- Treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease is currently limited, and new medicines that alleviate the symptoms and restrict disease progression are required.
- Extracts and fractions of the stems, leaves and roots of Carpolobia lutea, inhibit the breakdown of acetylcholine which helps preserve memory.
- Carpolobia lutea contains polyphenols and flavonoids, compounds that exhibit antioxidant activities.
The extract taken from the leaves, stem and roots of Carpolobia lutea, could help to protect chemical messengers in the brain which play a vital role in functions including memory and learning.
The plant extract has been used for centuries in traditional medicine in Nigeria and could form the basis of a new drug to treat Alzheimer's disease, researchers at The University of Nottingham have found.
Their study, published in the journal Pharmaceutical Biology, has shown that the tree extract could pave the way for new drugs to tackle patient symptoms but without the unwanted side-effects associated with some current treatments.
Carpolobia lutea, known more commonly as cattle stick, is a small shrub or tree found native to Central and West Africa. Herbalists in Nigerian tribes use the essence of the root as an aphrodisiac and the treatment of genitourinary infections, gingivitis, and waist pains.
It has also been reported to possess other anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, antimicrobial, antimalarial, and analgesic properties. This could be particularly important in Alzheimer's disease as there is more evidence emerging that Alzheimer's patients have inflammation in the brain.
Neurodegenerative diseases represent a huge health burden globally, placing pressure on health services and having a negative impact on the lives of patients and their families.
Researchers and drug companies are racing to discover new treatments for these disorders and have begun looking to plant extracts as a potential source of novel drugs.
In patients with Alzheimer's disease and other diseases such as Parkinson's disease and myasthenia gravis, the activity of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, is reduced, leading to problems with memory and attention.
Current drugs - called acetylcholinesterase inhibitors - reduce the normal breakdown of acetylcholine. Extensive research is underway to find new versions of these drugs but with additional beneficial properties.
The Nottingham study found that the plant was highly effective in preventing the breakdown of acetylcholine but had other beneficial antioxidant properties in fighting free radicals - unstable atoms that can cause damage to cells and contribute to aging and disease - damage that may be exacerbated in Alzheimer's disease.
The study was led by Dr. Wayne Carter in the University's Division of Medical Sciences and Graduate Entry Medicine, based at Royal Derby Hospital. He said: "As a population we are living longer, and the number of people with dementia is growing at an alarming rate. Our findings suggest that traditional medicines will provide new chemicals able to temper Alzheimer's disease progression."
About Alzheimer's Disease
- Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life.
- Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer's live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.
- Of the estimated 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer's dementia in 2017, an estimated 5.3 million are age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals are under age 65 and have younger-onset Alzheimer's.
- One in 10 people age 65 and older (10 percent) has Alzheimer's dementia. Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer's are women.
- Alzheimer's is a progressive disease. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer's, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment.
- Since 2000, the death due to Alzheimer's disease have increased by 89% and 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia.
- Wayne Carter et al., Anti-acetylcholinesterase activity and antioxidant properties of extracts and fractions of Carpolobia lutea, Pharmaceutical Biology (2017) http:dx.doi.org/10.1080/13880209.2017.1339283.