Monday, 27 April 2015

RAS signaling, Autism, Cancer and Gingerols

Sytrinol (Tangeretin), sacrificial Gummy Bear and Gingerol

Today’s post follows on from an earlier one that introduced the term RASopathy.  A RASopathy is a disease characterized by over-activation of the RAS protein.

RASopathies are of interest because if you have one, you are highly likely to also have autism.

RAS dysfunction is also present in many types of cancer and there are existing drugs to inhibit RAS signaling.  It has been claimed that:-

"If RAS proves to be a key player in autism …  it might suggest new treatments for autism, as many cancer drugs inhibit RAS signaling."

Regular readers of the Simons Foundation autism blog may have read the following:


If RAS proves to be a key player in autism, she says, it might suggest new treatments for autism, as many cancer drugs inhibit RAS signaling.

RAS-based interventions

My Polypill already has one RAS-based component, the statin.  This (the statin) is now being patented by the University of California.

Professor Alcino Silva and colleagues at the UCLA department of Neurobiology have repurposed HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (or statins) to reverse the cognitive dysfunction associated with RASopathies. By blocking HMG-CoA reductase, the drug prevents overactivation of the Ras protein, which leads to deficits in long term potentiation, a mechanism of learning and memory. Using in vivo models of NF1 and Noonan Syndrome, the researchers have shown that lovastatin is able to restore both LTP deficits and cognitive function to wild-type levels.
• Treatment of cognitive dysfunction associated with NF1
• Treatment of cognitive dysfunction associated with Noonan syndrome
• Treatment of other disorders driven by hyperactivation of the Ras-MAPK pathway
• Statins would represent the first and only drug available to treat the cognitive defects observed in NF1, Noonan and other RASopathies
• Statins have already been approved by the FDA as a cholesterol-lowering drug, demonstrating an amenable safety profile in humans
• Effectiveness in restoring cognitive function has been demonstrated in vivo


The studies using Lovastatin were positive:-

However in the following trial in the Netherlands, Simvastatin was shown not to be effective in NF-1.

The UCLA team seem to think Lovastatin has potential, even though Simvastatin appears not to.

There is a comprehensive presentation from Silvalab at UCLA below,

It seems that in Rett Syndrome (not a RASopathy) statins may also help.

So choose your statin with care. 

We use Atorvastatin.  It works; but it has various possible modes of action, one of which is RAS.  Another is upregulating PTEN.

Upregulating PTEN is good, but if used to excess it may lead to reduced insulin sensitivity and type 2 diabetes.

However, anti-oxidants, sulfurophane and PPAR gamma agonists (Gingerols, tangeretin) all increase insulin sensitivity so this tiny risk can be mitigated.  Verapamil protects beta cells (that produce insulin) from damage.

Statin MAX

I was interested in further increasing the RAS inhibition to see if there would be further cognitive or other improvement.  This is not possible via increasing the dose of statin, but it is possible by using Farnesyltransferase inhibitors, these are mainly anti-cancer research compounds, but one is the flavonoid Gingerol.

Ginger is another of those substances that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine. Gingerols are found in uncooked ginger.

Gingerols in “Medicine”

Fortunately ginger has many claimed medical benefits, ranging from arthritis to cancer prevention and treatment.  As a result standardized concentrated versions are widely available.

When it comes to my experiments, one problem has been the taste of the substance and the loss in bioavailability by having to open up/crush the various substances.

Swallowing Pills

Swallowing pills is not an option for some people, but in some cases you lose the effect of a drug if you remove the outer coating.  This is true with the drugs that lower the acidity of your stomach (Proton Pump Inhibitors).  They are designed to dissolve in the acidity of your intestines and not before.

Sytrinol ,the tangeretin flavonoid that is an attractive PPAR gamma inhibitor, is packed in a thick capsule, because the research shows this increases its bioavailability.  So me squeezing it out on a piece of toast will dilute its potency.  

Having obtained my high gingerol content potion, the first thing I did was to open the capsule and taste it.  Not nice at all.

Monty, aged 11 with ASD, has an elder brother who makes an enormous fuss on the very rare occasion he has to swallow a tablet.

