Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (MLPW) is a week dedicated to increasing public understanding and appreciation for the clinical laboratory profession. During this week, we are taking the opportunity to celebrate the hard work of our Research and Development team. Allow us to provide you an insight into the life changing work of our scientists in the laboratories.
At Randox, our scientists work tirelessly to develop revolutionary diagnostic tests that are used in hospital and research laboratories across the globe.
We spoke to one of our biochemistry R&D Scientists to gain an insight into what working in a clinical chemistry laboratory entails. Emmett Donnelly, Clinical Chemistry R&D Scientist, is involved in the development of new reagents and the improvement of existing reagents. Emmett commented, “[My] role also involves the transfer and testing of existing chemistries onto new analyser platforms. Troubleshooting and resolving customer queries also forms part of a clinical analyst’s role”. Emmett’s work is vital to ensure that patient tests are performing correctly, and to develop ground-breaking new technologies leading to better patient outcomes. To find out more about the work Emmett does, watch this video below.
Our scientists are committed to research and development and thrive knowing that their novel research is putting them at the forefront of clinical diagnostics.
In fact, prior to beginning work at Randox, Scott Paulin, Clinical Chemistry R&D team, took part in a three month expedition to Antarctica to intensely study human response-based research in athletes. A number of papers have been published in peer reviewed journals as a result of Scott’s research, as the findings have provided a useful insight into the physiological stress and responses associated with an Antarctic ultra-endurance race and nutritional counterstrategies to help maintain immune responses, function body weight and reduce stress markers. Read the full article here.
At Randox, our scientists are of the highest calibre, with vast experience and expertise which ensures we are producing the highest quality range of clinical diagnostic tests.
Excitingly as a result, American astronauts have enlisted our help to test their antioxidant levels before they go to space! This is essential as it ensures astronauts can survive long periods of time away from earth. To find out more about how important our Total Antioxidant Status (TAS) test is for astronauts, read our blog post here.
The invaluable work our scientists undertake in the laboratory is vital to ensure healthcare is advanced globally. Thanks to those in our Research and Development team, we are proud to be able to offer the widest range of clinical chemistry reagents and unique tests for medical diagnosis. Due to our scientist’s dedication to research, a continual focus is placed on developing tests that assess the risk of diseases, rather than diagnosing the illness after it has occurred. As a result, Randox are helping to change healthcare, as patients are provided the ability to take preventative action early. In the words of our R&D scientist Emmett Donnelly, “for me, my work supports the old saying prevention is better than cure”.
We hope you have enjoyed reading about our fantastic team of R&D Scientists! If you would like to find out more about the work of Randox Reagents, please get in contact by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to view our homepage.
In celebration of British Science Week 2017, we will be giving you an introduction to diagnostics, and exploring how Randox Scientists are helping to change healthcare.
You may or may not already know that Randox are one of the leading diagnostics companies globally. But what exactly does clinical diagnostics involve? It is one of the fundamental steps of finding out what is wrong with a person when they are ill. Read on to find out a bit more about diagnostics, and how the Randox Reagents R&D Scientists are helping to change healthcare globally!
What is a diagnostic test?
A diagnostic test is any kind of analysis performed on a patient sample (a sample is typically blood, urine or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)), to aid in the diagnosis or detection of disease. The information found from a test can be used to:
- Diagnose disease
- Assess the extent of damage
- Monitor the effectiveness of treatment
- Confirm a person to be free from disease
Examples of substances that may be tested for the blood include proteins, nutrients, waste products, antibodies, hormones, salts, trace elements or vitamins. These are sometimes referred to as ‘analytes’, ‘markers’ or ‘biomarkers’.
This is where reagents come in…
A reagent is a substance which is mixed with the patient sample to create a chemical reaction to detect the biomarker. These reactions are analysed by machines known as analysers.
Using data gathered from both clinical symptoms and laboratory tests, the doctor will follow a sometimes painstaking process of analysis and elimination to perform a successful diagnosis!
On 9 March 2017, Randox Reagents are celebrating World Kidney Day! World Kidney Day is a global campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of our kidneys to our overall health. It aims to reduce the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide.
This year, the World Kidney Day promotes education on the harmful consequences of obesity and its association with kidney disease, advocating healthy lifestyle and health policy measures that make preventive behaviours an affordable option.
