Extra virgin olive oil may protect brain from Alzheimer's disease

A new study based on experiments with mice suggests that extra virgin olive oil may protect the brain from symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
By James Carlin | Jun 24, 2017
A new study based on experiments with mice suggests that extra virgin olive oil may protect the brain from symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

The study, by researchers for the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is published in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.

Lead researcher Dr. Domenico Pratic and colleagues studied young mice that were genetically modified to develop the three primary symptoms of Alzheimer's disease: impaired memory, amyloid plaque buildup, and neurofibrillary tangles, according to Medical News Today.

The scientists divided the mice into two groups one group had extra virgin olive oil added to their food and the other did not. Then they evaluated the rodents' cognitive abilities by testing them for learning skills, along with spatial and working memory.

The mice fed extra virgin olive oil performed significantly better in the cognitive tests. Their synapses, which make communication between neurons possible, were better preserved and their brain tissue showed a "dramatic increase" in the way nerve cells eliminate toxic debris.

"This is an exciting find for us," said Dr. Pratic, in Medical News Today. "Thanks to the autophagy activation, memory, and synaptic integrity were preserved, and the pathological effects in animals otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer's disease were significantly reduced."

The team next wants to give olive oil to mice at an older age, when they would already be experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer's.

"We want to know whether olive oil added at a later time point in the diet can stop or reverse the disease," said Pratic.

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