Having overcome the usual autism problems of visiting a dentist and a hairdresser, the time had come for Monty to learn how to swallow pills.

In the end it was a non-event.

Having agreed that a gummy bear would be the reward and with the usual glass of water sitting beside it, the lesson began.  I put a NAC pill on my tongue and he put a Tangeretin capsule on his.

Before I could even suggest he drank some water, he had swallow the Tangeretin and bitten the head off the gummy bear.

This was swiftly followed by the rather odd smelling gingerol capsule.

So, rather unexpectedly, I can proceed with my gingerol investigation.

Gingerol may or may not be effective in our type of autism, but the research is highly promising in several other areas, some comorbid* with autism.

·        Asthma*
·        Ulcerative Colitis*
·        Arthritis *
·        Alzheimer’s Disease
·        Cancer*

No data suggests people with ASD are prone to Alzheimer’s, although some Alzheimer’s drugs do help some people with ASD.  It may just be that people with ASD do not make it to their eighties. 


Ginger is very widely used and I do not see any safety issues, just taste issues.


Clinical Relevance

Natural herbal remedies, including ginger, have long been used to treat respiratory conditions. Many individuals with asthma use herbal therapies to self-treat their asthma symptoms; however, little is known regarding how these compounds work in the airway. In the current work, we show that 6-gingerol, 8-gingerol, and 6-shogaol potentiate b-agonistinduced relaxation of airway smooth muscle by inhibiting both phosphodiesterase 4D and phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C, leading to downstream regulation of contractile proteins. These data suggest that natural compounds can work in combination with traditional asthma therapies to relieve asthma symptoms.


“In conclusion, these data document a very significant joint-protective effect of these ginger samples, and suggest that non-gingerol components are bioactive and can enhance the antiarthritic effects of the more widely studied gingerols.”

Arthritis. Some research shows that taking ginger can modestly reduce pain in some people with a form of arthritis called “osteoarthritis.” One study shows that taking a specific ginger extract (Zintona EC) 250 mg four times daily reduced arthritis pain in the knee after 3 months of treatment. Another study shows that using a different ginger extract (Eurovita Extract 77; EV ext-77), which combines a ginger with alpinia also reduces pain upon standing, pain after walking, and stiffness. Some research has compared ginger to medications such as ibuprofen. In one study, a specific ginger extract (Eurovita Extract 33; EV ext-33) did not work as well as taking ibuprofen 400 mg three times daily for reducing arthritis pain. But in another study, taking ginger extract 500 mg twice daily worked about as well as ibuprofen 400 mg three times daily for hip and knee pain related to arthritis. In another study, a specific ginger extract combined with glucosamine (Zinaxin glucosamine, EV ext-35) worked as well as the anti-inflamatory medication diclofenac slow release 100 mg daily plus glucosamine sulfate 1 gram daily. Research also suggests that massage therapy using an oil containing ginger and orange seems to reduce short-term stiffness and pain in people with knee pain.

Ulcerative Colitis

Gingerols are phenolic compounds in ginger (Zingiber officinale), which have been reported to exhibit anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer properties. The present study aimed at evaluating the possible pharmacologic activity of 6-gingerol in a mouse model of dextran sulphate sodium (DSS)-induced ulcerative colitis. Adult male mice were exposed to DSS in drinking water alone or co-treated with 6-gingerol orally at 50, 100, and 200 mg/kg for 7 days. Disease activity index, inflammatory mediators, oxidative stress indices, and histopathological examination of the colons were evaluated to monitor treatment-related effects of 6-gingerol in DSS-treated mice. Administration of 6-gingerol significantly reversed the DSS-mediated reduction in body weight, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and colon shrinkage to near normal. Moreover, 6-gingerol significantly suppressed the circulating concentrations of interleukin-1β and tumor necrosis factor alpha and restored the colonic nitric oxide concentration and myeloperoxidase activity to normal in DSS-treated mice. 6-Gingerol efficiently prevented colonic oxidative damage by increasing the activities of antioxidant enzymes and glutathione content, decreasing the hydrogen peroxide and malondialdehyde levels, and ameliorated the colonic atrophy in DSS-treated mice. 6-Gingerol suppressed the induction of ulcerative colitis in mice via antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, and may thus represent a potential anticolitis drug candidate.


