Study shows extra virgin olive oil could prevent many forms of dementia

Improving brain function is essential to counter the effects of aging. And according to a study by researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) in the United States, if there is one more thing that every person should consider doing to keep his brain "young" is to add extra virgin olive oil to his diet.

Extra virgin olive oil (or EVOO) is a superfood rich in antioxidants protecting the cells and known for its multiple health benefits, particularly to help curb related diseases. aging, such as cardiovascular diseases.

Previous research, also done at LKSOM, showed that EVOO preserves memory and protects the brain against Alzheimer's disease.

And in a new study conducted on mice, LKSOM researchers show that it is possible to add to this list another group of diseases related to aging, tauopathies, characterized by the progressive formation of an abnormal form of 'a specific protein linked to dementia, tau protein, in the brain.

This process leads to a decline in mental function, or dementia. The results obtained are the first to suggest that EVOO can help the brain defend itself against a specific type of mental decline associated with tauopathy, called frontotemporal dementia. The results of the study were published in the journal Aging Cell.

Extra virgin olive oil to fight against different forms of dementia

Alzheimer's disease itself is a form of dementia. It mainly affects the hippocampus, the storage center of memory in the brain. Frontotemporal dementia affects areas of the brain near the forehead and ears. Symptoms typically appear between the ages of 40 and 65 and include changes in personality and behavior, language and writing difficulties, possible memory impairment, and the ability to learn from experience.

Dr. Domenico Praticò, Scott Richards North Star Foundation Chair in Alzheimer's Disease Research, Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Microbiology and Director of the LKSOM Alzheimer Center, describes this new work as additional evidence showing the ability of EVOO to prevent cognitive decline and to protect the points of convergence of neurons, synapses, crucial elements of information sharing in the brain.

" EVO has been part of human nutrition for a very long time and has many health benefits, for reasons we do not yet fully understand ," he said. " The realization that EVOO can protect the brain against different forms of dementia gives us the opportunity to learn more about the mechanisms by which it acts to promote brain health. "

In earlier research on a mouse model, in which mice were modified to develop Alzheimer's disease, the Praticò team showed that the EVOO provided in the diet protected young mice from memory and learning disabilities as they age.

Improvement of memory and learning and decrease of amyloid plaques

More particularly, when the researchers examined the brain tissue of EVOO-fed mice, they did not observe the typical characteristics of cognitive decline, particularly amyloid plaques, sticky proteins that saturate the communication pathways between neurons. In other words, the animal brain seemed normal.

In the case of this new study , similar consequences could be observed. Indeed, the team shows that it is the same for mice designed to develop a tauopathy.

In the latter, the normal tau protein becomes defective and accumulates in the brain, forming harmful tau protein deposits, also called "entanglements". Tau deposits, similar to amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's disease, block neuronal communication and thus interfere with thought and memory, leading to frontotemporal dementia.

The sick mice of the experiment were then subjected to a diet supplemented with EVOO at a young age, comparable to about 30 or 40 years in humans.

Six months later, when the mice had the equivalent of 60 years in humans, the harmful tau deposits were reduced by 60% in animals at risk of tauopathy, compared to other non-fed animals. extra virgin olive oil. The EVOO diet mice also showed better performance in memory and learning tests than those without EVOO.

Healthier functioning of synapses

When Dr. Praticò and his colleagues examined the brain tissue of mice fed EVOO, they found that improved brain function was probably facilitated by healthier functioning of the synapses, which was associated with higher levels of brain function. higher than the normal of a protein called Complexin-1. Complexin-1 is known to play a critical role in maintaining healthy synapses.

The research team is now exploring what happens when EVOO is given to older animals, who have started to develop tau deposits and signs of cognitive decline, which is more closely related. to the clinical scenario in humans.

" We are particularly interested in whether EVOO can reverse the damage caused by tau protein and ultimately treat tauopathies in older mice ," added Dr. Praticò.


Extra virgin olive oil improves synaptic activity, short-term
plasticity, memory, and neuropathology in a tauopathy model

Elisabetta Lauretti1 | Miroslav Nenov1 | Ozlem Dincer1 | Luigi Iuliano2,3 |
Domenico Praticò1

DOI: 10.1111/acel.13076


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