabolic abnormalities play a crucial role in the development of kidney cancer. 

This study concludes that metabolic status is associated with an increased risk of kidney cancer, with hypertension, dyslipidemia and obesity identified as the main metabolic risk factors. These findings offer new insights into the etiology of kidney cancer, and underline the importance of including metabolic status in primary prevention strategies. 

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Source(s) :
Wang L, Du H, Sheng C, Dai H, Chen K. Association between metabolic syndrome and kidney cancer risk: a prospective cohort study. Lipids Health Dis. 2024 May 17;23(1):142. doi: 10.1186/s12944-024-02138-5. PMID: 38760801; PMCID: PMC11100063. ;

Constipation may be evoked when the usual rhythm of bowel movements is disturbed: less than three bowel movements per week. The worldwide prevalence of constipation is estimated at around 14%. It affects women more than men.  

In this study, researchers investigated the relationship between dietary intake of vitamin B1 (thiamine) and the incidence of chronic constipation in adults.  

The study included 10,371 adults aged 20 and over, who provided detailed information on their dietary habits.

Multiple logistic regression analysis showed that increasing dietary intake of vitamin B1 was associated with a significant reduction in the risk of constipation.  

These results suggest that increased vitamin B1 intake may facilitate softer stools and increased colonic peristalsis, which could explain the reduction in constipation.

This study demonstrates an inverse correlation between dietary vitamin B1 intake and the prevalence of chronic constipation in adults, particularly in men, non-hypertensives, and non-diabetics. The results suggest that improving dietary intake of vitamin B1 could be a potential therapeutic approach for the management of constipation. 

The researchers recommend that healthcare professionals encourage a balanced diet rich in vitamin B1 before considering medical interventions to treat constipation.

Thiamine therefore plays a crucial role in energy metabolism, and thiamine deficiency can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation. By supporting essential metabolic functions, vitamin B1 could improve intestinal motility and reduce constipation symptoms.  

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Source(s) :
Du W, Lu L, Liu Y, Yan Y, La R, Wu Q, Xu J, Zhou X. The association between dietary vitamin B1 intake and constipation: a population-based study. BMC Gastroenterol. 2024 May 17;24(1):171. doi: 10.1186/s12876-024-03255-2. PMID: 38760704; PMCID: PMC11100033 ;

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men over 50. Currently, the overall survival of a patient with castration-resistant metastatic prostate cancer is estimated at 36 months.

Current first-line therapeutic approaches to this cancer include antiandrogens with abiraterone and chemotherapy with docetaxel and cabazitaxel.

The study by Duojie Zhang et al examined these first-line therapeutic strategies through a network meta-analysis. The main objective of this study was to assess the relative efficacy and safety of these therapeutic strategies.

Efficacy was compared in terms of overall survival and incidence of serious adverse events.

Results showed that docetaxel+prednisone and cabazitaxel+prednisone significantly improved overall survival, while abiraterone did not.

The combination of cabazitaxel + prednisone was recommended as the primary choice for first-line treatment of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, due to its favorable safety profile and comparable efficacy at higher doses.

This study also highlighted the importance of considering the molecular and genetic characteristics of tumors to optimize patient outcomes.

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Source(s) :
Zhang D, Weng H, Zhu Z, Gong W, Ma Y. Evaluating first-line therapeutic strategies for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer: a comprehensive network meta-analysis and systematic review. Front Oncol. 2024 Apr 15;14:1378993. doi: 10.3389/fonc.202 ;


Migraine and gut microbiota

Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Migraine attacks are considered as neurological disease. In addition to genetic and environmental factors, gut microbiota may be involved in the onset of these attacks. Recent studies have shown that dysbiosis of gut microbiota can affect the release of neurotransmitters and inflammatory mediators. This dysbiosis could therefore increase the risk of migraine.  

In this study, researchers assessed the link between gut microbiota and migraine using a Mendelian randomization approach.

