Plants Protect the Brain: pomegranate, reseveratrol and blueberry
January 10, 2006
Recent research suggests certain plant extracts can either slow or reverse
brain disease. Many of these extracts are purple.
human brain considers the number three an important number is perception
of cause and event. If something happens once it is seen as a random event.
If it happens again, it's a coincidence. But if the same seeming cause
and event is witnessed three times, the brain makes a generalization and
considers the observation truth. Despite the best attempts of those well
intentioned professors of statistics who taught me to think otherwise,
my brain still follows this simple rule of three.
thoughts are inspired by a number of recently published articles on plant
extracts that protect the brain from damage, deterioration and possibly
development of Alzheimer's disease. These plant extracts have something
in common. They are all purple. They probably all contain high levels
of polyphenol antioxidants like anthrocyanins, but we we're skipping the
fancy chemistry today and making generalizations. They all are purple.
June 2005 an article was published suggesting that pomegranate juice could
protect newborn infants from brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation.
[i] More recently Hartman and his
colleagues at Loma Linda University published research suggesting pomegranate
juice can prevent Alzheimer's disease.
worked with mice that were genetically predisposed to develop Alzheimer's,
including buildups in the brain of a protein called beta-amyloid. The
researchers separated the animals into two groups. Starting at 6 months
of age, which is young adulthood in mice, one group had pomegranate-juice
concentrate added to its drinking water in amounts that approximated a
glass or two of the juice per day for a person. The second group received
water without the concentrate but with as much sugar as the juice mix
the mice aged, those drinking pomegranate juices did better in mazes and
other tests of learning than did animals that drank the sugar water. When
the researchers examined the animals' brains, the pomegranate-juice group
had only about 50 percent as many beta-amyloid deposits, or plaques, as
the sugar-water group had. [ii]
epidemiological studies have suggested that red wine consumption lowers
risk of Alzheimer's. In 2003 a study linked this protective effect with
resveratrol. Past newsletters on resveratrol have focused on how it stimulates
apoptosis in cancer cells and may stimulate a ‘longevity factor.'
November, 2005 another article was published on resveratrol and its effect
on Alzheimer's. Resveratrol causes the break down of the beta-amyloid
deposits or plaques that cause the disease. [iii]
This is very exciting. Other antioxidants have been reported to prevent
plaque formation but to reverse the disease process, if true, is a big
on my list of purples are blueberries. A number of studies have been published
over the last few years suggesting that blueberries were both protective
and able to reverse some of the brain changes associated with cognitive
decline. The newest study done in rats continues to confirm the earlier
studies. [iv] Short term feeding
with blueberries was shown to restore production of a specific brain protein
which is used to respond to chemical stressors to that of a younger animal.
color purple had great symbolism in ancient Rome . It was reserved for
members of the ruling class. Members of the Roman Senate were permitted
a ribbon of purple on their togas; only the emperor was allowed to wear
a robe made entirely of purple. In the light of my new assumption that
purple protects the brain, this symbolism takes on new meaning.
are certainly other substances suggested for maintaining brain health
that are not purple. Coenzyme Q-10, for example, is bright yellow. There
are other exceptions to this generalization. There are probably other
purple substances that have no benefit in protecting the brain. It's too
late for me though, I've seen my three and my mind is made up.
protects the brain. Period.
Maternal dietary supplementation with pomegranate juice is neuroprotective
in an animal model of neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury.
DJ , Seeram
NP , Schulman
RN , Holtzman
Division of Neonatology, University of Washington , Seattle , WA 98195
, USA .
Neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury remains a significant cause of
morbidity and mortality and lacks effective therapies for prevention and
treatment. Recently, interest in the biology of polyphenol compounds has
led to the discovery that dietary supplementation with foods rich in polyphenols
(e.g. blueberries, green tea extract) provides neuroprotection in adult
animal models of ischemia and Alzheimer's disease. We sought to determine
whether protection of the neonatal brain against a hypoxic-ischemic insult
could be attained through supplementation of the maternal diet with pomegranate
juice, notable for its high polyphenol content. Mouse dams were provided
ad libitum access to drinking water with pomegranate juice, at one of
three doses, as well as plain water, sugar water, and vitamin C water
controls during the last third of pregnancy and throughout the duration
of litter suckling. At postnatal day 7, pups underwent unilateral carotid
ligation followed by exposure to 8% oxygen for 45 min. Brain injury was
assessed histologically after 1 wk (percentage of tissue area loss) and
biochemically after 24 h (caspase-3 activity). Dietary supplementation
with pomegranate juice resulted in markedly decreased brain tissue loss
(>60%) in all three brain regions assessed, with the highest pomegranate
juice dose having greatest significance (p < or = 0.0001). Pomegranate
juice also diminished caspase-3 activation by 84% in the hippocampus and
64% in the cortex. Ellagic acid, a polyphenolic component in pomegranate
juice, was detected in plasma from treated but not control pups. These
results demonstrate that maternal dietary supplementation with pomegranate
juice is neuroprotective for the neonatal brain.
