The research group "Cellular stress and age" at the University of Jaén (UJA) has determined the neuroprotective capacity of tyrosol, one of the phenolic compounds present in extra virgin olive oil, in the face of the pathogenic effects of neurodegenerative diseases such as disease Parkinson's disease, in an animal model.
As reported by the UJA, Parkinson's is the second neurodegenerative disorder in terms of prevalence in the population and is characterized by the appearance of involuntary movements, tremors, muscle stiffness and difficulties in maintaining balance, as a consequence of the loss of dopaminergic neurons. .
At the cellular level, it is characterized by the intracellular deposition of several proteins, among which is α-synuclein, directly involved in the development and progression of this disease. In turn, according to the teaching center, extra virgin olive oil is unique among vegetable oils due to the high concentration of phenolic compounds it possesses, among which is tyrosol.
In recent years, different investigations have revealed its anticancer, anti-inflammatory, bactericidal and cardioprotective properties, which has led to an interest in analyzing its possible effects on neurodegenerative diseases.
“In previous studies, we have already seen how this phenolic compound increases longevity in an animal model, using the nematode C. elegans. From these results, we value that one of the possibilities to consider was the increase in heat shock proteins, called chaperones, responsible for ensuring the good folding of the other proteins and, therefore, highly involved in neurodegenerative processes" , explained Ana Cañuelo, professor at the Department of Experimental Biology of the UJA and main person in charge of the research.
In this study, researchers from the Jaén center have used two transgenic lines of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, which overexpress a mutated variant of human α-synuclein. In this way, they have reproduced in the nematodes some of the symptoms of this neurodegenerative disease, such as motor deficiencies, in the damage produced in dopaminergic neurons and in the aggregation of this protein in the cell cytoplasm.
"We apply tyrosol to these two lines of nematodes. One of them expresses α-synuclein in all the muscle cells of the nematode and causes progressive paralysis. The other expresses this protein only in dopaminergic neurons, neurons similar to those affected by Parkinson's in humans," said Cañuelo.
The results of his research contrast the neuroprotective effect of this phenolic compound. On the one hand, they point out that tyrosol induces a decrease in oxidative stress and significantly reduces α-synuclein aggregation in vivo, delaying muscle paralysis in nematodes.
Likewise, there is less degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in this animal model, so that the main pathogenic effects of Parkinson's are delayed and are significantly reduced. As reported by the researcher, this study and others similar "may be a first step to support the continuation of this line of research with the performance of clinical and nutritional trials in more complex animals and in humans to test whether tyrosol, as a supplement food, has these effects on patients."
This work, developed mainly by UJA researcher Jesús Calahorra, has recently been published in the impact journal Neurobiology of Aging, in collaboration with other UJA researchers, as well as the researcher at the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) of Barcelona, Montserrat Porta.