With this in mind, throughout the week we have been sharing on social media some interesting facts on diagnostic tests which can help aid an early risk assessment of kidney disease in obese patients, allowing preventative action to be taken before any serious damage occurs. The tests of focus this week included cystatin C, adiponectin and microalbumin…
The creatinine test is routinely run for patients who are suspected for deteriorating kidney function, however this test has limitations. Cystatin C is an alternative test, and is particularly useful in patients where creatinine measurements are not suitable e.g. individuals who are obese, malnourished, have liver cirrhosis or reduced muscle mass. Importantly, unlike creatinine, cystatin C does not have a ‘blind area’ – up to 50% of kidney function can be lost before significant creatinine elevation occurs. Cystatin C is extremely sensitive to very small changes in kidney function and is therefore capable of detecting early stage kidney dysfunction. The cystatin C test therefore allows preventative measures to be taken much earlier and before significant kidney function decline.
There is substantial evidence that excess visceral fat is the main driving force for almost all of the disorders associated with the metabolic syndrome, including CKD.1,2 The adiponectin test from Randox can accurately assess levels of abdominal visceral fat, independent of age, race or fitness level.3,4 Assessing adiponectin, and therefore visceral fat levels, can help assess risk of CKD, as well as a range of other illnesses such as pre-diabetes, CVD and various cancers.
The microalbumin test detects very low levels of a blood protein called albumin, in urine. The detection of albumin in urine can be an indicator of kidney injury and can result in irreversible damage if left untreated. Low albumin concentrations in the urine are the earliest marker of kidney damage and therefore enable preventative measures to be taken. Microalbumin testing can identify individuals with diabetic nephropathy approximately 5-10 years earlier than proteinuria tests helping reduce the frequency of end stage renal disease.
Both World Kidney Day and Randox are working towards improving healthcare worldwide. With continuous investment in R&D, Randox are helping with the risk assessment and earliest detection of renal function problems. By assessing one’s risk of kidney problems (with the adiponectin test), it can give patients (obese and other) the tools to prevent kidney problems further on down the line. With early diagnosis (through the cystatin C and microalbumin tests) it will be possible to keep kidney problems from getting worse, therefore lowering the number of those diagnosed with CKD worldwide.
A study published on 21st February 2017 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has found that measuring apolipoproteins E, C-II and C-III can offer earlier detection of cardiovascular risk in comparison to routine apolipoprotein A-I and B tests.1
The lead author of the study, Professor Manuel Mayr, from King’s College London has said, “We directly compared the association of a broad panel of apolipoproteins to new onset of cardiovascular disease over a 10-year observation period, and found that while apoB was predictive, other apolipoproteins, namely apoE, apo C-II and apo C-III, were even better”. Professor Mayr further implied that the findings provide support that expanding current cardiac screening tests to include apolipoproteins could reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases.2
What are apolipoproteins?
Apolipoproteins are proteins that bind to lipids to form lipoproteins. Lipoproteins are made of proteins and fats, and serve the function of transporting insoluble fats, such as cholesterol and triglycerides, to be used by different cells. 3
There are six major types of apolipoprotein: A, B, C, D, E and H and the lipoproteins within these categories can vary in size, density and lipid composition. The study found that apolipoproteins E, C-II and C-III are linked to very low-density lipoproteins (vLDL) and have a stronger association with cardiovascular diseases in comparison to apolipoprotein A-I and apolipoprotein B.4
vLDL is strongly associated with the development of atherosclerosis, the build-up of fatty material inside the arteries, which is a major risk factor of cardiovascular diseases as it can lead to angina, heart attack, stroke or peripheral arterial disease.5
Why measure apo C-II, apo C-III and apo-E?
As highlighted by the authors of the study, cardiovascular risk assessment is commonly associated with only a few lipids within established lipoprotein classes, such as LDL.1 This emphasises the importance of carrying out detailed lipid testing to identify all subgroups to provide a complete cardiovascular risk assessment, as traditional biomarkers for lipids may only provide a limited overview. This can then allow for effective treatment to be provided at an earlier stage, which could subsequently reduce the risk of death by cardiovascular diseases.
