Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Maple syrup protects neurons and nurtures young minds

13.04.2016

Two young students show how maple syrup prevents the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in the C. elegans worm

Catherine Aaron and Gabrielle Beaudry were 17 when they knocked on the door of the laboratory of Alex Parker, a neuroscience researcher at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM).


Maple syrup prevents the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in the C. elegans worm.

Credit: Alex Parker laboratory, CRCHUM

While students at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf in Montreal, they were looking for a mentor for an after-school research project. Two and half years later, the results of this scientific adventure were published today in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

"We wanted to test the effect of a natural product on a neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer's. Professor Parker had already discovered that sugar prevents the occurrence of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in an animal model of the disease, the C. elegans worm. That's how we got the idea of maple syrup, a natural sugar produced in Quebec," said Beaudry.

Supervised by PhD student Martine Therrien and Alex Parker, Aaron and Beaudry added maple syrup to the diet of these barely 1 mm-long nematodes. "We just gave them a supplement of maple syrup at various concentrations and compared with a control group that had a normal diet," said Aaron. "After twelve days, we counted under the microscope the worms that were moving and those that were paralyzed. The worms that had consumed the highest dose of syrup were much less likely to be paralyzed."

Alex Parker's C. elegans worms are genetically modified to express a protein involved in ALS in motor neurons - TDP-43. "When they are adults, around 12 days, their motor neurons break down. Normally, at two weeks of life, 50% of the worms are completely paralyzed.

But among those that received a diet enriched with 4% maple syrup, only 17% were paralyzed. We can therefore conclude that maple syrup protects neurons and prevents the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in C. elegans worms," said Parker, a researcher at the CRCHUM and professor at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal.

How can we explain this dramatic effect? "Sugar is good for the nervous system. Diseased neurons require more energy to combat toxic proteins. But maple syrup is rich in polyphenols, powerful antioxidants found in certain foods.

We isolated phenols contained in the maple syrup, and we showed that two polyphenols in particular, gallic acid and catechol, have a neuroprotective effect. In pure maple syrup, these polyphenols are found in low concentrations. Probably a combination of sugar and polyphenols prevents the occurrence of the disease in worms," said Therrien, a PhD student at the CRCHUM.

But don't go ahead and gorge yourself on maple syrup thinking it'll protect you against neurological diseases! "The life expectancy of C. elegans worms is only three weeks. They are spared the long-term toxic effects of sugar. Humans who consume comparable amounts of sugar risk developing chronic diseases such Type 2 diabetes and obesity," cautioned Parker.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a rare neuromuscular disease that causes paralysis and death a few years after the onset of symptoms. So far, no cure is available for patients. This latest study on maple syrup and the C. elegans worm was conducted for educational purposes. Other studies by Alex Parker with C. elegans have led to the discovery of promising drugs, which will be tested in patients in a few years.

Catherine Aaron and Gabrielle Beaudry won the Sanofi Biogenius Canada People's Choice Award - Quebec section - for this project in April 2014. Aaron is now a first-year medical student at the University of Montreal, and Beaudry studies psychology at the University of Sherbrooke.

###

Inteviews:

Catherine Aaron, Gabrielle Beaudry, and Alex Parker are available for interviews by appointment from 1-3 pm on April 13, 2016.

About the study

The study "Maple syrup decreases TDP-43 proteotoxicity in a C. elegans model of ALS" was published online in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry on April 13, 2016 Catherine Aaron and Gabrielle Beaudry are undergraduate students, Alex J. Parker is a researcher at the CRCHUM and professor at the University of Montreal, and Martine Therrien recently completed a PhD at the CRCHUM and the University of Montreal. The study did not receive specific funding. Alex J. Parker is funded by the Fondation du CHUM, ALS Canada, the Canadian Health Research Institutes, le Fonds de recherche du Québec - Santé, and the American Muscular Dystrophy Association.

About the CRCHUM

The University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) is one of the largest hospital-based research centres in North America. Our mission is to improve the health of adults through a continuum of research from basic science, to population health, to clinical research. More than 1,950 people work at the CRCHUM, including 439 researchers and 700 students and research trainees: http://crchum.chumontreal.qc.ca/en

About the University of Montreal

Deeply rooted in Montreal and dedicated to its international mission, the University of Montreal is one of the top universities in the French-speaking world. Founded in 1878, the University of Montreal today has 16 faculties and schools, and together with its two affiliated schools, HEC Montreal and Polytechnique Montreal, constitutes the largest centre of higher education and research in Quebec and one of the major centres in North America. It brings together 2,500 professors and researchers and welcomes more than 60,000 students. http://www.umontreal.ca/english/

Source: University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM)

Informations:

Isabelle Girard
Information Advisor, CRCHUM
514-890-8000 #12725
Isabelle.girard.chum@ssss.gouv.qc.ca | @CRCHUM
514-890-8000 #12725

Isabelle Girard | EurekAlert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Not of Divided Mind
19.01.2017 | Hertie-Institut für klinische Hirnforschung (HIH)

nachricht CRISPR meets single-cell sequencing in new screening method
19.01.2017 | CeMM Forschungszentrum für Molekulare Medizin der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland

19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Not of Divided Mind

19.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecule flash mob

19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>