Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


An apple a day could help protect against brain-cell damage that triggers Alzheimer’s, Parkinsonism


A group of chemicals in apples could protect the brain from the type of damage that triggers such neurodegenerative diseases as Alzheimer’s and Parkinsonism, according to two new studies from Cornell University food scientists.

The studies show that the chemical quercetin, a so-called phytonutrient, appears to be largely responsible for protecting rat brain cells when assaulted by oxidative stress in laboratory tests.

Phytonutrients, such as phenolic acids and flavanoids, protect the apple against bacteria, viruses and fungi and provide the fruit’s anti-oxidant and anti-cancer benefits. Quercetin is a major flavanoid in apples. Antioxidants help prevent cancer by mopping up cell-damaging free radicals and inhibiting the production of reactive substances that could damage normal cells. "The studies show that additional apple consumption not only may help reduce the risk of cancer, as previous studies have shown, but also that an apple a day may supply major bioactive compounds, which may play an important role in reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders," says Chang Y. "Cy" Lee, Cornell professor of food science at the university’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y.

In a study that recently appeared online and is to be published in the November/December 2004 issue of theJournal of Food Science (69(9): S357-60), Lee and his co-authors compared how two groups of rat neuronal cells fared against hydrogen peroxide, a common oxidative stressor. Only one of the two groups was pretreated with different concentrations of apple phenolic extracts.

The researchers found that the higher the concentration of apple phenolic extract, the greater the protection was for the nerve cells against oxidative stress. "What we found was that the apple phenolics, which are naturally occurring antioxidants found in fresh apples, can protect nerve cells from neurotoxicity induced by oxidative stress," Lee said. When Lee and co-author Ho Jin Heo, a visiting fellow at Cornell, looked at quercetin they found that it appeared to be the main agent responsible for the beneficial effect. In fact, they found quercetin works even better in protecting nerve cells against hydrogen peroxide than vitamin C, a naturally occurring antioxidant known to help prevent cell and tissue damage from oxidation. Quercetin is primarily found in apples, berries and onions.

This study, which appeared online recently, will be published in the December issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The two studies build on Lee’s 2002 findings that quercetin has stronger anti-cancer activity than vitamin C, and his 2000 findings that phytochemicals in apples have stronger anti-oxidant protective effects than vitamin C against colon and liver cancer cells.

Other studies have found that phytochemicals are associated with a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and that they fight not only cancer but also bacterial and viral infections. In addition, they are anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory.

Although Lee stresses that his studies were conducted in the laboratory, not in clinical trials with humans, he has no hesitation in recommending more apples in the diet as well as other fresh fruits and vegetables. "Indeed, I have a reason to say an apple a day keeps the doctor away," he says.

The researchers used red delicious apples grown in New York state to provide the extracts to study the effects of phytochemicals. Lee said that all apples are high in the critical phytonutrients and that the amount of phenolic compounds in the apple flesh and in the skin vary from year to year, season to season and from growing region to growing region.

The study on apple phenolics, which was co-authored by Heo and D.O. Kim, a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell, as well as S.J. Choi and D.H. Shin at Korea University, was supported in part by Heo’s postdoctoral fellowship through the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation (KSEF) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The study on quercetin, authored by Lee and Heo, also was supported, in part, by the KSEF fellowship program and U.S. Apple Association.

Susan S. Lang | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>