6-gingerol inhibits rosiglitazone-induced adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 adipocytes.


We investigated the effects of 6-gingerol ((S)-5-hydroxy-1-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-3-decanone) on the inhibition of rosiglitazone (RGZ)-induced adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 cells. The morphological changes were photographed based on staining lipid accumulation by Oil-Red O in RGZ (1 µmol/l)-treated 3T3-L1 cells without or with various concentrations of 6-gingerol on differentiation day 8. Quantitation of triglycerides content was performed in cells on day 8 after differentiation induction. Differentiated cells were lysed to detect mRNA and protein levels of adipocyte-specific transcription factors by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and Western blot analysis, respectively. 6-gingerol (50 µmol/l) effectively suppressed oil droplet accumulation and reduced the sizes of the droplets in RGZ-induced adipocyte differentiation in 3T3-L1 cells. The triglyceride accumulation induced by RGZ in differentiated 3T3-L1 cells was also reduced by 6-gingerol (50 µmol/l). Treatment of differentiated 3T3-L1 cells with 6-gingerol (50 µmol/l) antagonized RGZ-induced gene expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)γ and CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein α. Additionally, the increased levels of mRNA and protein in adipocyte-specific fatty acid binding protein 4 and fatty acid synthase induced by RGZ in 3T3-L1 cells were decreased upon treatment with 6-gingerol. Our data suggests that 6-gingerol may be beneficial in obesity, by reducing adipogenesis partly through the down-regulating PPARγ activity.

ABSTRACT In this study, we demonstrated that the two ginger-derived components have a potent and unique pharmacological function in 3T3-L1 adipocytes via different mechanisms. Both pretreatment of 6-shogaol (6S) and 6-gingerol (6G) significantly inhibited the tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) mediated downregulation of the adiponectin expression in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Our study demonstrate that (1) 6S functions as a PPARgamma agonist with its inhibitory mechanism due to the PPARgamma transactivation, and (2) 6G is not a PPARgamma agonist, but it is an effective inhibitor of TNF-alpha induced c-Jun-NH(2)-terminal kinase signaling activation and thus, its inhibitory mechanism is due to this inhibitory effect.

Microglial Activation

Abstract: Microglial cells play a dual role in the central nervous system as they have both neurotoxic and neuroprotective effects. Uncontrolled and excessive activation of microglia often contributes to inflammation-mediated neurodegeneration. Recently, much attention has been paid to therapeutic strategies aimed at inhibiting neurotoxic microglial activation.
Pharmacological inhibitors of microglial activation are emerging as a result of such endeavors. In this review, natural products-based inhibitors of microglial activation will be reviewed. Potential neuroprotective activity of these compounds will also be discussed.
Future works should focus on the discovery of novel drug targets that specifically mediate microglial neurotoxicity rather than neuroprotection. Development of new drugs based on these targets may require a better understanding of microglial biology and neuroinflammation at the molecular, cellular, and systems levels.

