Honors Projects for Food Science and Human Nutrition

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    Regulation of Sphingosine Kinase 1 and Adipose Inflammation by Momordica charantia (Bitter Melon) in High-Fat Diet-Fed Mice
    (University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2015-05) Orias, Daniella ; Nerurkar, Pratibha ; Food Science and Human Nutrition
    In Hawaii, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders have the highest rates of obesity as compared to Caucasians. Lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise form the cornerstone of obesity therapies. We have demonstrated that tropical functional foods such as Momordica charantia (bitter melon, BM) reduced weight gain and improved glucose metabolism in mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD). Studies indicate that sphingosine kinase 1 (SPK1) is an intracellular regulator of adipose inflammation that precedes systemic inflammation. Since our published data indicated that BM juice (BM) improved systemic inflammation in HFD-fed mice, we tested the hypothesis that BM will reduce adipose inflammation by regulating SPK1. Male C57BL/6 mice were randomized to four groups: 1) control diet (10% kCal fat), 2) BM (1.5% lyophilized juice, w/w), 3) HFD (60% kCal fat) and 4) HFD + BM. Body weights were measured three times a week for 16 weeks. Our preliminary results indicate that BM significantly reduced weight gain, adipose tissue weights and adipose inflammation in HFD-fed mice. Interestingly, BM-associated reduction in adipose inflammation was not associated with SPK1 regulation in HFD-fed mice. Future studies will identify alternate BM-associated mechanisms involved in ameliorating HFDinduced adipose inflammation. Significance: Mechanistic studies of functional foods are expected to offer cost-effective treatment strategies to alleviate obesity and associated disorders.
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    Horticulture as Therapy in University Settings: A Manual for University Mental Health Allies
    (University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2015-05) Harter, Rebekah ; Cusick, John ; Food Science and Human Nutrition
    It is no surprise to anyone that university campuses are hubs of mental illness. Pressures from bosses, professors, peers, and parents, push many students into a constant state of anxiety and depression. With limited outlets for students to seek sanctuary, there is a desperate grab for anything that offers solace. This in turn leads many to addiction, alcoholism, eating disorders, self-injury, and depression. University counseling centers are often stretched thin as they attempt to accommodate the rise of new clients and create a welcoming environment which eliminates any intimidation students may feel due to the stigma of mental illness. How do we improve the mental health on university campuses, change negative beliefs concerning help-seeking behavior and mental illness, and alleviate some of the burden felt by university counseling centers? Horticulture Therapy might very well be the answer to these questions. Horticulture therapy is defined as the use of plants and the natural environment to achieve a clinically defined goal. These goals, while unique for each individualized client, therapist, and setting, often include increased social interaction, productivity, creativeness, positive coping, personal reflection, wellbeing, physical activity, and decreased anxiety, depression, and stress. The main objective of this project was to bring research regarding the therapeutic use of horticulture into the hands of university mental health allies, and in doing so, encourage the implementation of these programs into the mental health strategic plan of universities. In order to do this, a centralized, easily-accessible, comprehensive, coherent, and free resource regarding the basic therapeutic concepts and the development of such a program was produced.
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    Comparison of Myostatin-Inhibitory Capacity of Various Myostatin-Binding Proteins Using a Luciferase Gene Reporter Assay System
    (University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2014-01-15) Rodriguez, Noelani ; Kim, Yong Soo ; Food Science and Human Nutrition
    Myostatin (MSTN) is a negative muscle growth regulator, thus MSTN-binding molecules may be developed as agents to treat muscle-wasting conditions in humans and to improve muscle growth in meat-producing animals. The objectives of the research project were 1) to optimize the HEK293 (CAGA)12-luciferase gene reporter assay system, an in vitro system for the measurement of MSTN bioactivity, and 2) to compare the inhibitory capacities of three MSTN- binding proteins using a HEK293 (CAGA)12-luciferase gene reporter assay system. The three MSTN-inhibitory proteins used in this study included MSTN prodomain, follistatin (FST), and follistatin related gene product (FLRG). Based on optimization results of the system, a standard amount of MSTN, cell concentration, and cell incubation time were used to test the MSTN- inhibitory capacity of the three proteins. Various concentrations of the above proteins were examined for their MSTN-inhibitory capacity, then the half maximal inhibition concentration of each molecule was determined. Results of the optimization study showed that an appropriate cell concentration was 4X10^4 cells per well in a 96-well plate in overnight incubation. The optimal time for luciferase activity measurement was determined to be between 12 and 24 hours after MSTN addition. In conclusion, FST was the most potent inhibitor of MSTN; followed by FLRG MSTN prodomain, with the half-maximal inhibition concentrations of 0.36, 0.91, and 3.39 nM, respectively. The results of this study demonstrated that the HEK293 (CAGA)12-luciferase gene reporter assay system is useful in screening the capacity of MSTN inhibition of MSTN-binding molecules rapidly in vitro. Use of this system can contribute to future studies on the identification and function of various MSTN-binding molecules.