`How EVOO Exerts Neuroprotective Activity Against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease


How EVOO Exerts Neuroprotective Activity Against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease

Feb. 20, 2016
Jedha Dening

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One of the major con­tribut­ing fac­tors to neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­ders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s is oxida­tive stress.

A recent study on rats, pub­lished in Jour­nal of Food Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy, (Jan. 5, 2016), sug­gests that high amounts of polyun­sat­u­rated fats (PUFA) in the body cre­ate sub­strates that are eas­ily oxi­dized, increas­ing the rate of reac­tive oxy­gen species (ROS). This, com­bined with low lev­els of antiox­i­dant enzymes and high oxy­gen use in the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem, leads to more oxida­tive dam­age that is thought to play a key role in such dis­eases.

See more: The Health Ben­e­fits of Olive Oil

Since the 1940s an her­bi­cide known as 2,4‑Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4‑D), has been widely used in agri­cul­ture and forestry indus­tries, which humans and ani­mals are fre­quently exposed to through con­t­a­m­i­nated air, drink­ing water, soil and food­stuff or dur­ing pro­duc­tion of the her­bi­cide.” 2,4‑D has been shown to have neu­ro­toxic effects due to the gen­er­a­tion of free rad­i­cals.

The study sug­gests that the bio­log­i­cal actions of phe­nols in extra vir­gin olive oil (EVOO) exert antiox­i­dant and anti-inflam­ma­tory effects on the brain, with the abil­ity to scav­enge ROS. These phe­nols have been shown in var­i­ous stud­ies to have neu­ro­pro­tec­tive effects against, not only Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, but cere­bral ischemia, spinal cord injury, Huntington’s dis­ease and periph­eral neu­ropa­thy.

The aim of this rat study in par­tic­u­lar, was to estab­lish if EVOO had effects on 2,4‑D induced oxida­tive stress. Using rat brain slices, the researchers had three dif­fer­ent groups, extra vir­gin olive oil (EVOO), olive oil extract­ing the hydrophilic frac­tions (OOHF) and olive oil extract­ing the lipophilic frac­tions (OOLF). They tested lipid per­ox­i­da­tion and antiox­i­dant defence sys­tems with a par­tic­u­lar focus on brain lipid pro­file and fatty acid com­po­si­tion.


After 4 weeks of expo­sure to 2,4‑D treat­ment, the brain weight of the rats decreased along with AChE activ­i­ties — an indi­ca­tor of cell mem­brane dam­age. The brains also dis­played a decrease in mem­brane PUFA con­tents. Both the EVOO and OOLF groups pre­sented with the same fatty acid com­po­si­tion, 17 per­cent sat­u­rated fatty acids, 65 per­cent monoun­sat­u­rated, 15 per­cent PUFA. The changes induced to the brain via pes­ti­cide expo­sure were all coun­ter­acted with the addi­tion of EVOO or it’s frac­tions, restor­ing brain weight and stim­u­lat­ing AChE activ­ity.

In addi­tion, sup­ple­ment­ing with the EVOO also restored antiox­i­dant enzyme activ­i­ties and lipid per­ox­i­da­tion to nor­mal lev­els. The PUFA lev­els were also restored to nor­mal, espe­cially DHA lev­els, pro­vid­ing an observ­able neu­ro­pro­tec­tive effect of EVOO. ROS reduced in the brain also.

The study sug­gests that the ben­e­fi­cial effects of EVOO are due to its high antiox­i­dant sub­stances and monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids.

Though this is only a study in rats, early data sug­gests that EVOO could be a nat­ural pro­tec­tive agent against acute 2,4‑D neu­ro­tox­i­c­ity expo­sure. And while more research is needed, the authors sug­gest EVOO could be a ther­a­peu­tic strat­egy to pro­tect against, not only 2,4‑D expo­sure, but other types of pes­ti­cide expo­sure that con­tribute to neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­ders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and increased oxida­tive stress.

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