Naturally Occurring Substance In Pomegranates Can Improve Treatment Of Alzheimer’s Disease

A substance naturally occurring in i.a. pomegranates, strawberries and walnuts can improve memory and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, a new study conducted at the University of Copenhagen concludes.

Forgetfulness, difficulty finding words and confusion about time and place. These are some of the most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Now researchers at the University of Copenhagen have discovered that an ordinary fruit can help.

“Our study on mouse models with AD shows that urolithin A, which is a naturally occurring substance in i.a. pomegranates, can alleviate memory problems and other consequences of dementia,” says Vilhelm Bohr, who is Affiliate Professor at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Copenhagen and prevoiusly Department Chair at the US National Institute on Aging.

This is good news for patients with dementia — a disease that is difficult to treat.

“Even though the study was conducted on mouse models, the prospects are positive. So far, research has shown promising results for the substance in the muscles, and clinical trials on humans are being planned.”

Substance improves brain function

The researchers previously discovered that a specific molecule, nicotinamide riboside (NAD supplement), plays a key role in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as it actively helps remove damaged mitochondria from the brain.

“Many patients with neurodegenerative diseases experience mitochondrial dysfunction, also known as mitophagy. This means that the brain has difficulties removing weak mitochondria, which thus accumulate and affect brain function. If you are able to stimulate the mitophagy process, removing weak mitochondria, you will see some very positive results,” Vilhelm Bohr explains.

The results of the new study show that a substance found in pomegranates, urolithin A, removes weak mitochondria from the brain just as effectively as NAD supplement.

Possible preventive effect

The researchers still don’t know how much urolithin A is needed to improve memory and alleviate symptoms of i.a. Alzheimer’s.

“We still cannot say anything conclusive about the dosage. But I imagine that it is more than a pomegranate a day. However, the substance is already available in pill form, and we are currently trying to find the right dosage,” Vilhelm Bohr says.

He also hopes the substance can be used for preventive purposes with no significant side effects.

“The advantage of working with a natural substance is the reduced risk of side effects. Several studies so far show that there are no serious side effects of NAD supplementation. Our knowledge of urolithin A is more limited, but as I mentioned, clinical trials with Urolithin A have been effective in muscular disease, and now we need to look at Alzheimers disease. ,” he says and adds: Possible preventive effect

The researchers still don’t know how much urolithin A is needed to improve memory and alleviate symptoms of i.a. Alzheimer’s.

“We still cannot say anything conclusive about the dosage. But I imagine that it is more than a pomegranate a day. However, the substance is already available in pill form, and we are currently trying to find the right dosage,” Vilhelm Bohr says.

He also hopes the substance can be used for preventive purposes with no significant side effects.

“The advantage of working with a natural substance is the reduced risk of side effects. Several studies so far show that there are no serious side effects of NAD supplementation. Our knowledge of urolithin A is more limited, but as I mentioned, clinical trials with Urolithin A have been effective in muscular disease, and now we need to look at Alzheimers disease. ,” he says and adds:

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Copenhagen – The Faculty of Health and Medical SciencesNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Yujun Hou, Xixia Chu, Jae‐Hyeon Park, Qing Zhu, Mansoor Hussain, Zhiquan Li, Helena Borland Madsen, Beimeng Yang, Yong Wei, Yue Wang, Evandro F. Fang, Deborah L. Croteau, Vilhelm A. Bohr. Urolithin A improves Alzheimer’s disease cognition and restores mitophagy and lysosomal functionsAlzheimer’s & Dementia, 2024; DOI: 10.1002/alz.13847

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10609777/

Abstract

Urolithin A (UA) is a naturally occurring compound derived from the metabolism of gut microbiota, which has attracted considerable research attention due to its pharmacological effects and potential implications in muscle health and performance. Recent studies have demonstrated that Urolithin A exhibits diverse biological activities, encompassing anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-tumor, and anti-aging properties. In terms of muscle health, accumulating evidence suggests that Urolithin A may promote muscle protein synthesis and muscle growth through various pathways, offering promise in mitigating muscle atrophy. Moreover, Urolithin A exhibits the potential to enhance muscle health and performance by improving mitochondrial function and regulating autophagy.

1. Introduction

In recent years, there has been a substantial increase in the recognition of the critical importance of both health and athletic performance [1,2]. The pursuit of muscle health and optimal athletic performance is no longer confined solely to athletes or fitness enthusiasts but has become a pervasive goal among the general population, who strive for a healthier and more active lifestyle [3,4]. Consequently, there is a widespread demand for strategies to enhance muscle health and improve athletic performance, rendering this field an area of profound discussion and extensive research.

In terms of muscle health, accumulating evidence suggests that Urolithin A may promote muscle protein synthesis and muscle growth through various pathways, offering promise in mitigating muscle atrophy. Moreover, Urolithin A exhibits the potential to enhance muscle health and performance by improving mitochondrial function 

Urolithin A’s Sources in the Diet

Urolithin A, a natural metabolite derived from ellagitannins, is biosynthesized by the gut microbiota [11,12], It is a type of compound known as urolithins, which are present in pomegranates and certain other fruits and nuts such as strawberries, walnut kernels, and peanuts. Ellagitannins serve as precursors to urolithins and undergo microbial metabolism within the gastrointestinal tract to produce Urolithin A [7]. Pomegranate, walnut, and almond stand out as the primary and richest dietary sources of Urolithin A [13,14]. Pomegranate peel and seeds contain abundant polyphenolic compounds, including Urolithin A formed through metabolism by the gut microbiota. Walnut is also considered a dietary source of Urolithin A, as it is rich in polyphenolic compounds and anthocyanins that may interact with gut microbiota during digestion and potentially generate Urolithin A. Almond is another potential dietary source of Urolithin A. It contains polyphenolic compounds, particularly flavonoids and anthocyanins, which can be converted into Urolithin A upon interaction with gut microbiota. Blueberry, recognized for its antioxidant-rich content, including various polyphenolic compounds, which may also include Urolithin A [15]. However, research on the content of Urolithin A in blueberry remains limited, necessitating further studies to confirm its source and concentration [16].

Author picture

Medically reviewed by Dr. Henry C. Sobo, M.D

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