Tag Archive : LifeShield

Self-Defense Against Infection

Self-Defense Against Infection  By Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw

First appeared in the July 2008 issue of Life Extension News

Helping Your Immune System Help You

Largely because of FDA regulatory hurdles, life-extension-bookthere are only two new antibiotics in the pipeline and no end in sight for the drought in new antibiotic developments. As a result, antibiotic-resistant infections are becoming a very serious problem, especially so if you have to go to a hospital, where these resistant “bugs” are prevalent. A very close friend of ours died recently from an infection (sepsis) that he got as a result of a catheter implanted in a hospital while being treated for cancer. He never got the chance to benefit (or not) from the cancer treatments. In our opinion, the hospital’s oversight for potential catheter-related infections, a very common occurrence, was very poor, but that is another story. The point we are making here is that you need to avoid infections, and enhancing immune surveillance to prevent them in the first place is what we consider the best strategy.

Rather than just taking supplements that are alleged to “enhance immune activity,” we strive to identify particular types of immune activity that deliver the sort of protection we’re interested in, and we then search the literature for natural substances that can safely provide that type of protection. In the case of infections, we are particularly excited by the protection provided by theanine, isoleucine, and vitamin D. We explain below.

Theanine in Tea Enhances Adaptive Immune Function in Response to Bacteria, Viruses, and Tumors

A new paper in Nutrition Reviews1 reports on the impressive, adaptive immune-enhancing activity of theanine, a unique amino acid found only (as far as is known) in tea (Camellia sinensis). Brewed tea contains millimolar concentrations of theanine.1

Theanine has been found to prime gammadelta T cells, which comprise about 2–5% of total peripheral blood T cells and which mobilize (expanding by up to 50-fold) in response to alkylamines produced by bacteria. Theanine is catabolized in the kidney, resulting in the production of ethylamine, an alkylamine* that primes the gammadelta T cells known as Vgamma2Vdelta2 T cells. Priming does not cause these cells to expand in the absence of antigen but does cause them to more efficiently expand and to produce the potent antimicrobial IFNgamma (interferon gamma) in response to microbial antigens. It is like cocking a gun: the cocking itself doesn’t result in discharge but is a necessary prerequisite for discharge. Consumption of 5–6 cups a day of tea (containing 190 mg of theanine) by human volunteers increased the capacity of Vgamma2Vdelta2 T cells to secrete IFNgamma by up to 15-fold in response to ethylamine or dead bacteria.1 As noted above, the theanine or tea containing it does not increase IFNgamma secretion (which is associated with fever and other flu like symptoms) but primes the T cells to enable them to more efficiently secrete IFNgamma in response to infection.1

*Interestingly, alkylamines are also found in apples and wine and are found in up to millimolar concentrations in urine, breast milk, and amniotic fluid. See Reference 1.

The article reported that severe combined immunodeficient mice reconstituted with human peripheral blood mononuclear cells containing Vgamma2Vdelta2 T cells were protected against death from gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. Moreover, in the same type of mice, “adoptive transfer of Vgamma2Vdelta2 T cells enhances survival against challenge with a variety of myelomas, carcinomas, and lymphomas. Such enhancement was improved when Vgamma2Vdelta2 cells were first primed.” There are clinical trials in progress testing whether the priming of these cells (by risedronate, a bisphosphonate used to treat osteoporosis, or adoptive transfer of Vgamma2Vdelta2 cells) can effectively treat lymphomas, kidney carcinoma, and solid tumors.

Moreover, a recently published, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of a proprietary blend of theanine and catechins reported that in healthy human subjects aged 19–70 taking the formulation for three months, the incidence of cold and flu symptoms was decreased by 30%. The authors of Reference 1 found that the protective effect was due to a 30% increase, compared to placebo, in the ability of Vgamma2Vdelta2 T cells to secrete IFNgamma ex vivo (tested outside of the body). (A disclosure, under “conflict of interest” given at the end of this review article, reports that one of the authors owns stock in the company selling the proprietary blend.)

