Olive Oil Compound May Aid Treatment/Prevention of Alzheimer’s

Scientists have discovered that a naturally-occurring compound (oleocanthal) found in extra-virgin olive oil alters the structure of neurotoxic proteins (ADDLs or beta-amyloid oligomers) believed to contribute to the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's disease. The structural change impedes the proteins' ability to damage brain nerve cells. "Binding of ADDLs to nerve cell synapses is thought to be a crucial first step in the initiation of Alzheimer's disease. Oleocanthal alters ADDL structure in a way that deters their binding to synapses," said Dr. William L. Klein, a co-leader of the research team. "Translational studies are needed to link these laboratory findings to clinical interventions." An unexpected finding was that oleocanthal makes ADDLs into stronger targets for antibodies. This action establishes an opportunity for creating more effective immunotherapy treatments, which use antibodies to bind to and attack ADDLs. Future studies to identify more precisely how oleocanthal changes ADDL structure may increase understanding of the pharmacological actions of oleocanthal and such pharmacological insights could provide discovery pathways related to disease prevention and treatment. This work was reported in the October 15 issue of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. [Press release] [TAP abstract]
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