Study Title:

Blueberries May Prevent Many Nerve Diseases

Study Abstract

Exposure to a variety of toxins and/or infectious agents leads to disease, degeneration and death, often characterised by circumstances in which cells or tissues do not merely die and cease to function but may be more or less entirely obliterated. It is then legitimate to ask the question as to whether, despite the many kinds of agent involved, there may be at least some unifying mechanisms of such cell death and destruction. I summarise the evidence that in a great many cases, one underlying mechanism, providing major stresses of this type, entails continuing and autocatalytic production (based on positive feedback mechanisms) of hydroxyl radicals via Fenton chemistry involving poorly liganded iron, leading to cell death via apoptosis (probably including via pathways induced by changes in the NF-κB system). While every pathway is in some sense connected to every other one, I highlight the literature evidence suggesting that the degenerative effects of many diseases and toxicological insults converge on iron dysregulation. This highlights specifically the role of iron metabolism, and the detailed speciation of iron, in chemical and other toxicology, and has significant implications for the use of iron chelating substances (probably in partnership with appropriate anti-oxidants) as nutritional or therapeutic agents in inhibiting both the progression of these mainly degenerative diseases and the sequelae of both chronic and acute toxin exposure. The complexity of biochemical networks, especially those involving autocatalytic behaviour and positive feedbacks, means that multiple interventions (e.g. of iron chelators plus antioxidants) are likely to prove most effective. A variety of systems biology approaches, that I summarise, can predict both the mechanisms involved in these cell death pathways and the optimal sites of action for nutritional or pharmacological interventions.

From press release:

Eating purple fruits such as blueberries and drinking green tea can help ward off diseases including Alzheimer's, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson's, a University of Manchester report claims.

New research from Professor Douglas Kell, published in the journal Archives of Toxicology, has found that the majority of debilitating illnesses are in part caused by poorly-bound iron which causes the production of dangerous toxins that can react with the components of living systems.

These toxins, called hydroxyl radicals, cause degenerative diseases of many kinds in different parts of the body.

In order to protect the body from these dangerous varieties of poorly-bound iron, it is vital to take on nutrients, known as iron chelators, which can bind the iron tightly.

Brightly-coloured fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of chelators, as is green tea, with purple fruits considered to have the best chance of binding the iron effectively .

However, despite conflicting reports, the widely-publicised benefits of red wine seem to work in a different way, and have no similar benefits, Professor Kell's paper noted.

This new paper is the first time the link has been made between so many different diseases and the presence of the wrong form of iron, and gives a crucial clue as to how to prevent them or at least slow them down.

Professor Kell argues that the means by which poorly-liganded iron accelerates the onset of debilitating diseases shows up areas in which current, traditional thinking is flawed and can be dangerous.

For instance, Vitamin C is thought to be of great benefit to the body's ability to defend itself against toxins and diseases.

However Professor Kell, who is Professor of Bioanalytical Science at the University, indicates that excess vitamin C can in fact have the opposite effect to that intended if unliganded iron is present.

Only when iron is suitably and safely bound ("chelated") will vitamin C work effectively.

Professor Kell said: "Much of modern biology has been concerned with the role of different genes in human disease.

"The importance of iron may have been missed because there is no gene for iron as such. What I have highlighted in this work is therefore a crucial area for further investigation, as many simple predictions follow from my analysis.

"If true they might change greatly the means by which we seek to prevent and even cure such diseases."

Study Information

Douglas B. Kell.
Towards a unifying, systems biology understanding of large-scale cellular death and destruction caused by poorly liganded iron: Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s, prions, bactericides, chemical toxicology and others as examples.
Archives of Toxicology,
2010 December
University of Manchester

Full Study

http://www.springerlink.com/content/y444357h4j61120u/