Adaptive Immunity Prevents Growth of Occult Cancer

Another paper2 reports on explicit examinations of the adaptive immune process whereby occult cancers (small, undetectable masses of cancerous cells) are maintained in a small size. In this paper, the authors show that cancer can be prevented from growing beyond a tiny, undetectable size by T cells of the adaptive immune system. Under such conditions of “equilibrium,” loss of immune competence or of the antigenicity (ability of the immune system to recognize the tumor cells) disrupts the process and results in tumor expansion. This is thought to be the reason that some occult cancers emerge when patients have received an organ transplant and immunosuppressive therapy. The authors also propose that suppression by the adaptive immune system may account for why most older men have occult prostate cancers but only in a fraction of them does development of symptomatic prostate cancer occur.

Briefly, the experiments involved exposing mice to a cancer-causing chemical, 3’-methylcholanthrene (MCA), that resulted in the development of sarcomas in some of the mice. They found that “of 187 mice treated with low-dose MCA, 86 (46%) developed progressively growing sarcomas following depletion of CD4/CD8 cells, IFNgamma, and/or IL-12—components that participate in adaptive immunity. . . . We therefore considered the possibility that at least some of the MCA-treated wild-type mice that remained free of progressively growing tumors harboured fully transformed sarcoma cells, the outgrowth of which was immunologically restrained.” In the MCA model, transformed cells emerge exclusively at the site of injection. “Examination of the injection site in 129/SvEv mice treated with 25 µg MCA revealed the presence of small 2–8-mm masses that became palpable within 150 days of MCA injection but did not change in size during an additional 150 days.”

The authors concluded that net tumor cell expansion was being immunologically restrained. They concluded that “maintaining cancer in an equilibrium state may represent a relevant goal of cancer immunotherapy in which augmentation of adaptive tumour immunity could result in improved tumour control” of some kinds of cancers.

The Essential Amino Acid Isoleucine Induces Antimicrobial Peptides in Epithelial Tissues

An exciting paper3 from 2000 that has seemingly been forgotten reported that the essential amino acid isoleucine induces beta-defensins (antimicrobial peptides) in skin, airway, gut, and urogenital tract epithelial tissues, thus providing important protection against microbes by drilling holes in their membranes. “In addition to their direct antimicrobial activities, beta-defensins are chemotactic [attractive] for memory T cells, suggesting that they play an important role in the integration of the innate and acquired [adaptive] immune responses. . . . Isoleucine induced the expression of the beta-defensin 10- to 12-fold with peak activity between 3.12 µg/ml and 12.5 µg/ml.”1

Moreover, the authors found that isoleucine was highly specific in its induction of beta-defensin, as other amino acids did not do so. Isoleucine acts as a signal for the presence of potentially harmful microbes.1 It is an alkylamine1 (as is theanine, see above) and, though they didn’t test for it here, isoleucine probably primes the gammadelta T cells in the same way as theanine. The researchers note that “alkylamines are produced in vitro by a number of pathogenic bacteria includingSalmonella typhimurium, Listeria monocytogenes, and Yersinia enterocolitica.

Vitamin D Against Infections

A recent paper4 reports that bacterial invasion is recognized in injury and stimulates the production of antimicrobial peptides through a vitamin D-dependent mechanism. The authors discovered this via an investigation of the expression of genes influenced by vitamin D3 (1,25D3, the active form) in the setting of wound repair.

They found that “injury triggers a local increase in 1,25D3 signaling in skin.” Then they found that 1,25D3 stimulated an increase in the expression of TLR2 [toll-like receptor 2] and CD14, microbial pattern recognition receptors, and cathelicidin, an antimicrobial peptide.

