In mice, antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables stops memory loss that accompanies Alzheimer's disease, reveals research.
Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered in experiments on mice which normally develop Alzheimer's symptoms less than a year after birth, that a daily dose of the compound----a flavonol called fisetin----prevented the progressive memory and learning impairments.
The drug, however, did not alter the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain, accumulations of proteins which are commonly blamed for Alzheimer's disease.
The new finding suggests a way to treat Alzheimer's symptoms independently of targeting amyloid plaques.
"We had already shown that in normal animals, fisetin can improve memory," Pamela Maher, a senior staff scientist in Salk's Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory who led the new study, said.
"What we showed here is that it also can have an effect on animals prone to Alzheimer's," she said.
More than a decade ago, Maher discovered that fisetin helps protect neurons in the brain from the effects of aging. She and her colleagues have since----in both isolated cell cultures and mouse studies----probed how the compound has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on cells in the brain. Most recently, they found that fisetin turns on a cellular pathway known to be involved in memory.
"What we realized is that fisetin has a number of properties that we thought might be beneficial when it comes to Alzheimer's," Maher said.
The research is published in the journal Aging Cell.