Randox offer a range of routine and novel cardiac assays to provide a complete cardiac risk assessment, including: Apolipoprotein C-II / C-III / E / A-I / A-II / B, Adiponectin, HDL Cholesterol, HDL3 Cholesterol, LDL Cholesterol, sLDL Cholesterol, Total Cholesterol, TxBCardio™, H-FABP, Homocysteine, hsCRP, Lipoprotein (a), sPLA2-IIA, and Triglycerides. For more information, email: email@example.com.
1. Mayr, M. et al., Very-low-density lipoprotein-associated apolipoproteins predict cardiovascular events and are lowered by inhibition of APOC-III., Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Vol. 69, No. 7, 2017.
2. NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College London, Discovery could help doctors to spot cardiovascular disease at an earlier stage: Advanced technologies provide researchers with new insights into the warning signs for cardiovascular disease, ScienceDaily (2017) Available from: https://goo.gl/XkC23R [Accessed: 21 February 2017]
3. Kingsbury, K. J., Understanding the Essentials of Blood Lipid Metabolism, Medscape, (2017) Available from: https://goo.gl/AApW6S [Accessed: 23 February 2017]
4. Wallace, A., New technique could aid in earlier diagnosis of heart disease, UPI, (2017) Available from: https://goo.gl/xzxLdf [Accessed: 23 February 2017]
5. British Heart Foundation, Atherosclerosis, (2017) Available from: https://goo.gl/1qHxpk [Accessed: 23 February 2017}
So far in our inflammatory biomarker series, we have considered the clinical significance of measuring rheumatoid factor (RF) and C-reactive protein (CRP) to detect inflammation. Inflammation, either chronic or acute, is the body’s immune response to protect against harmful stimuli such as damaged cells, irritants or pathogens and can be present in a range of diseases and conditions.1 Measuring inflammatory biomarkers can assist clinicians in the identification of a particular disease or can provide a marker of treatment response. In this blog, we consider the role of antioxidants and identify relevant biomarkers which may be linked to inflammatory states.
What is an antioxidant?
An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that produces free radicals, which are groups of very reactive molecules that can interrupt important cellular processes. Antioxidants are commonly referenced with regards to food, however antioxidants are also found in the body in the form of enzymes. Their purpose is to protect against the effects of oxidative stress to reduce damage from free radicals.
What is the link between antioxidants and inflammation?
Oxidative stress and the inflammation associated with it are the cause of most human disease. This would suggest that free radicals are implicated in many disease states for example rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, stroke, or cancer. Therefore antioxidants are important to protect against oxidative damage, thus reducing the risk of inflammation. There are a number of antioxidants which play a protective role the body, such as ferritin, superoxide dismutase, transferrin, uric acid and glutathione reductase.
Ferritin is responsible for storing iron and releasing it when required. Ordinarily, ferritin is found inside blood cells with only a small amount circulating in the blood. Ferritin is clinically significant at both high and low levels. Low levels of ferritin can highlight an iron deficiency which causes anaemia. Whereas elevated levels of ferritin can be a result of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, haemochromatosis, liver disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and renal failure.2 As ferritin is an acute phase reactant, levels will be elevated in any inflammatory state within the body.3
Transferrin is a protein that is responsible for binding and transporting iron in the blood. Transferrin acts as a preventative antioxidant as it binds with free iron, removing it from the bloodstream. This is a critical function, as free iron can stimulate the production of harmful free radicals. As transferrin is a negative acute phase protein, lower levels are associated with inflammatory conditions.7
Superoxide is a by-product of oxygen metabolism and is one of the most damaging free radicals in the body as it can cause cell damage. Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) is an enzyme which catalyses the breakdown of superoxide into a less damaging oxygen or hydrogen peroxide. Therefore SOD preforms a vital defensive function to reduce oxidative stress.4 Extensive research exists which links oxidative stress to chronic inflammation, which can be a contributing factor to diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disease and cancer.5 Therefore if levels of superoxide dismutase are low, patients are at risk inflammation, for example, SOD levels are significantly less in rheumatoid arthritis patients.6
Glutathione reductase is found in red blood cells and plays a key role in maintaining cell function and preventing oxidative stress in human cells. Reduced levels of glutathione reductase can contribute to the prevalence of inflammatory states, suggesting that adequate levels of glutathione reductase are essential for optimal function of the immune system. 7, 8
Uric acid is a waste product produced when the body breaks down chemical compounds called purines. It is a scavenging antioxidant that acts by inactivating free radicals. Elevated levels of uric acid is commonly associated with gout, a type of arthritis which is caused when crystals of sodium urate form inside joints causing rapid and painful inflammation.9 Other research has indicated that elevated levels of uric acid is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Total Antioxidant Status (TAS)
TAS is a measurement of antioxidant function rather than quantity and considers the cumulative effect of all antioxidants present. The antioxidant defence system has many components, and a deficiency in any of these components can cause a reduction in the overall antioxidant status of an individual.10 Reduction in total antioxidant status has been implicated in several disease states including cancer, CVD, Arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.
