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Pregnenolone and Heart Disease

Posted by wmagnus On May - 17 - 2010

More and more synthetic steroids and related compounds are available at the health food store every day. Whether it’s DHEA, 7-keto, pregnenolone, or any of numerous steroid “production enhancers,” there’s a dizzying array of bottles of pills out there. Do any of them help at all with aging against the machine?

Researchers in Germany and UK have found a new mechanism that suggests that at least one of these vitamin shop steroids may be effective. Enter pregnenolone sulfate.

The original paper is a tough read for those without strong biochemistry backgrounds but the summary at Science Daily is much clearer if a little heavy on hyperbole.

Working with his colleagues from several European universities, lead researcher David Beech not only found that there are previously unknown ion channels in smooth muscle cells but that these channels when turned on greatly enhance the function of these cells in blood vessels. Further, the cells produce fewer inflammatory compounds that can lead to heart disease.

“The effect that we have seen is really quite exciting and also unexpected,” said Professor David Beech.

The channels are activated by the presence of pregnenolone sulfate, a neurohormone that is widely available at vitamin shops. They did find that the presence of high levels of cholesterol blunted the effect of pregnenolone on the ion channels. The researchers go so far as to suggest that further research could be combining pregnenolone supplementation with cholesterol lowering medication. That’s the kind of talk you’ll find in the discussion section of a paper, more to show other scientists that the original researchers are thinking beyond just today’s project.

His Take: I’ve been a fan of pregnenolone for a while. It’s been under investigation for effects on cognitive functioning but it’s also a prohormone that can be cross converted by the body into a variety of useful hormones as needed. This paper shows there’s a direct effect of pregnenolone that might help one age against the machine.

Her Take: This paper is certainly an important and exciting stepping stone to other research that may someday change how high cholesterol and heart disease are treated clinically. However, it’s important to remember that this research was not conducted on humans.

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