8. Gingerol from Zingiber officinale
Ginger, the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale, has a long history of medicinal use. In traditional oriental medicine, ginger has been used to treat a wide range of ailments including stomach aches, diarrhea, nausea, asthma, respiratory disorders, toothache, gingivitis, and arthritis [98-100]. Several studies have shown that ginger inhibits pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IL-1β, IL-2 , TNF-α, and interferon (IFN)-gamma [101]. Ginger also has been shown to decrease synthesis of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins and leukotrienes via inhibition of COX-2 and 5-lipoxygenase (5- LOX) enzymes, which are the targets for numerous anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals.
Grzanna et al. tested the effects of a ginger extract on THP-1 monocytic cells to determine whether it can block the induction of pro-inflammatory cytokines in these cells stimulated with LPS. The results of this study suggest that the anti-inflammatory properties of the ginger extract may provide beneficial effects similar to those of currently used COX inhibitors [102].
Recently, Jung et al. reported that the hexane fraction of Zingiberis Rhizoma Crudus extract inhibits the production of nitric oxide and pro-inflammatory cytokines in LPS-stimulated BV-2 microglial cells via the NF-κB pathway [103]. The authors indicated that ginger hexane extract significantly inhibited the excessive production of NO, PGE2, TNF-α, and IL-1β in LPS-stimulated BV-2 cells. Ginger extract also attenuated the mRNA expressions and protein levels of iNOS, COX-2, and proinflammatory cytokines. The molecular mechanisms that underlie ginger hexane extract-mediated attenuation of neuroinflammation were related to the inhibition of the phosphorylation of three mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2), p38 MAPK, and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and the activation of NF-κB [103].
6-Gingerol (Figure 2B), one of the active ingredients of ginger, has been reported to impart ginger with its anti-inflammatory properties. The 6-gingerol inhibited the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines from LPS-stimulated macrophages, and inhibited COX-2 expression by blocking the activation of p38 MAP kinase and NF-κB in phorbol ester-stimulated mouse skin [104-105]. Data indicate that several doses of 6-gingerol selectively inhibit production of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α, IL-1, and IL-12 by murine peritoneal macrophages in the presence of LPS stimulation.
The authors also revealed that 6-gingerol does not affect antigen presenting cell (APC) function or cell surface expression of MHC II and co-stimulatory molecules [105]. These remarkable beneficial properties of ginger and 6-gingerol and the lack of gastrointestinal and renal side effects distinguish it from other NSAIDS. Considering the broad spectrum of ginger’s anti-inflammatory actions and its safety record in clinical trials, it is likely to be a valuable dietary supplement in the treatment of neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory diseases. However, the ability of gingerol to cross bloodbrain barrier has not yet been explicitly demonstrated and needs further investigation.


Alzheimer’s Disease

At least in rats, we know that Gingerol does cross the blood brain barrier.

Protective effects of ginger root extract on Alzheimer disease-induced behavioral dysfunction in rats.


The aim of this study was to assess the ability of a traditional Chinese medicinal ginger root extract (GRE) to prevent behavioral dysfunction in the Alzheimer disease (AD) rat model. Rat AD models were established by an operation (OP) in which rats were treated with a one-time intra-cerebroventricuIar injection of amyloid β-protein (Aβ) and continuous gavage of aluminum chloride every day for 4 weeks. GRE was administered intra-gastrically to rats. After 35 days, learning and memory were assessed in all of the rats. Brain sections were processed for immunohistochemistry and Hematoxylin & Eosin (H&E) and Nissl staining. The latency to show significant memory deficits was shorter in the group that received OP with a high dose of GRE (HG)(OP+HG) than in the groups that received OP with a low or moderate dose of GRE (LG, MG)(OP+LG, OP+MG) (p<0.05). The expression of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) in the OP+MG and OP+LG groups was up-regulated compared to the OP+HG groups (p<0.05). The rats in the OP+HG groups had lower levels of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), and malondialdehyde (MDA) expression than the rats in the OP+MG and OP+LG groups (p<0.05). This experiment demonstrates that the administration of GRE reverses behavioral dysfunction and prevents AD-like symptoms in our rat model.


β-Amyloid (Aβ) is involved in the formation of senile plaques, the typical neuropathological marker for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and has been reported to cause apoptosis in neurons via oxidative and/or nitrosative stress. In this study, we have investigated the neuroprotective effect and molecular mechanism of [6]-gingerol, a pungent ingredient of ginger against Αβ25–35-induced oxidative and/or nitrosative cell death in SH-SY5Y cells. [6]-Gingerol pretreatment protected against Aβ25–35-induced cytotoxicity and apoptotic cell death such as DNA fragmentation, disruption of mitochondrial membrane potential, elevated Bax/Bcl-2 ratio, and activation of caspase-3. To elucidate the neuroprotective mechanism of [6]-gingerol, we have examined Aβ25–35-induced oxidative and/or nitrosative stress and cellular antioxidant defense system against them. [6]-Gingerol effectively suppressed Aβ25–35-induced intracellular accumulation of reactive oxygen and/or nitrogen species and restored Aβ25–35-depleted endogenous antioxidant glutathione levels. Furthermore, [6]-gingerol treatment up-regulated the mRNA and protein expression of antioxidant enzymes such as γ-glutamylcysteine ligase (GCL) and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), the rate limiting enzymes in the glutathione biosynthesis and the degradation of heme, respectively. The expression of aforementioned antioxidant enzymes seemed to be mediated by activation of NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2). These results suggest that [6]-gingerol exhibits preventive and/or therapeutic potential for the management of AD via augmentation of antioxidant capacity.