The results showed that certain species present in gut microbiota, such as Lachnospiraceae, were associated with an increased risk of migraine, while other species, such as Blautia and Eubacterium, were associated with a reduced risk of migraine.

In addition, specific metabolic pathways linked to the synthesis of methionine and plasma hydrocinnamate, a metabolite influenced by Blautia and Bacteroides fragilis, were also associated with a reduced risk of migraine.  
The authors conclude that certain components of gut microbiota may play a role in modulating migraine risk, underlining the importance of the gut-brain axis in migraine pathology.

This study offers new insights into potential targets for therapeutic interventions to treat or prevent migraine by modulating gut microbiota.  

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Source(s) :
Qu, K., Li, M., Lin, G., Cui, Z., Li, J., Yang, R., & Ming, D. (2024). To analyze the relationship between gut microbiota, metabolites and migraine: a two-sample Mendelian randomization study. Frontiers in Microbiology, 15 ;

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is characterized by an accumulation of fat in the liver, irrespective of excessive alcohol consumption. The advanced stage of this disease is called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

In this study, changes in the gut microbiota associated with progression from NAFLD to NASH were analyzed with the aim of better understanding the differences between the microbiota of patients with NAFLD and NASH.

Gut microbiota composition was compared in three groups, healthy controls, NAFLD patients and NASH patients. It was collected using the rRNA sequencing technique on participants recruited from the Shenzhen Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital who provided stool samples.

A significant decrease in the diversity of intestinal flora was observed in patients with NAFLD and NASH, with a higher abundance of "Bacteroidetes" and "Fusobacteria". Conversely, a lower abundance of "Firmicutes" was found in these patients.

A significant decrease in "Prevotella" was observed in NAFLD patients, while an increase in "Megamonas" and "Fusobacterium" was noted in NASH patients.

This study highlights the important changes in gut microbiota composition in the progression from NAFLD to NASH. It proposes solutions that could facilitate the discovery of new biomarkers and therapeutic targets to combat NAFLD.

In conclusion, the authors of this study suggest that microbiome-based interventions could be developed to prevent or treat this disease non-invasively.  

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Source(s) :
Huang, F., Lyu, B., Xie, F., Li, F., Xing, Y., Han, Z., Lai, J., Ma, J., Zou, Y., Zeng, H., Xu, Z., Gao, P., Luo, Y., Bolund, L., Tong, G., & Fengping, X. (2024). From gut to liver: unveiling the differences of intestinal microbiota in NAFL and NASH patie ;

Low back pain is a pain in the lumbar vertebrae at the base of the back, short or long duration. This pain has a strong impact on mobility, and can have quite negative consequences on quality of life.

Here, researchers carried out a cross-sectional study on 17,084 people aged 15 and over. Binary multivariate logistic regression was used to study factors associated with the onset of low back pain. Complementary post hoc analyses were conducted to assess the mediating effect of depressive symptoms on the onset of low back pain according to gender.

The results of this cross-sectional study showed that older people had a higher incidence of developing low back pain, mainly older women.

In addition to gender and age, overweight and obesity were also identified as factors favoring the onset of low back pain.

Post hoc analyses revealed that depressive symptoms had a partial mediating effect on the relationship between gender and low back pain. Women are more depressed than men, increasing their risk of developing low back pain. Depressive symptoms could explain part of the association between female gender and a higher prevalence of low back pain.

Targeting depression could therefore reduce the prevalence of low back pain, particularly in women. Behavioural factors, such as body mass index, also play an important role, underlining the need for integrated prevention and treatment strategies that address both the physical and mental aspects of health.  

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Source(s) :
Yıldız, N.G., Aydin, H.Z., Sambo, G. et al. The mediating role of depressive symptoms among Turkish population related to gender and low back pain: evidence from a national health survey. BMC Public Health ;

The renin-angiotensin system is a hormonal system that regulates blood pressure. In addition to controlling blood pressure, this hormonal system interacts in a complex way with the dopaminergic system. This interaction is of particular interest in the context of neurodegeneration, notably Parkinson's disease.

