Plants’ Flavonoids Have Beneficial Effect On Alzheimer’s Disease, Study In Mice Suggests

A set of molecules found in certain plants appears to have a beneficial effect in brain tissue associated with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study conducted in mice. Luteolin and diosmin reduced levels of amloid-beta, which forms the sticky deposits that build up in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers administered molecules called flavonoids, which are found in certain fruits and vegetables, to a mouse model genetically programmed to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Using two of these molecules, luteolin and diosmin, they were able to reduce the levels of a protein called amyloid-beta, which forms the sticky deposits that build up in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s. The researchers also determined that these molecules work by targeting a protein called presenilin-1, which has long been linked to Alzheimer’s as a genetic cause of this devastating and untreatable illness.

The results may offer a new approach to therapy for patients suffering from this neurodegenerative illness, which is the most common cause of dementia and is estimated to affect more than five million people in the United States.

The study was led by researchers at the University of South Florida and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Terrence Town, Ph.D., one of the lead authors, is a research scientist with the departments of Neurosurgery and Biomedical Sciences at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and with the hospital’s neurosurgical research center, the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute.”These flavonoids are widely available in natural foods and it appears that they may be used in purified form as therapeutic agents. The compounds have few if any side effects and are naturally occurring in citrus fruits. They also can be found as dietary supplements in health food stores,” Town said.

Jun Tan, M.D., Ph.D., with the University of South Florida Department of Psychiatry, headed the study. Other authors are: Kavon Rezai-Zadeh (first author), R. Douglas Shytle, Ph.D., Yun Bai, M.D., Ph.D., Jun Tian, M.D., Ph.D., Huayan Hou, M.D., Ph.D., Takashi Mori, D.V.M., Ph.D., Jin Zeng, M.D., and Demian Obregon.

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