As demonstrated above, different types of antioxidants can help reduce different types of inflammation. Antioxidant tests can be requested from any doctor, who may also review dietary intake, investigate any symptoms and advise if testing is required. If antioxidant levels are found to be inadequate, improving them can be easily done through dietary changes, and can help reduce a body’s overall inflammation.
For health professionals
Randox Laboratories offer a range of diagnostic reagents for antioxidant testing to assist in the diagnosis of inflammatory diseases. Randox offer a complete diagnostic package with applications for a range of biochemistry analysers and a selection of kit sizes, controls and calibrators available. Available tests include: Ferritin, Transferrin, Superoxide Dismutase (Ransod), Glutathione Reductase, Uric Acid, and Total Antioxidant Status (TAS).
- Nordqvist, C., Inflammation: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment. Medical News Today, 2015, https://goo.gl/rT4WS9 (accessed 16 January 2017)
- Koperdanova, M., Interpreting raised serum ferritin levels, British Medical Journal, 2015, https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h3692 (accessed 2 February 2017)
- Nall, R. Ferritin Level Blood Test, Health Line, 2015, https://goo.gl/XGcW9P (accessed 2 February 2017)
- Yasui, K. and Baba, A., Therapeutic potential of superoxide dismutase (SOD) for resolution of inflammation. Inflammation Research. Vol.55, No.9, pp.359-363, 2006, 1007/s00011-006-5195-y (accessed 2 February 2017)
- Reuter, S., Gupta, S.C., Chaturvedi, M.M., Aggarwal, B.B., Oxidative stress, inflammation and cancer: How are they linked? Free Radic Biol Med. 2010, 1; 49(11):1603-1616 https://goo.gl/Uez3JZ (accessed 2 February 2017)
- Bae SC, Kim SJ, Sung MK., Inadequate antioxidant nutrient intake and altered plasma antioxidant status of rheumatoid arthritis patients. J Am Coll Nutr. 2003 Aug;22(4):311-5
- Reynolds, B., Glutathione for inflammatory respsonse, FX Medicine, 2015, Available from: https://goo.gl/2YAv5l (accessed 3 February 2017)
- Morris, G., Anderson, G., Dean, O. et al., The glutathione system: a new drug target in neuroimmune disorders. Mol Neurobiol 2014;50(3):1059-1084, Available from: https://goo.gl/PDSgwv (accessed 3 February 2017)
- Malaghan Institute, Uric acid – a new look at an old marker of inflammation, Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, 2013, Available from: https://goo.gl/P6NfXP
- Li, Y., Browne, R.W., Bonner, M.R., Deng, F., Tian, L., Mu, L., Positive Relationship between Total Antioxidant Status and Chemokines Observed in Adults. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2014, Available from: https://goo.gl/rmj5MB (accessed 9 February 2017)
What are inflammatory biomarkers?
The purpose of measuring an inflammatory biomarker is to detect inflammation, which can assist clinicians in the identification of a particular disease or provide a marker of treatment response. Inflammation, either chronic or acute, is the body’s immune response to protect against harmful stimuli such as damaged cells, irritants or pathogens.1 When inflammation occurs in the body, extra protein is released from the site of inflammation and circulates in the bloodstream.2 It is these proteins, or antibodies, which clinicians are testing for in the blood as they can indicate if inflammation is present.
Like many inflammatory biomarkers, such as rheumatoid factor (RF), C-reactive protein (CRP) or erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), further tests will be required as testing for these tests alone does not provide a clearly defined diagnosis. However inflammatory biomarker tests can provide clinicians with a good indication of what may be wrong with a patient, which is why they are commonly tested for in a clinical setting.
What is Rheumatoid Factor?
