A type of flavonoid called xanthohumol, which is found in hops and beer, aids cognitive function in young mice, says a new study.
The research at Oregon State University is another step toward understanding, and ultimately reducing the degradation of memory that happens with age in many mammalian species, including humans.
Xanthohumol, which was used successfully to lower body weight and blood sugar in a rat model of obesity, has been of particular interest because of possible value in treating metabolic syndrome, a condition associated with obesity, high blood pressure and other concerns, including age-related deficits in memory.
Researcher Daniel Zamzow said that their goal was to determine whether xanthohumol could affect a process we call palmitoylation, which is a normal biological process but in older animals may become harmful.
Zamzow added that xanthohumol can speed the metabolism, reduce fatty acids in the liver and, at least with young mice, appeared to improve their cognitive flexibility, or higher level thinking, but it did not reduce palmitoylation in older mice, or improve their learning or cognitive performance, at least in the amounts of the compound we gave them.
Co-author Kathy Magnusson said that part of what this study seems to be suggesting is that it's important to begin early in life to gain the full benefits of healthy nutrition.
Magnusson added that the levels of xanthohumol used in this study were only possible with supplements and that a human would have to drink 2000 liters of beer a day to reach the xanthohumol levels we used in this research.
The study is published in Behavioral Brain Research.