Researchers Reports That Natural Chemicals Can Interrupt Alzheimer’s Progression
The newest study published by a research team from the University of Leeds, reveals the fact that the natural chemicals that are found in both red wine and green tea, could be able to interrupt the progression pathway of Alzheimer’s disease. The results of their study were published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. The earliest laboratory tests conducted by the research team have identified the pathway through which proteins form clusters inside the brain cells, thus leading to their apoptosis.
Researchers were able to block this specific pathway through the use of purified extracts of EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate) - extracted from green tea, and resveratrol, a natural chemical found in the skin of red grapes and wine. Their findings could relate to the development of a new drug against Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease affects almost 1 million people in the UK and approximately 27 million people worldwide. Lead author of the study, professor Nigel Hooper, says that the study further increases the knowledge and understanding of what causes the onset and progression of the disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is caused by an accumulation of amyloid protein in different regions of the brain. The accumulation of amyloid is toxic to the brain tissue, thus high amounts of clustered-up amyloid can cause the degeneration of brain tissue. Amyloid clusters fuse with the prions (small proteins) found on the surface of the cell membrane and eventually cause cellular death. “We wanted to investigate whether the precise shape of the amyloid balls is essential for them to attach to the prion receptors, like the way a baseball fits snugly into its glove”, said the co-author of the study, Dr Jo Rushworth.
The main target of the study was to investigate whether these clusters of amyloid can be prevented through the alteration of their shape. In order to complete their investigation, the research team created artificial amyloid clusters in a test tube and then added them to brain cells taken from both laboratory animals and humans. The research team used data taken from recent studies, which shows that both EGCG and resveratrol are responsible for altering the shape of amyloid proteins. The results of the study shows that after the two chemicals were added, the amyloid clusters provoked no damage to the brain cells.
Researchers report that nervous cells were protected from the amyloid clusters because the newly developed shape didn’t permit them to bind to the prions on the cellular membrane. Professor Hooper notes that when the amyloid clusters bind to prions, they trigger the production of more amyloid. Further research will be conducted in order to completely understand the effect of amyloid-prion interactions on nervous cells.