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Immune cells could mend broken hearts

A new research has revealed that immune system plays an important role in the heart’s response to injury, suggesting that embryonic macrophages in the heart promote healing after injury.

Now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown that two major pools of immune cells are at work in the heart. Both belong to a class of cells known as macrophages.

One appears to promote healing, while the other likely drives inflammation, which is detrimental to long-term heart function.

“Macrophages have long been thought of as a single type of cell,” first author Slava Epelman, MD, PhD, instructor in medicine, said. “Our study shows there actually are many different types of macrophages that originate in different places in the body. Some are protective and can help blood vessels grow and regenerate tissue. Others are inflammatory and can contribute to damage.”

Epelman said they found that the heart is one of the few organs with a pool of macrophages formed in the embryo and maintained into adulthood. The heart, brain and liver are the only organs that contain large numbers of macrophages that originated in the yolk sac, in very early stages of development, and they think these macrophages tend to be protective.

Studying mice, Epelman and his colleagues showed that healthy hearts maintain this population of embryonic macrophages, as well as a smaller pool of adult macrophages derived from the blood. But during cardiac stress such as high blood pressure, not only were more adult macrophages recruited from the blood and brought to the heart, they actually replaced the embryonic macrophages.

Higher vitamin D could delay dementia in PD patients

A new study, that looks into the vitamin D levels in patients with Parkinson’s disease, opens up the possibility of a new avenue of early intervention that may delay or prevent the onset of cognitive impairment and depression.

Investigators conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 286 patients with PD and found that higher plasma vitamin D levels were associated with lower symptom severity, better cognition, and less depression in the entire group, but the relationships were even stronger in those who were not demented.

“About 30 percent of persons with PD suffer from cognitive impairment and dementia, and dementia is associated with nursing home placement and shortened life expectancy,” Amie L. Peterson, MD, of the Oregon Health and Sciences University, said.“We know mild cognitive impairment may predict the future development of dementia. Intervening in the development of dementia has the potential to improve morbidity and mortality in persons with PD,” Peterson said.

In this analysis, which was an add-on study to an ongoing longitudinal study of neuropsychiatric function in people with PD, patients were given a battery of tests measuring global cognitive function, verbal memory, semantic verbal fluency, executive function, and depression. On the same day, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were measured.

Benefits of eating walnuts revealed

Nuts have gotten a bad rap for being too high in fat, but the truth about them is that nuts, especially walnuts, are a powerhouse of nutrition.

Contrary to what people believe, walnuts are actually good for weight management since an ounce of walnut contains 2.5g of omega 3 fats, 4g of protein and 2g of fibre that help provide satiety, Diabetic Living India magazine reported.

Any successful weight management plan must include the satiety factor; so walnut is undoubtedly the right food to consider if you are into a weight management programme. Despite being ‘dense in calories, walnuts can be an important tool in helping you lose weight.

These nuts can also reduce the risk of breast cancer. Eating about 28 walnut halves a day provides antioxidants and phytosterols that may help reduce the risk of the disease. The nuts can improve sleep, as they contain hormone melatonin, that induces sleep and helps regulate sleep. This makes walnuts a great evening or bedtime snack for improving your sleep.

Walnut is a good ‘hair food’ too. This is because walnut contains biotin (vitamin B7) that helps strengthen hair, reduce hair fall and improve hair growth to certain extent. Walnut oil when applied locally helps to keep skin well protected from dryness.

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