Rheumatoid factor (RF) is an autoantibody which can target and damage healthy body tissue and in turn cause inflammatory symptoms.3 It is uncommon for this antibody to be present in healthy individuals, which is why it is a beneficial test to aid the diagnostic process. In particular, rheumatoid factor can be used as an inflammatory biomarker to assist in the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However the rheumatoid factor antibody can also be present in healthy individuals or patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, liver cirrhosis, Sjögren’s Syndrome, Hepatitis and other conditions.4 If a test detects rheumatoid factor levels above 14 IU/ml, this is considered abnormally high.3
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease which attacks the lining tissue of joints, resulting in chronic inflammation. This disease commonly affects the hands, feet and wrists, with symptoms causing pain, fatigue and loss of bodily function and over time may even lead to multiple organ damage.5 Although diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis requires a physical examination, testing for rheumatoid factor can be beneficial to assist in the diagnosis of this disease. Other blood tests that can be used to detect biomarkers associated with rheumatoid arthritis include C-reactive protein (CRP), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), IgA, IgG, IgM and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP).
For health professionals
Randox Laboratories offer a leading portfolio of diagnostic reagents which includes a test for rheumatoid factor, with applications available for a range of biochemistry analysers. With a measuring range of 6.72 – 104 lU/ml, this assay can comfortably detect levels outside the normal range. Randox offer a complete diagnostic package for the screening of rheumatoid factor with a range of kit sizes, controls and calibrators available. Other inflammatory biomarker tests available from Randox include CRP, High Sensitivity CRP, Full Range CRP, IgA, IgG and IgM.
1. Nordqvist, C. Inflammation: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment. Medical News Today, https://goo.gl/rT4WS9 (accessed 16 January 2017)
2. Harding, M., Blood Tests to Detect Inflammation, Patient, 2015, https://goo.gl/F4OGrz, (accessed 16 January 2017)
3. Shiel, W. C., Rheumatoid Factor (RF), MedicineNet, 2016, https://goo.gl/XPA69u 2016 (accessed 16 January 2017)
4. Rheumatoid Arthritis Organisation, Rheumatoid Factor Test, Rheumatoid Arthritis Organisation, 2016, https://goo.gl/JujE5a
5. Gibofsky, A. Overview of Epidemiology, Pathophysiology and Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. The American Journal of Managed Care. Vol.18, No.13. p.295-302, 2012
An inflammatory biomarker detects inflammation in the body. Inflammation is not just the immediate, short-term response of the body to an injury or infection. Inflammation within the body can be a long-term, chronic condition resulting in a number of health implications. In diagnostics, measurement of an inflammatory biomarker can not only detect acute inflammation but provide a marker of treatment response.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is an acute phase protein produced by the liver in response to inflammation, infection and tissue injury. CRP is a particularly beneficial inflammatory biomarker as it is detected much faster than other markers in the blood. Levels of CRP increase when inflammation occurs and therefore it can be a significant biomarker in a range of diseases, including the following.
An increasing amount of research exists to suggest CRP is not only a useful, non-specific inflammatory biomarker, but it may have a direct influence on coronary heart disease and cardiac events1. Inflammation can occur when LDL cholesterol builds up in the artery walls causing atherosclerosis. Modifiable risk factors of atherosclerosis include smoking, diabetes, poor diet, high blood pressure and physical inactivity, all factors which subsequently increase the risk of heart attacks, ischemic stroke, peripheral artery disease and even vascular dementia2,3.
Studies have also shown that persistent low levels of CRP can contribute to a person developing CVD. Therefore using high sensitivity CRP as an inflammatory biomarker can detect low levels, helping to predict the likelihood of a patient developing CVD in the future.
Research suggests that inflammation in the body can influence the development of type 2 diabetes. With the ability to be managed through diet and exercise, type 2 diabetes is commonly associated with obesity. Research has shown that excess body fat can cause continuous chronic low-grade inflammation as a result of inflammatory cytokines and increased plasma levels of CRP. As a result, this chronic inflammation has the ability to cause insulin resistance leading to the development of type 2 diabetes4.
