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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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2008 Accomplishments


Immunity & Disease Prevention

Research Unit




2008 Major Accomplishments:


Phytosterols (Polyphenols) & Inflammation:


••         Reported for the first time that some plant polyphenols (curcumin) inhibit the activation of NOD2, a cytoplasmic pattern recognition receptor that mediates inflammatory diseases (Dr Dan Hwang)


••         Demonstrated that a polyphenol, cinnamaldehyde, inhibits activation of the Toll-like receptor 4 which causes inflammation (Dr Dan Hwang)




Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids & Inflammation:


••         Reported that DHA supplementation of men with high serum triglycerides reduces fasting and post-prandial triglycerides, remnant chylomicron particles and small dense LDL particles; these all cause atherosclerosis. DHA also increased large LDL and large HDL particles which protect against heart disease (Dr Darshan Kelley)


••         In mice, showed T10, C12-conjugated linoleic acid (a trans fatty acid) caused insulin resistance and fatty liver; DHA, EPA and flaxseed oil (omega 3 sources) prevented the fatty liver caused by CLA but only DHA and flaxseed oil prevented the insulin resistance (Dr Darshan Kelley)



Vitamin A/ Vitamin D & Inflammation:


••         Developed methods to quantify the relative contributions of sun exposure, skin pigmentation and diet to vitamin D status in adults, and equations to predict the amount of vitamin D intake needed to meet requirements depending on skin color and sun exposure (Dr Charles Stephensen)


••         Demonstrated that high intakes of vitamin A increase the severity of asthma in a mouse model by altering immune function (Dr Charles Stephensen)




Macro and Micronutrients & Tumorigenesis:


••         Discovered that the flavanoids quercetin and kaempferol induce death of leukemia cells by promoting G2/M cell cycle arrest and accumulation of cyclin B, which can prevent leukemia cell growth (Dr Susan Zunino)



••         Determined that several extracts of fruits rich in polyphenols, especially blueberries, blackberries and purple grapes, prevent leukemia cell growth in vitro (Dr Susan Zunino)


••         Discovered in epithelial cells that a selenium protein, selenoprotein W, is required for the G1/S transition, the control point for cell proliferation that is poorly regulated in most cancers (Dr Chris Hawkes)




2008 Stakeholder/partnership Outreach Accomplishments:


The Immunity & Disease Prevention Unit enjoys strong stakeholder support evidenced by financial support from the California Strawberry Commission, the Beverage Institute, and the California Table Grape Commission. Scientists serve as advisors or review grants for the American Heart Association, USDA and NIH, the California Strawberry Commission, the California Table Grape Commission, and the Canadian Cherry Commission.




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Last Modified: 8/12/2016
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