Strawberry, Cucumber Nutrient May Prevent Alzheimers Memory Loss


2014-01-28 09:17

Yet another good reason to eat your fruits and vegetables! A nutrient found in produce, especially strawberries and cucumbers, may help to prevent memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease patients.

Researchers with the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have been evaluating the effect of a particular flavonoid, known as fistein, and its role in helping to prevent progressive memory and learning impairments in Alzheimer’s patients. A team, led by Pamela Maher PhD, added fistein to the diets of laboratory mice that had mutations in two genes linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Mice that had gotten a daily dose of the compound, beginning early in their lives, performed better in tests of memory and learning skills than those with the genetic mutations who had not received the nutrient. The team found that fistein had several properties making it beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients.

Fistein, a type of nutrient found in many fruits and vegetables, operates within a specific neural pathway to help boost memory and cognition. Fistein in particular was found to trigger the activation of memory formation processes within the brain and enabled better memory storage by forming strong connections between neurons. The compound also may help prevent inflammation which can lead to nerve damage.

Unfortunately, however, the nutrient did not alter the formation of amyloid plaques within the brain (accumulations of proteins commonly blamed for Alzheimer’s disease.)

"The model that we used here was a preventive model," says Maher. "We started the mice on the drugs before they had any memory loss. But obviously human patients don't go to the doctor until they are already having memory problems." So the next step in moving the discovery toward the clinic, she says, is to test whether fisetin can reverse declines in memory once they have already appeared.

In addition to strawberries and cucumbers, fistein can also be found in tomatoes, onions, apples, oranges, grapes, peaches, persimmons and kiwifruit.

Journal Reference:
Antonio Currais, Marguerite Prior, Richard Dargusch, Aaron Armando, Jennifer Ehren, David Schubert, Oswald Quehenberger, Pamela Maher. Modulation of p25 and inflammatory pathways by fisetin maintains cognitive function in Alzheimer's disease transgenic mice. Aging Cell, 2013; DOI:10.1111/acel.12185

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