Plant Molecules May Contain Alzheimer's Key

Researchers at the University of South Florida and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center have found that two molecules - luteolin and diosmin - found in some plants may have a beneficial effect in brain tissue linked with Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers, led by Terrence Town, Ph.D., a research scientist with the departments of Neurosurgery and Biomedical Sciences at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, indicated that luteolin and diosmin reduced levels of amloid-beta, which forms the sticky deposits that build up in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease.

In the study, molecules called flavonoids, which are found in certain fruits and vegetables, were administered to a mouse model genetically programmed to develop Alzheimer's disease.

When the researchers used two of these molecules, luteolin and diosmin, they could successfully reduce the levels of a protein called amyloid-beta, which forms the sticky deposits that build up in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's.

They said that these molecules work by targeting a protein called presenilin-1, which has long been linked to Alzheimer's as a genetic cause of this devastating and untreatable illness.

The findings of the study may have future implications in developing a new approach to therapy for patients suffering from this neurodegenerative illness, which is the most common cause of dementia and is estimated to affect more than five million people in the United States.

"These flavonoids are widely available in natural foods and it appears that they may be used in purified form as therapeutic agents. The compounds have few if any side effects and are naturally occurring in citrus fruits. They also can be found as dietary supplements in health food stores," said Town.

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