Breakthrough discovery: Scientists have found where Alzheimer’s starts – in a set of inflamed immune cells


Image: Breakthrough discovery: Scientists have found where Alzheimer’s starts – in a set of inflamed immune cells

Over 5.5 million Americans – mostly over the age of 65 – are battling Alzheimer’s disease, a debilitating condition that kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. Alzheimer’s progressively destroys memory and other cognitive functions, causing confusion, anxiety and heartache. The number of people fighting this disease has increased by a staggering 89 percent since 2000.

Now, an exciting new study by researchers from the University of Bonn, Germany, claims to have uncovered the cause of this incurable disease, and the team hopes that their discovery will lead to a breakthrough in treatment within the next decade.

Scientists have understood for some time that Alzheimer’s is associated with a build-up of amyloid plaques in the brain. Amyloid plaques are a sticky build-up which accumulates on the outside of neurons, or nerve cells. While amyloid is a protein that naturally occurs throughout the body, in Alzheimer’s patients this protein divides improperly, creating a form of amyloid which is toxic to neurons in the brain.

Most human trials for Alzheimer’s treatments have focused on trying to target these plaques. All have failed.

The new research is exciting in that it has revealed the root cause of this amyloid plaque build-up: Inflammation in immune cells called microglia, which make up between 10 and 15 percent of all brain cells, and which act as the brain’s first line of immune defense.

Inflammation directly fuels the characteristic amyloid plaque build-up which autopsies have revealed in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

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The Daily Mail recently reported:

For years inflammation has been suspected of having a role but the exact nature of its involvement has been hard to pin down – until now.

The researchers found the microglia release specks of a protein called ASC in response to it. They stick to the amyloid beta protein – boosting its production. …

ASC reside in a vital inflammatory pathway called the NLRP3 inflammasome which damages brain cells.

The researchers found that this process takes place right from the earliest stages of the disease, and that when an antibody was used in laboratory tests to prevent ASC from binding to the amyloid protein, the damaging, sticky amyloid plaque build-up was prevented.

The research team is excited about the possibility of developing a chemical treatment which can directly target inflammasomes, and hope that an Alzheimer’s “cure” might be on the horizon within the next five to 10 years.

Of course, any such chemical cure is likely to carry a slew of side effects, and will more than likely be very costly.

On the other hand, the knowledge that inflammation is the root cause of Alzheimer’s is very powerful, because inflammation can be avoided and even reversed. (Related: Six healthy habits effective for preventing Alzheimer’s disease.)

An article published by Harvard Medical School, for example, noted:

Doctors are learning that one of the best ways to quell inflammation lies not in the medicine cabinet, but in the refrigerator.

The article noted that while inflammation serves the purpose of protecting your body against threatening invaders, inflammation can sometimes persist for long periods of time, even when no such threat exists. It added:

That’s when inflammation can become your enemy. Many major diseases that plague us—including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s—have been linked to chronic inflammation.

One of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation comes not from the pharmacy, but from the grocery store.

The foods we eat we will either cause or prevent inflammation; it’s as simple as that.

Foods that cause inflammation include refined carbohydrates, fries and other junk food, soda, processed meats, margarine, and conventionally farmed meat that has been subjected to routine antibiotic and hormone treatments.

On the other side of the spectrum, foods that actively fight inflammation include most of the foods that form part of the Mediterranean diet, including tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy veggies, fatty fish like salmon and tuna, and fresh, organic fruit.

Discover the latest information and breakthroughs at Alzheimers.news.

https://www.brighteon.com/embed/5848224213001

Sources for this article include:

DailyMail.co.uk

Alz.org

Health.Harvard.edu

An ancient pear endemic to Italy is a little-known superfood with high concentrations of antioxidant compounds


Image: An ancient pear endemic to Italy is a little-known superfood with high concentrations of antioxidant compounds

The Apennine mountains of central Italy are home to an ancient and rare variant of the European pear (Pyrus communis) called the Cocomerina pear. A study conducted by local researchers revealed that this pink-fleshed pear is a superfood bursting with natural antioxidants.

“Cocomerina” is derived from “cocomero,” the term for watermelon. This variant of pear is called that because of its sweet-smelling and pink flesh, which grows more vivid in color as the fruit ripens.

It is one of the so-called “ancient fruits,” which are very old and only found in a few small areas. The Cocomerina variant of the European pear is restricted to the Apennine area of Romagna and Tuscany. The early-ripening cultivar is harvested in August, while the late-ripening one is collected in October.

Many pears contain large amounts of anthocyanins, flavonoids, and polyphenols.  These plant-based compounds have powerful antioxidant properties that protect cell tissue and membranes from free radicals. (Related: The strange-looking tropical fruit graviola is a POWERFUL superfood against cancer.)

Methodology

Researchers from the Universita di Urbino – Carlo Bo (UdU Carlo Bo) studied the nutritional value of the Cocomerina pear. They harvested ripe specimens of the early-ripening cultivar, as well as both ripe and unripe examples of the late-ripening cultivar.

The cores were removed from the sample fruits before they were chopped up and prepared into fruit extracts. Each extract was analyzed to determine the amount and types of anthocyanins, flavones, flavonoids, flavonols, and polyphenols that it contained.

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Armed with the knowledge of the bioactive plant compounds present in the fruits, the researchers tested the extracts for their antioxidant activity. They measured the effectiveness of each extract when it came to scavenging DPPH free radicals, as well as its capacity to absorb oxygen radicals.

Furthermore, they evaluated the ability of the extracts to prevent inflammation. In the 5’-lipoxygenase assay, they measured the amount of extract required to inhibit 50 percent of the inflammatory activity of lipoxygenase.

Phytochemical content of Cocomerina pear extract

To begin with, the UdU Carlo Bo researchers noted the different amounts of phytochemicals found in the cultivars of the Cocomerina pear. The late-ripening cultivar has higher levels of polyphenolic compounds. Likewise, its ripe fruits contain more polyphenols than unripe samples.

The unripe fruits of the late-ripening cultivar have the best number of flavonoids. Interestingly, the ripe fruits of both ER and LR strains contain similar levels of flavonoids.

When it came to flavones and flavonols, the ripe fruit of the early-ripening cultivar demonstrated the highest level. Dihydroflavonol levels were much higher in the late cultivar, however.

Comparison of the unripe and ripe fruits of the late-ripening cultivar showed that the levels increased alongside the maturity of the fruit. So ripe fruits of the Cocomerina pear contains more phytochemicals than unripe fruits.

The amount of anthocyanin in late-ripening cultivar is 126 times greater than in the early-ripening one. Ripe LR cultivars contain more anthocyanins than unripe ones.

Free radical scavenging and antioxidant activity

All three extracts were able to scavenge DPPH free radicals. The ethanolic extracts made from the unripe and ripe pears of the late-ripening cultivar were much more effective.

Next, the extracts were also effective at inhibiting the activity of the inflammatory enzyme 5’-lipoxygenase. Again, the late-ripening cultivar’s extracts displayed greater effectiveness.

The antioxidant activity was greatest in the ripe fruits of the late-ripening cultivar. When compared with commercial pear cultivars, the Cocomerina pear extracts showed comparable or superior activity.

The researchers concluded that the Cocomerina pear possesses significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. These health benefits could encourage the conservation and recovery of this ancient fruit.

For more stories about cocomerina pear and other fruits that serve as superfoods, check out Fruits.news.

Sources include:

Science.news

Academic.OUP.com

TAndFOnline.com

Pubs.ACS.org