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Getting a Boost
CHORI Junior Scientist Wins CTSI Award for Hydration Study
CHORI clinical scientist Jodi Stookey, PhD, has garnered a Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Junior Investigator Award to complete an ongoing study investigating possible biomarkers of cell hydration. Currently, researchers have no way of knowing how hydrated a person’s cells are from day to day; identifying a cell hydration biomarker – something that can easily be measured as an indicator of usual hydration – would allow researchers like Dr. Stookey to begin to determine how usual hydration impacts overall health.

"There is a lot of data from studies at the cell level indicating powerful metabolic effects of cell hydration, but we don't know if or how the effects apply to whole people" says Dr. Stookey. "You can't just take people off the street and test them right then and there to know what their cell's hydration has been like all week. But this study we're doing will hopefully make it possible to do just that."

“You can't just take people off the street and test them right then and there to know what their cell's hydration has been like all week. But this study we're doing will hopefully make it possible to do just that.”


Dr. Stookey is conducing her study through CHORI's Pediatric Clinical Research Center, which is an affiliate site of the CTSI at University of California, San Francisco. The CTSI is part of the NIH's national clinical & translational science consortium. The consortium has a charter to transform clinical and translational research to ensure that the best health solutions get to patients as quickly as possible. As a young investigator at CHORI, Dr. Stookey was eligible to compete for the Junior Investigator Award, which will go toward lab fees to complete the essential analyses of Dr. Stookey's study.

"The CTSI award is a big help, because it allowed us to explore a wider array of possible biomarkers " says Dr. Stookey. "This project will provide the preliminary data we need to move forward with cell hydration studies."

Currently there is no standard Dietary Reference Intake for water, like there is for various vitamins, minerals or food groups. The decision not to set a DRI for water was determined using blood concentrations as a biomarker of hydration. However, in healthy individuals, blood concentrations adjust regardless of whether those individuals consume two or six liters of water.

"What we don't have is a measure of how the body adjusts to keep the blood concentration the same, regardless of water intake," says Dr. Stookey. "Is there a cost to an individual's cells as a result of making that adjustment?"
“We need to identify what the differences in individuals drinking different amounts of water actually are, and then determine if those differences are associated with any decreases in health later.”
The only way to achieve that kind of study, however, is to be able to identify individuals who are regularly hydrated from individuals who aren't. Researchers actually have been looking for hydration markers for decades, but have primarily focused on the same issue – concentrations outside the cell.

"Our study looks at the individual adaptations of the cells themselves in response to varying levels of water intake," says Dr. Stookey.

"If we're able to identify an effective marker, we can take the studies to the next step and find out if people with better cell hydration over time are less likely to develop chronic diseases. The evidence from in-vitro studies suggests that cell hydration could be an important risk factor for chronic disease, so this would be a start toward translating what we know about cell hydration to whole people."

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011 8:19 AM

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