Natural compounds in pomegranates may offer some protection against Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study published in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience.
Recent studies have shown that pomegranate extract, which is a rich source of disease-fighting polyphenols, may boost brain function. But new research out of the University of Rhode Island has tied those benefits to specific compounds — known as urolithins, which are made when gut bacteria break down the polyphenols in fruit extracts.
Alzheimer's disease is associated with the formation of amyloid proteins in the brain that form clumps, causing memory loss, cognitive problems, and eventually death.
Past studies have shown that a pomegranate extract has anti-Alzheimer's effects in animals and blocks this process, but researchers weren’t sure how or which compounds are responsible.
Navindra Seeram, an associate professor of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences, and colleagues isolated and identified 21 compounds — mostly polyphenols — from the pomegranate extract. Further studies showed urolithins — anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective compounds — appear to be the likely culprits in blocking the mechanisms involved in Alzheimer’s development.
The researchers said the findings are promising, but additional research is needed to determine whether the protective effects of these compounds, show in laboratory experiments, could ultimately help prevent or treat Alzheimer's in patients.
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