A three year study which analysed the bone and joint health of 10,000 patient samples in India has found that inflammatory biomarkers, in particular CRP and ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate) were raised in most of the samples compared to any other markers5. Although CRP is a non-specific inflammatory biomarker, it can be used alongside other tests, such as Rheumatoid Factor, to diagnose inflammatory joint diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis. Not only will CRP levels be higher due to chronic inflammation, but CRP levels can be monitored to assess levels of inflammation over time, allowing clinicians offer effective treatment.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD is a condition associated with inflammation of the lungs and airways. Studies have shown that measuring CRP levels is beneficial to detect exacerbations, when symptoms of COPD get suddenly worse and can last for several days. This is because CRP levels spike when exacerbations happen, causing lung function to deteriorate6.
Neonatal Bacterial Infections
CRP is one of the preferred and frequently used tests in neonatal units when diagnosing suspected bacterial infections, such as neonatal sepsis, in newborns who show signs on infection. Due to delayed synthesis during the inflammatory response, the sensitivity of CRP is lowest during early stages of infection. It is therefore critical that extremely low levels of CRP can be detected during diagnosis to distinguish whether symptoms are related to an infectious or non-infectious condition. This early detection then allows for rapid and appropriate neonatal treatment7.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Research suggests that using CRP as an inflammatory biomarker can help distinguish between Inflammatory Bowel Disorder (IBD) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)8. Although IBD and IBS have some similarities in symptoms, IBD causes chronic inflammation, whereas IBS is a non-inflammatory condition. Therefore using CRP as a biomarker can allow clinicians to deliver a confident and accurate diagnosis.
For health professionals
Randox Laboratories manufacture a wide range routine and niche biochemistry reagents for use in both a research and clinical setting. With a wide measuring range, the Randox CRP assay will perform excellently to detect levels outside of the healthy range. Also available is a Full Range CRP assay particularly beneficial for use in a neonatal setting, and a High Sensitivity CRP assay, depending on your diagnostic requirements. For more information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Shrivastava, A. K., Singh, H.V., Raizada, A. and Singh, S.K. C-reactive protein, inflammation and coronary heart disease. The Egyptian Heart Journal. 67, 89-97. (2015)
- American Heart Association. Inflammation and Heart Disease. Available from: https://goo.gl/d82Ynr (2016)
- Harvard Health Publications. What you eat can fuel or cool inflammation. Harvard Health Publications. Available from: https://goo.gl/e8m3El (2007)
- Zeyda, M. and Stulnig, T. M. Obesity, Inflammation, and Insulin Resistance – A Mini-Review. Gerontology 2009; 55:379-386 (2009)
- Mukherjeel, R. Bone and joint health are crucial aspect, usually ignored by Indians. The Times of India. Available from: https://goo.gl/qluzhI (2016)
- Anderson, G. P. COPD, asthma and C-reactive protein. European Respiratory Journal 2006; 27: 874-876. (2006)
- Hofer, N., Zacharias, E., Müller, W. and Resch, B. An update on the Use of C-Reactive Protein in Early-Onset Neonatal Sepsis: Current Insights and New Tasks. Neonatology 2012; 102: 25-36 (2012)
- Silva, P. Two Specific Proteins Allow the Exclusion of IBD in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. IBD News Today. Available from: https://goo.gl/pxMP53 (2015)
Cholesterol is a fatty substance also known as a lipid. It is made by the liver but can also be found in some foods. It is essential to let the body function normally. You will be sad to hear that high levels can increase your risk of serious health conditions. There are two main types; high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL). HDL is known as good cholesterol. It carries cholesterol back to the liver, where it is broken down. LDL on the other hand carries cholesterol to the cells however if there is a surplus it can build up in the artery walls increasing the chances of a heart attack or stroke occurring.
Here are some scary facts about cholesterol…
- You can’t live without it – Cholesterol has been in your body since the day you were born. It is a building block for all cells. Not only that but all of our cells and hormones need it to function properly…unfortunately you are very unlikely to find good cholesterol in your typical trick-or-treat offerings.
- Not all patients on cholesterol-lowering medication respond optimally to it – In the recent past, aspirin (a drug used to reduce levels) was prescribed for people who had a perceived risk of a heart attack. However aspirin does not always work; up to 30% of patients could have a below optimum response to the drug and therefore be at a considerably increased risk of a recurrent cardiovascular event. This is may also be referred to as “aspirin resistance”.
- One third of adults have high cholesterol – Testing is advised every 5 years to monitor your levels to see any changes. To get the most accurate results tests should be carried out one week apart, however most testing facilities won’t follow this.