A somewhat earlier paper5 found that toll-like receptor activation in human macrophages caused an upregulation of the expression of the vitamin D receptor and the vitamin D1-hydroxylase genes that resulted in the induction of the antimicrobial peptide cathelicidin. The cathelicidin killed intracellular Mycobacterium tuberculosis.(The action of the vitamin D receptor in the killing of the tuberculosis microbe links the long-standing knowledge that tuberculosis patients do better when exposed to sunlight.) The authors suggest that innate differences in the ability of human populations to produce vitamin D “may contribute to susceptibility of microbial infections.”

We strive to identify particular types of immune activity that deliver the sort of protection we want, and we then search for natural substances that can safely provide that type of protection.

As part of their study,5 the authors found that “Addition of 1,25D3 to primary human macrophages infected with virulent M. tuberculosis reduced the number of viablebacilli . . . By demonstrating that TLR stimulation of human macrophages induces: (i) the enzyme that catalyzes conversion of 25D3 to active 1,25D3; (ii) the expression of the vitamin D receptor (VDR); and (iii) relevant downstream targets of VDR (including cathelicidin), the present results provide an explanation for the action of vitamin D as a key link between TLR activation and [certain] antibacterial responses in innate immunity.”

Finally, in another report,6 the vitamin D receptor was found to be required for the development of natural killer T cells, which are important cells in immune regulation, tumor surveillance, and host defense against pathogens.

Why Vitamin K Should Be Taken with Vitamin D

We add this section because, while vitamin D and calcium supplements increase the absorption of calcium, adequate vitamin K is essential to ensure that the calcium ends up in bone rather than as calcium deposits in blood vessels. The proper regulation of calcium is carried out by osteocalcin, a hormone like peptide produced by osteoblasts (bone cells that manufacture bone).7 Vitamin K is required for the conversion of the preosteocalcin molecule to osteocalcin, its active form. (In fact, mice with the osteocalcin gene knocked out have abnormally high amounts of visceral fat, and early clinical observations revealed “significantly lower serum OC [osteocalcin] values in patients suffering from type 2 diabetes compared to healthy persons, and restoration of glycemic control resulted in increased OC levels.”7

While the recommended daily allowance of vitamin K is 1 µg/kg of body weight per day, that is based only upon adequate levels for proper blood clotting and not on the amount required for optimal bone formation or to prevent calcium deposition in blood vessels by carboxylating osteocalcin. “There is some evidence that the current RDA may not be sufficient to maximally carboxylate [activate] this protein [osteocalcin].”7 Most dietary vitamin K comes from a few leafy green vegetables and four vegetable oils (soybean, cottonseed, canola, and olive); however, the bioavailability from vegetables is relatively poor. “The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 3 cups/week of dark green vegetables, which contain about 100 to 570 µg/serving of vitamin K.”8 However, what is actually absorbed is unclear and likely to be much less.

Studies such as that of Sokoll et al.9 found that increasing vitamin K intake from 100 to 420 µg/day resulted in a significant decline in the percentage of uncarboxylated osteocalcin within five days, suggesting that the “normal” intake of vitamin K in the North American population is not sufficient to maximally carboxylate osteocalcin.


  1. Bukowski and Percival. L-Theanine intervention enhances human gammadelta T lymphocyte function. Nutr Rev 66(2):96-102 (2007).
  2. Koebel et al. Adaptive immunity maintains occult cancer in an equilibrium state.Nature 450:903-6 (2007); also see commentary on this paper in same issue.
  3. Fehibaum et al. An essential amino acid induces epithelial beta-defensin expression. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97(23):12723-8 (2000).
  4. Schauber et al. Injury enhances TLR2 function and antimicrobial peptide expression through a vitamin D-dependent mechanism. J Clin Invest 117(3):803-11 (2007).
  5. Liu et al. Toll-like receptor triggering of a vitamin D-mediated human antimicrobial response. Science 311(5768):1770-3 (2006).
  6. Yu and Cantorna. The vitamin D receptor is required for iNKT cell development.Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105(13):5207-12 (2008).
  7. Booth and Suttle. Dietary intake and adequacy of vitamin K. J Nutr 128: 785-8 (1998).
  8. Johnson. Influence of vitamin K on anticoagulant therapy depends on vitamin K status and the source and chemical forms of vitamin K. Nutr Rev 63(3):91-7 (2005).
  9. Sokoll et al. Changes in serum osteocalcin, plasma phylloquinone, and urinary gamma-carboxyglutamic acid in response to altered intakes of dietary phylloquinone in human subjects. Am J Clin Nutr 65:779-84 (1997).

