Researchers Use AI to Identify the Olive Oil Compounds that Affect Alzheimer’s

Using a machine learning algorithm, researchers identified ten compounds in extra virgin olive oil that act like pharmaceutical treatments for dementia.
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By Paolo DeAndreis
Sep. 13, 2023 13:08 UTC

New research has iden­ti­fied chem­i­cal com­pounds in extra vir­gin olive oil that could help to pre­vent and treat Alzheimer’s dis­ease, the most com­mon form of demen­tia, using net­work machine learn­ing algo­rithms.

In the study pub­lished in Human Genomics, the inter­na­tional research team iden­ti­fied ten phy­to­chem­i­cals that appear to act sim­i­larly to known phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal agents against plaque build-up in the brain.

The abnor­mal build-up of pro­tein in and around the brain is one of the main char­ac­ter­is­tics of Alzheimer’s dis­ease. Separate research pre­dicts the rates of demen­tia will triple by 2050 due to the ris­ing num­ber of older peo­ple and diet and lifestyle choices that accel­er­ate the dis­ease.

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The researchers from Yale School of Public Health, Imperial College London and the University of Athens said these com­pounds could be the sub­jects of future clin­i­cal stud­ies.

Our study, which inte­grates arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, ana­lyt­i­cal chem­istry, and omics stud­ies into a unique frame­work, pro­vides fresh per­spec­tives on how extra vir­gin olive oil might con­tribute to the pre­ven­tion and or treat­ment of Alzheimer’s dis­ease,” said Vasilis Vasiliou, the chair of Yale School of Public Health’s envi­ron­men­tal health sci­ences depart­ment.

In the study, the researchers ini­tially iden­ti­fied 67 bioac­tive chem­i­cals in extra vir­gin olive oil that could poten­tially slow the causes and mit­i­gate the symp­toms of Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

Using the machine learn­ing algo­rithm, they sim­u­lated how the com­pounds might dis­rupt the accu­mu­la­tion of plaque asso­ci­ated with the dis­ease.

Researchers said the study was unique because it uses a machine learn­ing tool tai­lored to process net­work struc­tures com­mon in bio­log­i­cal data.

Of the ten phy­to­chem­i­cals iden­ti­fied in the study – quercetin, genis­tein, lute­olin, palmi­toleate, stearic acid, api­genin, epi­cat­e­chin, kaempferol, squa­lene and daidzein – researchers deter­mined that quercetin had the high­est like­li­hood of act­ing sim­i­larly to cur­rent med­ica­tions against Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

Previous research showed that quercitin might inhibit the buildup of amy­loid beta, the pro­tein most asso­ci­ated with the dis­ease. Separate stud­ies have also found that quercitin may mit­i­gate the impacts of oxida­tive stress, which plays a sig­nif­i­cant role in the pro­gres­sion of neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive ill­nesses.

While the researchers believe these find­ings are highly rel­e­vant to high­light­ing the health ben­e­fits of extra vir­gin olive oil, they acknowl­edged the study’s lim­i­ta­tions.

The researchers said the algo­rithm only iden­ti­fied extra vir­gin olive oil chem­i­cal com­pounds that appear to impact the devel­op­ment of pro­teins but could not gauge their effec­tive­ness.

Furthermore, the algo­rithm was trained only using approved Alzheimer’s med­ica­tion in the United States, mean­ing other poten­tially effec­tive chem­i­cals in extra vir­gin olive oil may not be iden­ti­fied.

It is only through the con­duct of such stud­ies that the pre­dic­tive util­ity of our machine learn­ing approach will be val­i­dated,” the authors wrote.

While the results of the present study shed light on how extra vir­gin olive oil may help treat or pre­vent Alzheimer’s dis­ease, the same approach may be applied to iden­tify extra vir­gin olive oil phy­to­chem­i­cals (or other food con­stituents) that treat other dis­eases, such as demen­tia, hyper­ten­sion or dys­lipi­demia,” they con­cluded.


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