The main protein of the renin-angiotensin system, angiotensin II, acts via two main G protein-coupled receptors, AT1 and AT2. Activation of the AT1 receptor is associated with pro-oxidative and pro-inflammatory effects. These effects promote oxidative stress and neurological inflammation, which are strongly implicated in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease. Conversely, activation of the AT2 receptor limits oxidative stress and neurological inflammation.

A dysregulation of the renin-angiotensin system, more specifically an imbalance in favor of the pro-oxidative/pro-inflammatory axis, has been observed in several animal models and patients with Parkinson's disease. It has been correlated with accelerated progression of dopaminergic neuron degeneration.  

Activation of the anti-oxidative axis by the AT2 receptor or inhibition of the pro-oxidative axis appear to be important therapeutic strategies in the fight against Parkinson's disease.

In conclusion, the renin-angiotensin system plays a crucial role in the regulation of neurodegenerative processes. It could be a promising target for the development of therapeutic strategies aimed at attenuating the progression of Parkinson's disease.

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Source(s) :
Labandeira-Garcia, J.L., Labandeira, C.M., Guerra, M.J. et al. The role of the brain renin-angiotensin system in Parkinson´s disease. Transl Neurodegener 13, 22 (2024). ;

Mesenchymal stem cells play a crucial role in tissue regeneration and immune system modulation. They secrete bioactive factors involved in tissue repair and inflammation reduction. They are particularly important in the fight against thymus aging.
With age, the thymus undergoes an involution characterized by reduced lymphocyte production. This is due to a reduced number of thymic epithelial cells. 
In this study, aged macaques were treated with mesenchymal stem cells. The methodological approach involved administration of these mesenchymal stem cells by intravenous injection into the femoral vein. The changes induced by these cells were assessed using histological and molecular methods such as hematoxylin and eosin staining, immunofluorescence and ELISA assays.
The results showed a significant improvement in thymus structure and function in these aged macaques. DNA methylation analyses revealed significant epigenetic modifications. Methylation was increased in regions of 501 genes and decreased in regions of 591 genes. These epigenetic modifications were associated with either negative or positive regulation of cell growth and proliferation.

Mesenchymal stem cells can reverse the signs of thymic aging through targeted epigenetic modifications. The underlying molecular mechanisms include adjustments in DNA methylation profiles that regulate gene expression in thymic epithelial cells. These adjustments reduce cell apoptosis.
Promising new strategy to combat thymus aging...

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Source(s) :
Yang, Z., Tian, C., He, Z., Zhu, X., He, J., Pan, H., Li, Y., Ruan, G., Wu, X., & Pan, X. (2024). Mesenchymal stem cells reverse thymus aging by reprogramming the DNA methylation of thymic epithelial cells. Regenerative Therapy, 27, 126‑169 ;

Regular physical activity is highly recommended for a healthy heart, mind and body. Sufficient physical activity helps maintain a healthy body weight, reduce inflammation and improve metabolism. It helps prevent or better treat most illnesses, such as gastrointestinal and liver diseases. Conversely, a sedentary lifestyle encourages the onset of these diseases.

In this study, researchers used a Mendelian randomization method to analyze the correlation between physical activity, sedentary behavior and gastrointestinal and liver diseases.  

A genome-wide association study identified screen time as an indicator of a sedentary lifestyle, and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Multivariable Mendelian randomization was used to adjust for possible cross-effects and confounding factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption.

The results of this study indicated that longer exposure to screens was associated with an increased risk of developing several gastrointestinal diseases such as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, gastric and duodenal ulcers, chronic gastritis and various liver diseases.
Conversely, regular moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was associated with a lower prevalence of developing these diseases.

These associations were validated by several robust sensitivity analyses, reinforcing the validity of the conclusions. Several complementary approaches were also taken to ensure the robustness of these results.

These results highlight the importance of regular physical activity and active behavior in preventing various gastrointestinal and liver diseases. Physicians are encouraged to advise their patients to adopt an active lifestyle to improve their gastrointestinal and liver health.     

