Tufts Uni­ver­si­ty sci­en­tists stud­ied 21 com­pounds in a mod­el of the Alzheimer’s plaque ner­vous sys­tem.

Alzheimer’s dis­ease is the most com­mon form of demen­tia (demen­tia), in which char­ac­ter­is­tic for­ma­tions between neu­rons — pro­tein plaques — form in the brain tis­sues. Chem­i­cals found in green tea called cat­e­chins have been able to reduce these plaques in the lab. In addi­tion, the com­pound resver­a­trol, found in blue­ber­ries, grapes, and red wine, also has sim­i­lar effects on human brain cells.

The sci­en­tists test­ed the effi­ca­cy of 21 com­pounds on a 3D mod­el of neur­al tis­sue. Cat­e­chins and resver­a­trol have proven effec­tive in reduc­ing plaque for­ma­tion in these nerve cells. And they did it with vir­tu­al­ly no side effects.

Some of the oth­er com­pounds test­ed, includ­ing cur­cum­in from turmer­ic, a dia­bet­ic drug, and the nat­ur­al endoge­nous com­pound citi­co­l­ine, also pre­vent­ed plaque for­ma­tion.

The researchers’ find­ings do not con­clu­sive­ly sug­gest that the neu­ro­pro­tec­tive prop­er­ties of the 21 com­pounds stud­ied will help stop the pro­gres­sion of demen­tia. For exam­ple, some of the com­pounds stud­ied are poor­ly absorbed into the body or into the blood­stream. And some com­pounds could not pen­e­trate the blood-brain bar­ri­er between the blood ves­sels of the brain and the cells that make up the brain tis­sue.

But the results are impor­tant because there is cur­rent­ly no cure for Alzheimer’s dis­ease, and meth­ods to slow the pro­gres­sion of the dis­ease are lim­it­ed. Green tea and berries are rich in flavonoids, which can reduce cell-dam­ag­ing free rad­i­cals, reduce inflam­ma­tion in the brain, and improve cere­bral blood flow.

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