Chemicals found naturally in green tea and red wine may disrupt the development of Alzheimer’s, according to new research from University of Leeds.
Researchers identified the process in which clumps of protein latch on to brain cells, causing their death. They were able to interrupt this process using extracts of EGCG from green tea and resveratrol from red wine.
Lead researcher Professor Nigel Hooper of the University’s Faculty of Biological Sciences explained:
This is an important step in increasing our understanding of the cause and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a misconception that Alzheimer’s is a natural part of aging; it’s a disease that we believe can ultimately be cured through finding new opportunities for drug targets like this.
Alzheimer’s caused by buildup of amyloid proteins in the brain
These clumps, or balls, latch on to the surface of a neuron by adhering to an area on the cell surface called the prion.
“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 co-author Dr. Jo Rushworth. “And if so, we wanted to see if we could prevent the amyloid balls binding to prion by altering their shape, as this would stop the cells from dying.”
They created amyloid balls in the lab and exposed them to brain cells.
Red wine and green tea re-shape amyloid proteins
“When we added extracts from red wine and green tea, which recent research has shown to re-shape amyloid proteins, the amyloid balls no longer harmed the nerve cells,” Hooper explained. “We also showed, for the first time, that when amyloid balls stick to prion, it triggers the production of even more amyloid, and a deadly vicious cycle.”
While it might be a bit early to stock up on red wine and green tea, this could provide an excellent lead in new pharmaceutical treatments.
Source: University of Leeds, MedicalNewsToday
Photo by John Nyboer