Health

Researchers Uncover Neuroprotective Effect of Picholine Olive Oils

Hydroxycinnamic acids, abundant in Picholine extra virgin olive oils, show neuroprotective effect against Alzheimer's B-amyloid peptide plaque deposits in the brain.

Sep. 9, 2016
By Jedha Dening

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The Mediterranean diet is well known for its vari­ety of pos­i­tive health ben­e­fits, many of those ben­e­fits attrib­uted to the ample con­sump­tion of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).

Several stud­ies have rec­og­nized the role EVOO plays in reduc­ing oxida­tive stress, which is a key factor in the patho­gen­e­sis of Alzheimer’s and other neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive con­di­tions.
See more: Olive Oil Health Benefits
Oxidative stress can cause changes to DNA, lipids and cel­lu­lar pro­teins, and neu­rons are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble to the attacks of free rad­i­cals that result as a con­se­quence of oxida­tive stress.

Although Western coun­tries have a high life expectancy, neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tions such as Alzheimer’s are on the rise, which greatly reduce qual­ity of life and place sub­stan­tial burden on public health ser­vices.

Alzheimer’s is char­ac­ter­ized by B‑amyloid (AB) pep­tide plaque deposits in the brain, which is both ini­ti­ated and driven by oxida­tive stress.

Nutrition plays an impor­tant role in reduc­ing oxida­tive stress and the devel­op­ment of such con­di­tions as key nutri­ents pro­vide bioavail­able antiox­i­dants and pow­er­ful com­pounds that can mit­i­gate the effects of free rad­i­cals.

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Extra virgin olive oil is one nutri­tional agent that has been noted to fight a vari­ety of con­di­tions that are ampli­fied by oxida­tive stress, includ­ing ath­er­o­scle­ro­sis, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, and can­cers. Most notably, these effects are due to bio­log­i­cally active phe­no­lic com­pounds that are present in EVOO, includ­ing tyrosol, hydrox­y­ty­rosol, oleo­can­thal, oleu­ropein, oleic acid to name a few.

Other phe­no­lic com­pounds, hydrox­ycin­namic acids such as p‑coumaric, fer­ulic, caf­feic and vanil­lic acids, have been inves­ti­gated in more than 97 stud­ies and have also been shown to be effi­ciently absorbed.

Compared to other oil vari­eties, hydrox­ycin­namic acids are par­tic­u­larly high in extra virgin olive oils made from the Picholine olive vari­ety. Therefore, a recent study pub­lished in Cytotechnology sought to deter­mine the neu­ro­pro­tec­tive effect of EVOO, with a par­tic­u­lar inter­est in deter­min­ing if the ben­e­fits could be attrib­uted to the hydrox­ycin­namic acids.

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The researchers used a com­mer­cial vari­ety of Picholine EVOO from Southern France to deter­mine hydrox­ycin­namic acid con­cen­tra­tions, per­form­ing the tests on human neu­rotropic cells incu­bated over a total of 90 hours under stan­dard mea­sure­ment pro­ce­dures for test­ing the neu­ro­pro­tec­tive effect of such agents. The cells were treated with var­i­ous dilu­tions of EVOO rang­ing from low con­cen­tra­tions of 1/10000 to higher con­cen­tra­tions of 1/100.

As expected, higher con­cen­tra­tions did show greater ben­e­fits. However, even lower con­cen­tra­tions of 1/10000 to 1/1000 showed that EVOO does have a neu­ro­pro­tec­tive effect against AB tox­i­c­ity in cer­tain cells. And more than this, the researchers estab­lished that some of this effect is attrib­uted to the hydrox­ycin­namic acid con­tent.

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They sug­gest fur­ther research explo­ration into foods con­tain­ing hydrox­ycin­namic acids could be a promis­ing ther­a­peu­tic strat­egy for oxida­tive stress reduc­tion in neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­or­ders.