PMID: 15774834 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Hartman, R.E., et al . 2005. Pomegranate juice decreases
amyloid load and improves behavior in an APP transgenic mouse model
with Alzheimer's disease-like pathology. Society for Neuroscience 35th
Annual Meeting. Nov. 12-16. Washington , D.C.
JUICE DECREASES AMYLOID LOAD AND IMPROVES BEHAVIOR IN AN APP TRANSGENIC
MOUSE MODEL WITH ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE-LIKE PATHOLOGY
R.N.Schulman4; A.S.Shah1; M.Parsadanian1; D.M.Holtzman1,2
disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia and affects more than
10% of individuals over the age of 65. There are currently no proven
ways to delay the onset or slow the progression of AD. Epidemiological
data suggest that diet can affect risk for AD. It has been found that
food rich in polyphenols (e.g. blueberries, pomegranates, green tea)
can be neuroprotective in animal models of hypoxic-ischemic brain injury
and that some natural food products (e.g. curcumin) can decrease amyloid-
(A) deposition. Pomegranate juice (PJ) has been shown to contain a very
high concentration of polyphenols. We asked whether dietary supplementation
of PJ influenced AD-like pathology and behavior in a mouse model of
AD. Transgenic mice expressing a form of the amyloid precursor protein
(APP) that causes a form of early-onset familial AD (Tg2576 or APPsw)
received PJ or a sugar water control from 6 to 12.5 months of age. Mice
treated with PJ had ~50% less A deposition in the hippocampus than control-treated
mice. In addition, when tested behaviorally in the water maze, PJ-treated
mice swam faster and exhibited better spatial learning performance than
controls. Assessment of other biochemical markers of neuropathology
is underway. These results, showing beneficial effects of PJ in an animal
model of AD, suggest that further studies to validate and determine
the mechanism of these effects as well as whether PJ can protect against
AD in humans may be warranted.
Resveratrol promotes clearance of Alzheimer's disease amyloid-beta
P , Zhao
H , Davies
Litwin-Zucker Research Center for the Study of Alzheimer's Disease and
Memory Disorders, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Institute for Medical
Research, Manhasset, NY 11030, USA.
Several epidemiological studies indicate that moderate consumption of
wine is associated with a lower incidence of Alzheimer's disease. Wine
is enriched in antioxidant compounds with potential neuroprotective activities.
However, the exact molecular mechanisms involved in the beneficial effects
of wine intake on the neurodegenerative process in Alzheimer's disease
brain remain to be clearly defined. Here we show that resveratrol (trans-3,4',5-trihydroxystilbene),
a naturally occurring polyphenol mainly found in grapes and red wine,
markedly lowers the levels of secreted and intracellular amyloid-beta
(Abeta) peptides produced from different cell lines. Resveratrol does
not inhibit Abeta production, because it has no effect on the Abeta-producing
enzymes beta- and gamma-secretases, but promotes instead intracellular
degradation of Abeta via a mechanism that involves the proteasome. Indeed,
the resveratrol-induced decrease of Abeta could be prevented by several
selective proteasome inhibitors and by siRNA-directed silencing of the
proteasome subunit beta5. These findings demonstrate a proteasome-dependent
anti-amyloidogenic activity of resveratrol and suggest that this natural
compound has a therapeutic potential in Alzheimer's disease.
PMID: 16162502 [PubMed - in process]
Blueberry supplemented diet reverses age-related decline in hippocampal
RL , Bielinski
DF , Szprengiel
A , Shukitt-Hale
B , Joseph
Neuroscience Laboratory, USDA-ARS Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging
at Tufts University, 711 Washington St., Boston, MA 02111, USA; Department
of Psychology, Simmons College, 300 The Fenway, Boston, MA 02115-5898,
Dietary supplementation with antioxidant rich foods can decrease the level
of oxidative stress in brain regions and can ameliorate age-related deficits
in neuronal and behavioral functions. We examined whether short-term supplementation
with blueberries might enhance the brain's ability to generate a heat
shock protein 70 (HSP70) mediated neuroprotective response to stress.
Hippocampal (HC) regions from young and old rats fed either a control
or a supplemented diet for 10 weeks were subjected to an in vitro inflammatory
challenge (LPS) and then examined for levels of HSP70 at various times
post LPS (30, 90 and 240min). While baseline levels of HSP70 did not differ
among the various groups compared to young control diet rats, increases
in HSP70 protein levels in response to an in vitro LPS challenge were
significantly less in old as compared to young control diet rats at the
30, 90 and 240min time points. However, it appeared that the blueberry
diet completely restored the HSP70 response to LPS in the old rats at
the 90 and 240min times. This suggests that a short-term blueberry (BB)
intervention may result in improved HSP70-mediated protection against
a number of neurodegenerative processes in the brain. Results are discussed
in terms of the multiplicity of the effects of the BB supplementation
which appear to range from antioxidant/anti-inflammatory activity to signaling.
PMID: 15869824 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
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