Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Compound in apples may help fight Alzheimer’s disease


A potent antioxidant abundant in apples and some other fruits and vegetables appears to protect brain cells against oxidative stress, a tissue-damaging process associated with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders, according to a new study in rat brain cells conducted by researchers at Cornell University in New York.

The study adds strength to the theory — bolstered by recent animal studies — that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and similar diseases may be reduced by dietary intervention, particularly by increasing one’s intake of antioxidant-rich foods. It is scheduled to appear in the Dec. 1 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society. “On the basis of serving size, fresh apples have some of the highest levels of [the antioxidant] quercetin when compared to other fruits and vegetables and may be among the best food choices for fighting Alzheimer’s,” says study leader C.Y. Lee, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Food Science & Technology at Cornell University in Geneva, N.Y.

“People should eat more apples, especially fresh ones,” Lee says. He cautions that protection against Alzheimer’s using any food product is currently theoretical and adds that genetics and environment are also believed to play a role in the disease. Despite these caveats, the researcher predicts that “eating at least one fresh apple a day might help.” But Lee also points out that results so far are limited to cell studies and that more advanced research, particularly in animals, is still needed to confirm the findings. Previously Lee and his associates have shown that apples may help protect against cancer too.

For the current study, the researchers exposed groups of isolated rat brain cells to varying concentrations of either quercetin or vitamin C. The cells were then exposed to hydrogen peroxide to simulate the type of oxidative cell damage that is believed to occur with Alzheimer’s. These results were then compared to brain cells that were similarly exposed to hydrogen peroxide but were not pre-treated with antioxidants. Brain cells that were treated with quercetin had significantly less damage to both cellular proteins and DNA than the cells treated with vitamin C and the cells that were not exposed to antioxidants. This demonstrates quercetin’s stronger protective effect against neurotoxicity, according to the researchers.

Scientists are not sure of quercetin’s mechanism of action, but some suspect it might work by blocking the action of highly-active chemicals called free radicals, an excess of which are thought to damage brain cells as well as other cell types over time. Further studies are needed, they say. Even though quercetin is relatively stable during cooking, fresh apples are better sources of quercetin than cooked or processed apple products because the compound is mainly concentrated in the skin of apples rather than the flesh, Lee says. Products such as apple juice and apple sauce do not contain significant amounts of skin. In general, red apples tend to have more of the antioxidant than green or yellow ones, although any apple variety is a good source of quercetin, he adds.

For those who don’t like apples or may have difficulty eating the whole fruit, there are some promising alternatives, Lee suggests. Other foods containing high levels of quercetin include onions, which have some of the highest levels of quercetin among vegetables, as well as berries, particularly blueberries and cranberries. Like other antioxidants, quercetin has been associated with an increasing number of potential health benefits, including protection against cancer.

Alzheimer’s is a chronic form of dementia that primarily strikes the elderly and causes severe memory loss and, eventually, death. The disease is characterized by the overproduction of a protein, beta-amyloid, that accumulates in the brain of its victims. Although normal brains contain beta-amyloid, those with the disease have comparatively large amounts. The protein is thought to produce free radicals (oxidants) that appear to cause cumulative damage to brain cells, according to some researchers. Although there’s no cure for the disease and no one is sure of its exact causes, some researchers are increasingly optimistic that dietary intervention using antioxidant-rich foods might help reduce the risk of developing the disease. Other foods rich in antioxidants include blueberries, red wine, red grapes and dark chocolate.

Alzheimer’s affects an estimated 4.5 million people in the United States, according to the National Institute on Aging. That figure is expected to rise dramatically as the population ages, experts predict.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Apple Association, New York State Apple Research and Development Program, and Korea Science and Engineering Foundation provided funding for this study.

Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'
16.03.2018 | Emory Health Sciences

nachricht Scientists map the portal to the cell's nucleus
16.03.2018 | Rockefeller University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>