Extra Virgin Olive Oil May Prevent Alzheimer's, Study Finds

Extra virgin olive oil consumption decreases the three main characteristics displayed by the Alzheimer's disease phenotype.

By Mary Hernandez
Jun. 22, 2017 10:05 UTC

American researchers have dis­cov­ered that a diet rich with extra vir­gin olive oil (EVOO) – a core com­po­nent of the Mediterranean Diet – can ward off mem­ory loss and cog­ni­tive decline, pro­tect­ing the brain from related con­di­tions such as Alzheimer’s dis­ease, Dementia and mem­ory loss.

EVOO could be con­sid­ered as a viable ther­a­peu­tic oppor­tu­nity for pre­vent­ing or halt­ing Alzheimer’s dis­ease.- Temple University researchers

The find­ings, titled Extra-vir­gin olive oil ame­lio­rates cog­ni­tion and neu­ropathol­ogy of the 3xTg mice: role of autophagy’ was pub­lished in the online jour­nal, the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, as a result of stud­ies under­taken by researchers from Philadelphia’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University led by Domenico Praticò, a pro­fes­sor of Pharmacology and Microbiology and the Center for Translational Medicine.
See Also:Olive Oil Health Benefits
The study aimed to inves­ti­gate the effect that daily con­sump­tion of EVOO has on the inci­dence of Alzheimer’s dis­ease by inves­ti­gat­ing its impact on an Alzheimer’s dis­ease-like phe­no­type found in mod­i­fied mice.

While recent stud­ies have found that the phe­no­lic com­pounds and antiox­i­dant qual­i­ties of EVOO can pro­tect against both dis­ease-related and age-asso­ci­ated brain oxi­da­tion in mice, these stud­ies only addressed one of the main char­ac­ter­is­tics of the Alzheimer’s dis­ease phe­no­type.

To rem­edy this, researchers used mice that had been genet­i­cally mod­i­fied to dis­play the three main char­ac­ter­is­tics of Alzheimer’s dis­ease: mem­ory impair­ment, amy­loid plaque buildup, and neu­rofib­ril­lary tan­gles. Amyloid plaque buildup occurs when a frag­ment of a pro­tein is pro­duced in excess by the brain and cre­ates a buildup between neu­rons, while neu­rofib­ril­lary tan­gles occur when a pro­tein called tau gets twisted, fail­ing to trans­port essen­tial nutri­ents in the brain and result­ing in brain cell death.

The mice were divided into two ran­dom­ized groups – one was fed a stan­dard diet and the other a diet sup­ple­mented by EVOO from the Apulia region of Italy; an oil selected for its adher­ence to the strin­gent qual­ity cri­te­ria required by researchers.

After a six-month period, the mice were put through var­i­ous cog­ni­tive per­for­mance tests (includ­ing nav­i­gat­ing through a maze and fear response train­ing) before their brains under­went dis­sec­tion and analy­sis.

Researchers dis­cov­ered that the mice on the EVOO-rich diet dis­played restored work­ing and spa­tial mem­ory in com­par­i­son to their base­line per­for­mance. Upon exam­i­na­tion, it was dis­cov­ered that the brains of the mice on the EVOO-rich diet had decreased pep­tide lev­els and deposits.

The diet was also found to decrease the lev­els of tau phos­pho­ry­la­tion and pathol­ogy in the brains of the mice and improve synapse integrity and neu­roin­flam­ma­tion with increased autophagy (the elim­i­na­tion of harm­ful accu­mu­lated debris).

As all the above are major char­ac­ter­is­tics of the Alzheimer’s dis­ease phe­no­type, the study demon­strated that EVOO had a ben­e­fi­cial influ­ence, with researchers con­clud­ing that the study pro­vides sup­port to the pos­i­tive cross-sec­tional and lon­gi­tu­di­nal data on this com­po­nent of the Mediterranean diet, and most impor­tantly the bio­log­i­cal ratio­nale to the novel hypoth­e­sis that EVOO could be con­sid­ered as a viable ther­a­peu­tic oppor­tu­nity for pre­vent­ing or halt­ing Alzheimer’s dis­ease.”

To fol­low up on the study, Temple Researchers plan on exam­in­ing the effect that EVOO has in mice that have already devel­oped Alzheimer’s symp­toms to see if it can have any ben­e­fit to exist­ing suf­fer­ers of the dis­ease.


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