NAC interferes with some anti-cancer actions, be careful if self treating


Ginger, the rhizome of Zingiber officinale, is a traditional medicine with anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties. This study examined the growth inhibitory effects of the structurally related compounds 6-gingerol and 6-shogaol on human cancer cells. 6-Shogaol [1-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-4-decen-3-one] inhibits the growth of human cancer cells and induces apoptosis in COLO 205 cells through modulation of mitochondrial functions regulated by reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS generation occurs in the early stages of 6-shogaol-induced apoptosis, preceding cytochrome c release, caspase activation, and DNA fragmentation. Up-regulation of Bax, Fas, and FasL, as well as down-regulation of Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL were observed in 6-shogaol-treated COLO 205 cells. N-acetylcysteine (NAC), but not by other antioxidants, suppress 6-shogaol-induced apoptosis. The growth arrest and DNA damage (GADD)-inducible transcription factor 153 (GADD153) mRNA and protein is markedly induced in a time- and concentration-dependent manner in response to 6-shogaol.

In the antioxidant activity assay, [6]-gingerol, [8]-gingerol, [10]-gingerol and [6]-shogaol exhibited substantial scavenging activities with IC50 values of 26.3, 19.47, 10.47 and 8.05 μM against DPPH radical, IC50 values of 4.05, 2.5, 1.68 and 0.85 μM against superoxide radical and IC50 values of 4.62, 1.97, 1.35 and 0.72 μM against hydroxyl radical, respectively. The free radical scavenging activity of these compounds also enhanced with increasing concentration (P < 0.05). On the other hand, all the compounds at a concentration of 6 μM have significantly inhibited (P < 0.05) f-MLP-stimulated oxidative burst in PMN. In addition, production of inflammatory mediators (NO and PGE2) has been inhibited significantly (P < 0.05) and dose-dependently.
6-Shogaol has exhibited the most potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which can be attributed to the presence of α,β-unsaturated ketone moiety. The carbon chain length has also played a significant role in making 10-gingerol as the most potent among all the gingerols. This study justifies the use of dry ginger in traditional systems of medicine.

Conclusion: The study reports the antiproliferative and apoptosis-mediated cytotoxic effects of green tea and ginger polyphenolic extracts on human H460 cell line, indicating their promising chemopreventive effect against lung cancer.


Ginger certainly does look to be good for you, but it has to be uncooked, otherwise you lose those gingerols.

I expect in ten years’ time we will know whether RAS signaling does underlie the autism of a wider group of people than those with currently identified RASopathies.

If you are impatient to know the answer you have a few choices:-

·        Statins

·        Gingerols

·        Other farnesyltransferase inhibitors (FTIs), a class of experimental cancer drugs that target protein farnesyltransferase with the downstream effect of preventing the proper functioning of the Ras (protein), which is commonly abnormally active in cancer.


  1. hi Peter I am one of your follower, may I know what is the Polypill that Monty take during the day? and also can u give me a time to when should those polypill be taken. Please include all that he has.. Thank you

  2. Hello Peter,

    I was sitting here bored with nothing to do,and was fiddling about with your label cloud.Of course I looked at cancer,given my WES results.This post was published before I had gotten said results.I still have not found a doctor since I had my WES.I am probably looking at either Johns Hopkins or Cleveland Clinic.

    I am in such a unique position,as far as having an unknown type of such a rare disease,I have to figure a lot of things out myself,and connect a lot of the dots.This post of yours here may have led me to a big piece of the puzzle,in my case,in figuring out a possible link to MRE11(a),and CFD/autism.My case may be a unique or unknown type of RASopathy.

    For MRE11(a) we would be looking at a different genetic pathway,that may produce the same results as far as creating a RASopathy.It seems Akt downregulates Mre11 to exacerbate RAS-induced DNA damage.PI3K and PTEN play a part here too.

    1. Hi Roger, statins activate RAS and increase PTEN. Maybe worth a try?


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