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Immune system regulation is of paramount importance to host survival. In settings of autoimmunity and alloimmunity, control is lost, resulting in injury to vital organs and tissues. Naturally occurring, thymic-derived T regulatory (Treg) cells that express CD4, CD25, and the forkhead box protein 3 (FoxP3) are potent suppressors of these adverse immune responses. Preclinical studies

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Adaptive Foxp3+CD4+ regulatory T (iTreg) cells develop outside the thymus under subimmunogenic antigen presentation, during chronic inflammation, and during normal homeostasis of the gut. iTreg cells are essential in mucosal immune tolerance and in the control of severe chronic allergic inflammation, and most likely are one of the main barriers to the eradication of tumors. The Foxp3+ iTreg cell repertoire is drawn from naive conventional CD4+ T cells, whereas natural Treg (nTreg) cells are selected by high-avidity interactions in the thymus.

Regulatory T cells are important for ensuring that the immune system does not attack self and does not overreact to external antigens. Understanding how these cells develop and maintain stable function provides general insights into cellular differentiation in general, as well as new opportunities for therapeutic manipulation. Herman Waldmann, Stephen Cobbold. Regulatory T Cells: Context

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The human vermiform (“worm-like”) appendix is a 5-10cm long and 0.5-1cm wide pouch that extends from the cecum of the large bowel. The architecture of the human appendix is unique among mammals, and few mammals other than humans have an appendix at all. The function of the human appendix has long been a matter of debate, with the structure often considered to be a vestige of evolutionary development despite evidence to the contrary based on comparative primate anatomy.

Calcium deficiency in the elderly is associated with low gastric acid secretion and bone loss. A new study linking defects in gastric acid secretion with bone destruction and impaired mineralization bolsters the view that calcium supplements can prevent these bone defects-but do they all work. This paper suggests that altered acidification of the stomach and specific gene deficiencies will dictate the form of calcium supplementation most suitable for the reduction and resolution of osteoporosis.

An imbalance in bone formation relative to bone resorption results in the net bone loss that occurs in osteoporosis and inflammatory bone diseases. Although it is well known how bone resorption is stimulated, the molecular mechanisms that mediate impaired bone formation are poorly understood.

Dr Mark Hyman presents an editorial exploring the functional medicine approach to mood disorders and presents an interesting case history. Full paper

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The objective of this study was to examine the effects of nattokinase supplementation on blood pressure in subjects with pre-hypertension or stage 1 hypertension. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 86 participants ranging from 20 to 80 years of age with an initial untreated systolic blood pressure (SBP) of 130 to 159 mmHg received nattokinase (2,000 FU/capsule) or a placebo capsule for 8 weeks. Seventy-three subjects completed the protocol. Compared with the control group, the net changes in SBP and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) were -5.55 mmHg (95% confidence interval [CI], -10.5 to -0.57 mmHg; p<0.05) and -2.84 mmHg (CI, -5.33 to -0.33 mmHg; p<0.05), respectively, after the 8-week intervention. The corresponding net change in renin activity was -1.17 ng/mL/h for the nattokinase group compared with the control group (p<0.05). In conclusion, nattokinase supplementation resulted in a reduction in SBP and DBP. These findings suggest that increased intake of nattokinase may play an important role in preventing and treating hypertension.

Comment: Chronic inflammation is known to be associated with increased episodes of heart attacks and with such autoimmune disorders as diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis among others. One way to fight such inflammation is through nutrition – and specifically, as researchers from the University of Bonn and the ETH Zurich have discovered, by including oregano in our diets.

Merck Published Fake Journal

Wednesday, 03 June 2009 by

Merck paid an undisclosed sum to Elsevier to produce several volumes of a publication that had the look of a peer-reviewed medical journal, but contained only reprinted or summarised articles–most of which presented data favourable to Merck products–that appeared to act solely as marketing tools with no disclosure of company sponsorship. The role of journals

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