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August 21, 2009

Regular intake of polyphenols elevates brain levels

Regular intake of polyphenols elevates brain levels

An article appearing online in advance of the publication of the September, 2009 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease revealed that regular intake of grape seed polyphenols effectively elevates plasma and brain levels of the compounds. Polyphenols are believed to protect against the formation of beta-amyloid, a toxic protein that forms in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients which may be responsible for some the disease's damaging effects. Earlier research had found that little, if any, polyphenols reached the brain following ingestion; however, these experiments evaluated polyphenol levels following single or sporadic dosing.

Purdue University associate professor of food science Mario Ferruzzi, in collaboration with Giulio Pasinetti, MD of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, administered three different doses of a grape seed polyphenol extract to rats by intragastric gavage. The polyphenols gallic acid, catechin and epicatechin, and their metabolites were found in plasma in dose-dependent levels after one dose of the extract. Plasma levels measured after ten days of continual ingestion doubled in comparison with levels measured after just one polyphenol dose. Importantly, although epicatechin and catechin were not detectable in the brains of the animals after one dose, they reached significant levels following ten days of administration. "This shows that reasonable and chronic consumption of these products may be the way to go, rather than single, high doses, similar to drugs," Dr Ferruzzi explained. "It's like eating an apple a day, not a case of apples over two days every month."

"The most important thing is that when we follow the repetitive administration of this compound, we were able to observe the transfer of the compound to the brain," noted Dr Pasinetti, who is the Aidekman Family Professor in Neurology and director of the Center of Excellence for Novel Approaches to Neurotherapeutics. "This may help us figure out the proper concentration necessary to get these chemicals to the brain."

Dr Ferruzzi observed that their discovery may be relevant to the delivery of other compounds and drugs. "It could become important in terms of side effects," Ferruzzi said. "You could be overdosing because the body is adapting and absorbing or metabolizing these compounds differently over time."

He added that future research will seek to determine the mechanisms that govern the absorption of compounds during chronic consumption.

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Health Concern Life Extension Highlight

Alzheimer's disease

Oxidative stress is a very important factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Antioxidant supplements help block the oxidative process. According to one researcher: "Beta-amyloid is aggregated and produces more free radicals in the presence of free radicals; beta-amyloid toxicity is eliminated by free radical scavengers" (Grundman M 2000).

Blueberry Extract. When researchers analyzed fruits and vegetables for their antioxidant capability, blueberries came out on top, rating highest in their capacity to destroy free radicals (Wu X et al 2004). In 2005, scientists discovered mechanisms to explain how blueberries can improve memory and restore healthy neuronal function to aged brains. The astounding conclusion of researchers was that the favorable effects of blueberries on brain function are analogous to those seen with long-term calorie restriction (Joseph JA et al 1999; Lau FC et al 2005).

Grape Seed Extract. Grape seed extract has demonstrated remarkable success in blocking the formation of senile plaques. One of the most potent antioxidants available, grape seed extract possesses 20 times more free radical–fighting power than vitamin E and 50 times more than vitamin C (Shi J et al 2003). This remarkable antioxidant activity suggests that grape seed extract should become a part of any regimen to optimize brain health. In laboratory experiments, brain cells of rats were treated with grape seed extract before exposing them to beta-amyloid. Although untreated rat-brain neurons readily accumulated free radicals and subsequently died, the cells treated with grape seed extract were significantly protected (Li MH et al 2004).

Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. Deficiencies of vitamin E in patients who have Alzheimer's disease are associated with increased lipid peroxidation, which appears to cause increased platelet aggregation, a hallmark of Alzheimer's (Ciabattoni G et al 2006).

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