Study under review: Cutaneous Na+ storage strengthens the antimicrobial barrier function of the skin and boosts macrophage-driven host defense
Our bodies are like walled cities. Many microorganisms live on and within us, happily coexisting and even contributing to our well-being. However, invading harmful microorganisms need to be kept out. We have several layers of defense in order to keep out marauding invaders. These include defensive physical barriers, such as the skin, as well as weaponized troops manning the parapets: our immune system, which can be subdivided into the innate and the adaptive immune systems.
The innate immune system initiates rapid, albeit nonspecific, responses to intruders. It is the front-line defense against foreign invasion. The process of inflammation is the primary component of the innate immune system. The adaptive system develops specific antibodies that recognize specific foreign invaders with amazing sensitivity and long-lasting protection. These antibodies are developed through a complicated iterative process and are continually screened and selected for pathogen specificity, which results in a type of defense that is not as immediate as that provided by the innate immunity.
The study under review describes an entirely new mechanism through which the innate immune system can ward off infections. This is a rare occurrence. If the data can be reproduced, this mechanism is undoubtedly something that will find its way into immunology textbooks in the near future. The size of the team (28 scientists) and the number of affiliations (14) that contributed to the study alone speaks volumes about the breadth of the work involved. While this research is sophisticated, one of the main players in this study is something we’re all familiar with: sodium.
The body defends itself against foreign invaders through the use of physical barriers as well as the innate and adaptive immune system. A new mechanism of the innate immune system involving sodium ions was recently described in the paper under review.
Other Articles in Issue #10 (August 2015)
Put down the apple and have some chedda
Although both cheese and meat are lumped into the “watch out!” category in hearthealth recommendations, dairy products often show neutral or positive associations with cardiovascular health. But how do cheese-rich diets fare in randomized trials when compared to other diets? This trial tested three diets against each other in a highly controlled fashion: a cheese diet, meat diet, and high-carb diet.
All up in your krill: The story on krill
Oil thus far has been fairly simplistic: it’s better than fish oil and more expensive. But there’s a reason why you can’t draw conclusions based off few studies, and successful results in one condition don’t apply to other conditions. This trial gives some of the first pieces of evidence for possible negative metabolic effects of krill oil.
Omega-3: kid-tested, mom approved?
While heart health gets much of the attention for fish oil benefits (which, incidentally, are often overstated), outcomes in children typically show more promise. This study, involving children and their parents living on the island of Mauritius, explored possible behavioral benefits to fish oil supplementation. And not just the childrens’ behavior, but the parents’ as well!
Priming the pump: carb levels for endurance exercise
If you run, cycle, or do anything long and sweaty, then you already know that carb intake is especially important for endurance activity. But recommended intakes range from around 30-60 grams, which is pretty broad. This trial can help you get to a more specific number, and possibly perform better.
A thorough trial of carb intake for diabetes
There are few conditions where carbs play as direct of a role as in type 2 diabetes. Yet the recommended carb intake levels for this condition aren’t so different than for the general population. That may change at some point, due to trials like this one, which is more highly controlled and thorough than previous lower-carb & diabetes studies.
- Interview: Elke Nelson PhD
- Interview: Marguerite McDonald, MD
“B” is for breakouts
B vitamins are commonly thought of as harmless, due to being water-soluble. As nutrition junkies know, that view lacks nuance, and B vitamins can indeed be harmful in certain situations. As an example, this elegant series of experiments sheds new light on the mechanism by which vitamin B12 may impact acne formation.
Wellness, Not Weight
By Cristen Harris, PhD
Carbs-protein or protein-carbs …
Does food order matter? Grandma always said “You have to eat your vegetables first if you want dessert!”. If you substitute “carbs” in for dessert, grandma might have hit another one out of the park. It’s possible that simply switching the order of what you eat might benefit blood sugar control, which would be a relatively easy way to address the thorny public health issue of type 2 diabetes