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Quercetin could lower Alzheimer’s and other disease risk
In an article that will appear in the December 1 2004 issue of the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers at Cornell University found that quercetin, an antioxidant compound that occurs in apples, onions, berries and other fruit, helps prevent oxidative damage to brain cells that could contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders.
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the overproduction of beta-amyloid protein in the brain, which is believed by some researchers to create free radicals that cause cumulative brain cell damage.
Professor and chairman of the Department of Food Science and Technology at Cornell University, C.Y. Lee, PhD and colleagues exposed rat brain cell cultures to hydrogen peroxide, a compound that causes free radical damage, which is believed to occur in Alzheimer’s disease. The cell cultures were pretreated with quercetin or vitamin C, or received no pretreatment.
Cells that received the quercetin pretreatment experienced significantly less damage to DNA and cellular proteins and had improved viability compared to those exposed to vitamin C or no pretreatment, demonstrating a protective effect for quercetin against neurotoxicity. Vitamin C was also effective, but to a lesser degree than quercetin.
The findings add to those of a growing body of research that Alzheimer’s and other disease risks could be lowered by dietary means, particularly by increasing antioxidant intake. Dr Lee commented, “On the basis of serving size, fresh apples have some of the highest levels of [the antioxidant] quercetin when compared to other fruits and vegetables and may be among the best food choices for fighting Alzheimer’s.”