Antioxidant has potential in the Alzheimer's fight, researchers find

December 14, 2011 by Chelsea Toledo

(Medical Xpress) -- When you cut an apple and leave it out, it turns brown. Squeeze the apple with lemon juice, an antioxidant, and the process slows down.

Simply put, that same "browning" process-known as oxidative stress-happens in the brain as sets in. The underlying cause is believed to be improper processing of a protein associated with the creation of that cause oxidative stress.

Now, a study by researchers in the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy has shown that an antioxidant can delay the onset of all the indicators of Alzheimer's disease, including . The researchers administered an antioxidant compound called MitoQ to mice genetically engineered to develop Alzheimer's. The results of their study were published in the Nov. 2 issue of the .

According to the Alzheimer's Society, more than 5 million Americans currently suffer from the neurodegenerative disease. Without successful prevention, almost 14 million Americans will have Alzheimer's by 2050, accounting for of more than $1 trillion a year.

Oxidative stress is believed to cause neurons in the brain to die, resulting in Alzheimer's. Study author James Franklin, an associate professor of pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences, has studied and oxidative stress at UGA since 2004.

"The brain consumes 20 percent of the oxygen in the body even though it only makes up 5 percent of the volume, so it's particularly susceptible to oxidative stress," said Franklin, coauthor of the study along with Meagan McManus, who received her Ph.D. in neuroscience from UGA in 2010.

The UGA researchers hypothesized that antioxidants administered unsuccessfully by other researchers to treat Alzheimer's were not concentrated enough in the mitochondria of cells. Mitochondria are structures within cells that have many functions, including producing oxidative molecules that damage the brain and cause cell death.

"MitoQ selectively accumulates in the mitochondria," said McManus, who is now studying mitochondrial genetics and dysfunction as a postdoctoral researcher at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"It is more effective for the treatment to go straight to the , rather than being present in the cell in general," she said.

Although he had not previously conducted research on Alzheimer's disease, Franklin was moved to approve McManus' research proposal to take his laboratory research in a more clinical direction in part because of her family's history with the disease.

"Two of my grandparents had Alzheimer's disease, but they presented with it very differently. While my granddad often couldn't remember who we were, he was still the same soulful funnyman I'd always loved. But the disease changed my grandmother's mind in a different way, and turned her into someone we'd never known," said McManus.

"So the complexity of the disease was most intriguing to me. I wanted to know how and why it was happening, and more importantly, how to stop it from happening to other people," she said.

In their study, mice engineered to carry three genes associated with familial Alzheimer's were tested for cognitive impairment using the Morris Water Maze, a common test for memory retention. The mice that had received MitoQ in their drinking water performed significantly better than those that didn't. Additionally, the treated mice tested negative for the oxidative stress, amyloid burden, neural death and synaptic loss associated with Alzheimer's.

Explore further: Poor recycling of BACE1 enzyme could promote Alzheimer's disease

More information: The full paper is available online at www.jneurosci.org/content/31/44/15703.full

Related Stories

Poor recycling of BACE1 enzyme could promote Alzheimer's disease

November 21, 2011
Sluggish recycling of a protein-slicing enzyme could promote Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published online on November 21 in The Journal of Cell Biology.

Recommended for you

Researchers find monkey brain structure that decides if viewed objects are new or unidentified

August 18, 2017
A team of researchers working at the University of Tokyo School of Medicine has found what they believe is the part of the monkey brain that decides if something that is being viewed is recognizable. In their paper published ...

Artificial neural networks decode brain activity during performed and imagined movements

August 18, 2017
Artificial intelligence has far outpaced human intelligence in certain tasks. Several groups from the Freiburg excellence cluster BrainLinks-BrainTools led by neuroscientist private lecturer Dr. Tonio Ball are showing how ...

Study of nervous system cells can help to understand degenerative diseases

August 18, 2017
The results of a new study show that many of the genes expressed by microglia differ between humans and mice, which are frequently used as animal models in research on Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

How whip-like cell appendages promote bodily fluid flow

August 18, 2017
Researchers at Nagoya University have identified a molecule that enables cell appendages called cilia to beat in a coordinated way to drive the flow of fluid around the brain; this prevents the accumulation of this fluid, ...

Researchers make surprising discovery about how neurons talk to each other

August 17, 2017
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have uncovered the mechanism by which neurons keep up with the demands of repeatedly sending signals to other neurons. The new findings, made in fruit flies and mice, challenge ...

Neurons involved in learning, memory preservation less stable, more flexible than once thought

August 17, 2017
The human brain has a region of cells responsible for linking sensory cues to actions and behaviors and cataloging the link as a memory. Cells that form these links have been deemed highly stable and fixed.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Sepp
1 / 5 (1) Dec 14, 2011
and what, pray tell, is MitoQ? - is it a composition of several known antioxidants, is it a new and different substance we have never heard of, what are its characteristics???

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.