A compound found in green tea hold the promise of combating the degenerative effects of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, a new study says.
Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) have identified compounds capable of reversing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in mice. These components were found mostly in green tea and carrots.
The team believes incorporating the aromatic beverage and the root vegetable into diets can help protect people from these degenerative illnesses.
For those suffering from Alzheimer’s, a regular intake of the compounds in addition to their therapy provides a healthy option for treating the disease.
“You don’t have to wait 10 to 12 years for a designer drug to make it to market; you can make these dietary changes today,” said Terrence Town, a professor at USC’s Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute and senior author of the study. “I find that very encouraging.”
Town and his colleagues focused their efforts on two compounds: epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and ferulic acid (FA). EGCG is found mostly in green tea, while FA is found in carrots.
They then selected 32 mice that were bred to manifest symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and then separated the animas into four groups. One group was given a diet rich in EGCG, one group was given a diet of FA, one group was given a combination of EGCG and FA, and another was given a placebo.
After three months of this diet, the mice underwent neuropsychological testing to check for signs of dementia.
The researchers found that the combination treatment of EGCG and FA helped restore working memory in the Alzheimer mice. They saw that these animals performed just as well as healthy mice.
The team believes the reversal of Alzheimer effects came from the ability of EGCG and FA to keep amyloid precursor proteins from turning into smaller proteins known as amyloid beta. Studies have shown that amyloid beta is what prevents the brain of Alzheimer patients from functioning properly.
The EGCG and FA treatment also helped reduce oxidative stress and neuroinflammation in the Alzheimer mice. These two conditions can be found in the brain of humans suffering from the disease.
Earlier this year, scientists discovered a pathogen linked with gum disease can potentially cause Alzheimer’s to develop. Alzheimer’s sufferers were found to have traces of the bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis in their brain.
A new study also suggests that Alzheimer’s disease can also be detected early in people through a simple blood test.
By identifying the presence of the protein neurofilament in the blood of patients, researchers said they can determine whether the individual will develop the degenerative disease.
However, they clarified that it is not absolute concentration of neurofilament that is important, but rather the temporal evolution of the protein that can help them determine the future progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
The team said the key lies in the changes in neurofilament concentration in patients’ blood that accurately reflects brain cell degradation.
Earlier research showed that older people who still maintain an active lifestyle were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s compared to those who were less active. Those who had higher levels of daily movement scored better in terms of their thinking and memory skills during cognitive tests.
The USC study is featured in the latest edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.