- High levels could be down to genetics – Diet you can change, genes you can’t! If your family has a history of high cholesterol then you are likely to have it as well. It has been suggested that 75% of cholesterol is due to genetics and the remaining 25% is down to diet and lifestyle choices.
- Women’s levels will fluctuate over their lifespan – Did you know that ladies? During the average woman’s lifespan, cholesterol levels will rise and fall due to pregnancy and menopause. During pregnancy levels will rise in order to help the baby develop. After birth the mother’s levels should return to normal however after menopause a woman’s LDL levels will rise to that higher of a man’s.
However it is not all doom and gloom this Halloween! Randox are here to treat you to a vast range of specialised blood tests to allow the most accurate diagnosis of cholesterol levels, allowing you to gauge how many sweets you can sneak in this Halloween! We offer a large array of routine and niche tests. The most popular and widely tested are HDL, LDL, total cholesterol and triglycerides. Some further risk assessment cholesterol tests which are not routinely run include sLDL, HDL3, Lp(a). These cholesterol biomarkers are also affected by the usual risk factors such as age, weight, smoking, etc.; however they can also be a result of one’s genes. As mentioned before aspirin resistance is a big problem affecting up to 30% of all patients on aspirin therapy. However Randox offer the TxBCardio™ test which is a unique test to diagnose and assess the effectiveness of aspirin therapy.
From all of us here at Randox we wish you a safe and happy Halloween!
For health professionals
Randox Laboratories manufacture a wide range of routine and niche biochemistry reagents suitable for both research and clinical use. These include a wide variety of automated routine and niche cardiac tests and our new HDL3-C assay. Please contact email@example.com for further information.
Do you want to have optimal brain function later in life? We do. The majority of people focus on keeping their bodies in optimal condition but often forget about the most important organ, the brain. With more of us living until we’re much older, reduced brain function and Alzheimer’s are becoming increasingly more common; it is one of the most feared consequences of aging. We expect our bodies to age due to wear and tear; however there are easy ways to slow it, you will be glad to hear. Here are some top tips to keep your brain health at its peak.
- Get physical exercise
It is becoming an increasingly well-known fact by scientists that regular exercise may be the single most important thing you can do to ensure optimum brain health. The reason for this is that exercise increases the blood supply to your brain so therefore increases your brain capacity. Experts advise 30 minutes of exercise every other day to ensure good mental health. Exercise also helps with cholesterol levels, mental stress and diabetes.
- Eat, eat, eat
Good nutrition is also essential for good brain health. Your brain is no different to any other organ: the better the fuel it receives; the better it works, simple. As with everything it is important to keep your calories in check as it has been proven to reduce mental illness. We aim to reduce the consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol as these can decrease brain function. No matter who you are, vitamins are also very important to ensure not only a healthy brain, but a healthy body. Vitamins of particular importance are folic acid, B6 and B12 which it is well-known can help lower your homocysteine levels. There is an ever-growing body of research which suggests that homocysteine levels have a strong correlation with Alzheimer’s and dementia. If you would like to read more about the link between homocysteine and Alzheimer’s, check out our previous blog post ‘How important is homocysteine research for Alzheimer’s disease?’
- Get enough sleep
Recent studies have suggested that a poor sleeping pattern is linked with cognitive decline in old age. A good night’s rest can actually double the chances of finding creative solutions to problems faced in everyday life! It has been proven that when we don’t sleep, proteins build up on the brain. These proteins build on the synapses, making it hard to think and learn new information; which is not conducive to good brain health.
Relaxation is key in a healthy lifestyle. Stress has a negative impact on the brain. It creates harmful chemicals to flow over areas of the brain that are in control of memory. Too much of these chemicals can lead to dementia and other memory loss related diseases, so maybe it’s not such a bad idea that you take that trip to the Bahamas you were thinking about!
- Improve you cholesterol
Cholesterol is commonly split up into good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL). There are loads of ways to improve your cholesterol levels such as exercise, weight control, dieting and avoiding tobacco. It is very important to keep you levels of LDL down as high levels can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s, dementia and cardiac problems in old age. At Randox we are constantly coming up with new and exciting ways of monitoring your cholesterol and the launch of our new HDL3 test is coming soon. For more information on HDL3, check it out here!
