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 New image of a cancer-related enzyme in action helps explain gene regulation
05.06.2020 | Penn State

nachricht Protecting the Neuronal Architecture
05.06.2020 | Universität Heidelberg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Restoring vision by gene therapy

Latest scientific findings give hope for people with incurable retinal degeneration

Humans rely dominantly on their eyesight. Losing vision means not being able to read, recognize faces or find objects. Macular degeneration is one of the major...

Im Focus: Small Protein, Big Impact

In meningococci, the RNA-binding protein ProQ plays a major role. Together with RNA molecules, it regulates processes that are important for pathogenic properties of the bacteria.

Meningococci are bacteria that can cause life-threatening meningitis and sepsis. These pathogens use a small protein with a large impact: The RNA-binding...

Im Focus: K-State study reveals asymmetry in spin directions of galaxies

Research also suggests the early universe could have been spinning

An analysis of more than 200,000 spiral galaxies has revealed unexpected links between spin directions of galaxies, and the structure formed by these links...

Im Focus: New measurement exacerbates old problem

Two prominent X-ray emission lines of highly charged iron have puzzled astrophysicists for decades: their measured and calculated brightness ratios always disagree. This hinders good determinations of plasma temperatures and densities. New, careful high-precision measurements, together with top-level calculations now exclude all hitherto proposed explanations for this discrepancy, and thus deepen the problem.

Hot astrophysical plasmas fill the intergalactic space, and brightly shine in stellar coronae, active galactic nuclei, and supernova remnants. They contain...

Im Focus: Biotechnology: Triggered by light, a novel way to switch on an enzyme

In living cells, enzymes drive biochemical metabolic processes enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very ability which allows them to be used as catalysts in biotechnology, for example to create chemical products such as pharmaceutics. Researchers now identified an enzyme that, when illuminated with blue light, becomes catalytically active and initiates a reaction that was previously unknown in enzymatics. The study was published in "Nature Communications".

Enzymes: they are the central drivers for biochemical metabolic processes in every living cell, enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK'21 will take place on June 10 and 11, 2021

07.04.2020 | Event News

International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen Postponed by a Year

06.04.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

New image of a cancer-related enzyme in action helps explain gene regulation

05.06.2020 | Life Sciences

Silicon 'neurons' may add a new dimension to computer processors

05.06.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Protecting the Neuronal Architecture

05.06.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>