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Source(s) :
Chen, J., Ruan, X., Fu, T., Lu, S., Gill, D., He, Z., Burgess, S., Giovannucci, E. L., Larsson, S. C., Deng, M., Yuan, S., & Li, X. (2024). Sedentary lifestyle, physical activity, and gastrointestinal diseases: evidence from mendelian randomization analys ;

Sarcopenia, often defined as the progressive loss of muscle mass and strength, represents a growing public health challenge, particularly in the elderly. This geriatric syndrome is associated with an increased risk of falls, reduced quality of life and increased mortality. Although several factors are involved, including physical inactivity and aging, diet appears to play a crucial role in the prevention and management of sarcopenia.

A recent cross-sectional study from southern Italy explored the relationship between dietary patterns and sarcopenia in adults aged 50 and over, with a particular focus on the Mediterranean diet. This study included 528 individuals who underwent testing at the clinical nutrition unit of the "R.Dulbecco" University Hospital. Strength was assessed using hand grip strength. Appendicular skeletal muscle mass was estimated using bioelectrical impedance analysis. Information on food intake was collected using a food frequency questionnaire.

The results of this study revealed four distinct dietary patterns:

- A 'Western' model
- A 'Mediterranean' model
- A 'High-fat' model
- A 'Carnivorous' model

Only the "Western" and "Mediterranean" models showed correlations with grip strength and appendicular skeletal muscle mass. Notably, the Mediterranean model was significantly associated with better grip strength and higher muscle mass. This model showed a negative correlation with sarcopenia. High adherence to the Mediterranean model was associated with a significant reduction in the prevalence of sarcopenia, compared with low adherence.

Adjusted multinomial logistic regression analysis confirmed these associations. This analysis showed that low adherence to the Mediterranean model was significantly associated with a higher prevalence of sarcopenia.

These results underline the importance of high adherence to the Mediterranean diet for the prevention of sarcopenia in the elderly.

In conclusion, this study reinforces the notion that the Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetables, fruit, legumes, cereals, with limited consumption of meat and dairy products, plays a key role in the prevention of sarcopenia in older adults.  

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Source(s) :
Mazza E. et al. Association of dietary patterns with sarcopenia in adults aged 50 years and older. European Journal Of Nutrition (Print) ;

In this secondary analysis of a single-center prospective registry, data from 2,411 infants were included, 76 of whom were diagnosed with invasive infections. The aim of the study was to analyze the performance of commonly used blood tests in febrile infants under 90 days of age. The researchers defined three groups of patients, based on the hours of fever reported by caregivers: less than 2 hours, between 2 and 12 hours, and more than 12 hours. The median duration of fever was 4 hours. The area under the curve was significantly lower in infants with fever lasting less than 2 hours for two biomarkers: absolute neutrophil count and C-reactive protein, but not for procalcitonin.

Source(s) :
Roberto Velasco et al. Performance of Febrile Infant Algorithms by Duration of Fever. Pediatrics. 2024 Apr 2:e2023064342 ;


New data on the mechanism of action of antipsychotics

Pharmacology and toxicology

The 5-HT2A serotonin receptor is involved in both schizophrenia and the mode of action of antipsychotic drugs. While antipsychotic drugs have a certain efficacy in treating the symptoms of schizophrenia, they are associated with side effects, some of them major. To find out more about the mechanism of action of antipsychotic drugs, researchers have used bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) tests. They were able to work out the signaling signatures of six antipsychotic drugs, all acting on the 5-HT2A receptor. Risperidone, clozapine, olanzapine and haloperidol showed selective G-protein inverse agonist activity. In addition, selective partial G-protein agonism was observed for aripiprazole and cariprazine.

Source(s) :
Supriya A Gaitonde et al. Pharmacological fingerprint of antipsychotic drugs at the serotonin 5-HT2A receptor. Mol Psychiatry. 2024 Apr 2. ;