©2008 by Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw

Life Priority is proud to have a working relationship with Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw since 1994. We offer many of the Pearson & Shaw Designer Food formulas.

Life Priority Inc. 11184 Antioch # 417  Overland Park, Ks. 66210

 800-787-5438      www.lifepriority.com


Life Priority, established in 1994, offers supplements that are scientifically-formulated, results-oriented, and GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) and are manufactured at USDA and FDA inspected facilities.
*The products and statements made about specific products on this web site have not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. All information provided on this web site or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new vitamins, supplements, diet, or exercise program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.
*Any testimonials on this web site are based on individual results and do not constitute a guarantee that you will achieve the same results.

Make Every Day Your Opening Day for Fitness

Article by Greg Pryor published in Kansas City Sports & Fitness.

Greg Pryor - Kansas City RoyalsKansas City Royals fans are eagerly looking forward to Opening Day at Kauffman Stadium.  We are tired of single digit temperatures and melting snow drifts. Another “opener” is our signal of the beginning of warmer, sunny days ahead. Every spring from ‘67 to ’87, I was getting ready for another opening day for my college baseball team (’67-’71), or the professional team that I was with (’71-’87).  Maybe you should create an opening day attitude for your fitness schedule.

Your personal fitness goals ought to be structured so that you are prepared to get the most out of your exercise.  Most importantly, and as a compliment to a good diet, you should use dietary supplements to promote your recovery process.    You don’t have to be a professional athlete to benefit from supplements. It’s not all about being able to clock a faster time or lift more weight; supplements also serve as an insurance policy against the additional stress and energy needs brought on by exercise.

“It’s like you have one car to drive around for the rest of your life,” said Liz Applegate, Ph.D.,professor of nutrition at the University of California – Davis, and author of the Encyclopedia of Sports and Fitness Nutrition (Prima Publishing, 2002). “You wouldn’t start taking care of it after it was 20 years old. You would do regular maintenance.”

Just as a car’s maintenance needs change as it gets older, so do those of an active aging body.

“In general, nutrient requirements increase with exercise,” Applegate said. “But at different ages there are other considerations that come into play as well.”

  • Certain nutrients, not readily found in adequate amounts in the modern diet, can help encourage your mental energy and motivation in your job or workouts.  In 1991, I found two supplements, LIFT™ and MIND™ from Life Priority, that I use every day to help me feel bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to tackle each day like it is opening day!
  • Then, protecting the health of cartilage, tendons and ligaments should be at the top of your list as you exercise.  Glucosamine is a smart choice to support joint health and help speed recovery from injury or over use. Life Priority offers two great products for joint inflammation, JOINT DECISION™ and TOTAL JOINT COMPLEX™.
  • Exercise itself produces free radicals so, to prevent free radical damage to muscle tissue and from causing inflammation and soreness, use a mix of antioxidants prior to exercise. I suggest either the Life Priority ONE PER MEAL LIFEGUARD™ or LIFESHEILD™.
  • Finally, an amino acid that I have known about since ’91, arginine, is one of the most valuable nutrients that you can use prior to exercise.  Email me at customerservice@lifepriority.com for a free report on arginine and how to use it (available in the Life Priority product, MUSCLE MEMORY™) effectively for the best workouts of your life (and quicker recovery!)

No matter what your age, your body needs certain essential nutrients every day in adequate amounts. Don’t take your body and brain for granted!  Give it the best chance to have a great opening day, every day!

LP-0314-Ad copy