Cambridge England Nrf2 Conference – Day 2 Highlights

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.

Here are some updates from Day 2 of the Nrf2 Conference at Cambridge University.

Dr. Sabine Werner from the Institute for Molecular Health Science in Germany talked about the role of Nrf2 in the skin – as a key regulator of the cellular stress response and trigger for production of cytoprotective proteins involved in skin protection and healing. Loss of Nrf2 activity causes delayed wound healing and strongly enhances skin cancer – so the activation level of Nrf2 is critical for healthy skin.

Dr. Miguel Soares from the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia in Portugal delivered presentation about how Nrf2 acts as a master regulator of tissue damage control in disease tolerance. He described a 3-part scenario (“ART”) of tissue protection via Nrf2, including Avoidance of damage (by protective cellular enzymes), Resistance (to cellular stress), and Tolerance (where the cell responds to cellular stressor with adaptations of repair and rejuvenation to tolerate future stressors).

Dr. Jeffrey Johnson from the University of Wisconsin shared his insights into the role of Nrf2 activation in preventing neurodegeneration. He noted that cellular stress and neuron (brain cell) damage is a hallmark of multiple chronic brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease). Dr. Johnson described a series of elegant experiments showing how Nrf2 activation is a novel neuroprotection pathway that confers resistance to a variety of neurogenerative insults. In short, Nrf2 activation protects brain cells from initial damage and improves resistance to future damage. Truly remarkable potential for future prevention and treatment of brain disorders and damage.

This 2nd day of the conference also saw a number of scientific poster presentations – more than 60 in all – describing various aspects of Nrf2 metabolism for not just the reduction of cellular stress and improved cell cell function, but also for a wide range of metabolic effects including energy metabolism (fat/glucose metabolism), muscle synthesis, cancer prevention, brain protection, skin health, liver function, hormone balance, and many others. The more we learn about the various functions of the Nrf2 pathway, the more it makes sense that it should be involved in “everything” related to the maintenance of cellular balance and optimal health at the cellular and genetic level.

Two posters that I’d like to highlight are mine about “Phytonutrient activation of the Nrf2 pathway” and Dr. Sveta Silverman’s about breast cancer. Both posters and abstracts are included below.

In Dr. Silverman’s poster, she describes the evaluation of breast cancer in subjects taking the Nrf2-synergy herbal supplement Protandim.

Here is the Abstract from Dr. Silverman’s poster:

P060 Morphologic comparison of three cases of Low Grade Invasive Ductal Carcinoma: one case of 60 y.o. female on phytochemical NRF2 activator for 7 months, one case of 69 y.o. female on neo-adjuvant hormonal therapy for
8 month, one case of 70 y.o. female with no pre-surgical intervention

Sveta Silverman, Misericordia Hospital, Edmonton, Canada

Oxidative stress plays an important role in etiology of breast cancer. Nrf2 is a transcription factor that regulates an expression of a large number of antioxidant and cytoprotective genes; it has been demonstrated to be protective against cancer. Protandim, a proprietary bland of 5 botanicals (bacopa, ashwaghanda, milk thistle, green tea and turmeric), synergistically activates NRF2 factor.

To date, there are no reports on pathologic evaluation of breast carcinoma in patients taking Protandim. We present three cases of breast Invasive Ductal Carcinoma with similar pathologic grade and stage from one patient on Protandim, one patient post neo-adjuvant hormonal therapy and control case of Breast Carcinoma with no previous tumor alteration. The morphologic appearance of breast carcinoma from patient, obtaining Protandim and from patient on Letrozole is quite similar displaying cellular degeneration. There is no cellular degenerative effect, identified in control case.

We hypothesized that Protandim, via NRF2 up-regulation, caused tumor cell degeneration. This is a purely observational study with very narrow “cohort” to draw any conclusions, and further clinicopathologic correlation with more and more similar studies is needed.

Here is Dr. Silverman’s poster = Silverman Nrf2 London

In my poster presentation, I describe the main benefits of synergistic phytonutrient activation of the Nrf2 pathway, using specific data from studies of Nrf2-synergizing products Protandim (oral dietary supplement) and TrueScience (topical cell balancer):

  • Increases tissue Nrf2 protein levels
  • Stimulates production of endogenous antioxidant enzymes
  • Induces genes associated with cellular health
  • Diminishes DNA damage (UV-induced)
  • Reduces biochemical markers of cellular stress
  • Demonstrates oral and topical efficacy

Here is the Abstract from my poster:

P011 Phytonutrient activation of the Nrf2 pathway

Shawn M. Talbott, LifeVantage Corp, Sandy, USA

A number of natural dietary compounds have been shown to modulate expression of hundreds of genes associated with superior health of the heart, colon, brain, and other tissues – suggesting that our cells possess all the genetic resources required to maintain proper oxidative balance, promote health, and slow the aging process at the genetic level by triggering the Nrf2 pathway.

Interestingly, many “healthy” foods may actually owe many of their health-promoting benefits to the induction of Nrf2 pathways by naturally-occurring bioactive compounds. For example, sul- foraphane from broccoli, curcumin from turmeric, resveratrol from red grapes/wine, quercetin from apples/onions, catechins from tea, and many others.
Natural Nrf2 activators have been studied in a variety of scenarios, including in vitro, in vivo, and gene expression microarray analysis. Because Nrf2 regulates the gene expression of a wide variety of antioxidant enzymes and cytoprotective proteins, it is logical for natural Nrf2 triggering to play a pivotal role in the cellular defense against environmental stresses, par- ticularly against diseases related to immune and inflammatory responses, tissue remodeling and fibrosis, carcinogenesis and metastasis, and neurological and cognitive dysfunction.
This presentation will examine a range of experiments on phytonutrient activators of the Nrf2 pathway and induction of endogenous antioxidant enzymes (catalase, heme-oxygenase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, and others) to elucidate the potential of natural Nrf2 triggering not only for specific disease prevention, but also for general health promotion.

Here is my Poster = Talbott Nrf2 London Poster_v1

It’s been a great conference so far – the last day (Day 3) is today – so look for another set of highlights tomorrow.

Thanks for reading,



Shawn M. Talbott, Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACN, FACSM, FAIS

Nutritional Biochemist and Author

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About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

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