- Brain exercises
Challenging your mind from time to time is important for good brain health; it keeps your brain active and uses cognitive thought to try and learn or solve a problem. It is thought that a lack of education is a strong influence in cognitive decline. Challenging your brain improves memory, develops critical thinking and stimulates the whole brain ensuring brain health is kept to a maximum. It can often be done in fun ways like brain teasers, puzzles and jigsaws. Check out our recent brain teaser here!
These are only some of the ways in which to keep your brain in peak condition. Aging will take a toll on everyone and it is impossible to avoid; however these 6 techniques can help maintain optimal brain function! We have been keeping up to date with Alzheimer’s in celebration of World Alzheimer’s Month. Remember a healthy brain is the key to success!
For health professionals
Randox Laboratories manufacture a wide range of routine and niche biochemistry reagents suitable for both research and clinical use. These include an automated homocysteine test and our new HDL3 cholesterol assay. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
The transition period between late pregnancy and the onset of lactation requires quick metabolic adaption by dairy cattle as foetal growth, calving and the onset of lactation causes increased energy demands on the body. To support the increase in energy requirements, increased nutrients are required; however, limitations to dietary intake can occur as a result of reduced appetite caused by the growing foetus restricting the size of the rumen. In addition, during this period almost all glucose intake is utilised for lactose synthesis. As a result, during the transition period dairy cattle can be prone to negative energy balance.
Negative energy balance occurs when energy demands exceed dietary intake, and in cases where energy requirements are not met by diet, dairy cattle will utilise their own fat reserves as an energy source; this being non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), a major component of triglycerides (fats) in the body. Excessive metabolism of NEFA, however, can result in accumulation of fat which can result in fatty liver disease (resulting in decreased liver function), and ketosis which can be toxic and damaging to the liver and kidneys (it has been associated with pregnancy complications, decreased milk production and hypoglycaemia).
Additionally, during the transition period, as a result of the increase in metabolic processes, dairy cattle are more susceptible to metabolic stress. This is due to the increase in Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS).
ROS are free radical by-products of normal metabolic processes which can be harmful and destructive to the cells in the body. To defend against them the body utilises antioxidants to inhibit the formation of free radicals, destroy free radicals or repair the damage caused by free radicals; however if there is an imbalance of antioxidants to ROS then the body’s natural defence system is decreased. This can result in free radical damage to surrounding cells, tissue and DNA.
Free radicals have been implicated in many disease states in addition to suppression of the immune response system. As a result, in the first 10 days after calving dairy cows are at maximum risk of infectious and metabolic disorders; in fact, approximately 75% of disease occurs in herds within the first month of lactation (Abuelo et al. 2014). Complications for dairy cattle suffering metabolic stress include not only fatty liver disease and ketosis, but also mastitis, retained foetal membranes, reduced milk production and increased risk of cancer, CVD, lung, liver and renal disease, inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, infectious conditions, and, neurological disorders.
How can the health and well-being of dairy cattle be protected during the transition period?
To ensure animal well-being, and indeed reduce economic impact for dairy farmers, dairy cattle should be monitored for their antioxidant capacity, particularly during pregnancy. As the antioxidant defence system includes many components, the Total Antioxidant Status (TAS) test is used to assess overall antioxidant capacity. This test is beneficial in gaining an overall view of the body’s ability to defend against free radical attack; it can therefore help to determine if nutritional supplements are required to ensure good body condition during the transition period. Further antioxidant testing may be required to ensure nutritional requirements are fully understood before antioxidant supplementation begins.
In addition, the NEFA test indicates negative energy balance, and can therefore be used to monitor whether their nutrient intake is adequate for the high energy demands experienced during the transition period. Additionally, research (Li, H.Q et al. 2016) has found that supplementing dairy cattle with rumen-protected folic acid (RPFA) may benefit negative energy balance by decreasing plasma concentrations of NEFA and increasing glucose plasma. Results show increased milk protein levels and improved nutrient ingestion, milk production and reproductive performance.
Abuelo A., Hernandez J. and Beneditor J.L (2014) The importance of oxidative status of dairy carrel in the periparturient period: revisiting antioxidant supplementation. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition. 99(6):1003-1016
Li, H. Q., et al. (2016) Effects of dietary supplements of rumen-protected folic acid on lactation performance, energy balance, blood parameters and reproductive performance in dairy cows. Animal Feed Science and Technology