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L.Srikumar Pai
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Omani dates prevent Alzheimer’s
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By A Staff Reporter - MUSCAT — Researchers in the Food Science and Nutrition Department of Sultan Qaboos University have embarked on in vitro studies including cell lines to find out the effect of Omani date palm fruit against Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Based on their initial findings, the researchers claim that Oman date varieties have the ability to reduce the progression of Alzheimer’s disease due to the presence of polyphenols and the result of their study could give a novel lead in developing new therapeutic drugs that might be helpful in the treatment and/or prevention against AD.

AD is the most common type of dementia which is characterised by loss of memory and leads to affecting daily activities. The cause of AD is not yet known, however the damage in brain cells is believed to be caused by the accumulation of the protein beta Amyloid outside nerve cells which leads to cell death and reduces the connection between brain cells.

Although there are currently no proven ways to delay the onset or slow the progression of AD, evidences suggest that diet can influence the risk of developing AD and alter amyloid beta protein (Aβ) levels. It follows that if the fibrillogenic nature of Aβ could be circumvented by agents or nutrients, disease prevention or amelioration could possibly be translated into reality. The key step, then, involves identifying these agents that promote solubility or arrest fibrillogenesis of toxic Aβ.

Dr Mohamed Essa Mohamed Musthafa (pictured), Assistant Professor in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, is the principal investigator of this research project.

He said that the first study was to examine the effect of six Omani date palm fruit (Fardh, Kasab, Khalas, Khuniazi, Handal and Kush Habib) varieties on in vitro Aβ fibrillisation using Thioflavin T fluorescence spectroscopy after three days of incubation. All the six varieties of Omani dates had shown a variable rate of inhibition ranging from (5-99 per cent) after three days of incubation with Aβ. Inhibition of Aβ fibrillisation has in fact been reported to ameliorate the neurotoxic effect of Aβ.

Therefore, a strategy to prevent or reverse Aβ fibrillisation can be of prophylactic and therapeutic importance in Alzheimer’s disease. The results of this study were accepted as a chapter of a new book from CRC press UK. Based on the results of the first study, The Research Council (TRC) awarded a research grant of RO 201,000 to Dr Mohamed and his group.

The second study was conducted to analyse the effects of three Omani dates (Fardh, Khalas and Khasab) on Aβ-induced cytotoxicity in rat pheochromocytoma (PC 12) cells, undifferentiated neuronal cells. Dates can increase the viability of the cells, mitochondrial protection and prevents cell death, which was done by evaluating MTT (3-(4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide) reduction, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) leakage (membrane damage), mitochondrial membrane potential, ROS measurement and apoptosis.

The results suggest that date palm fruits could offer protection against Aβ-induced cytotoxicity by decreasing Aβ induced free radical generation and attenuating DNA damage and associated cell death in a dose-dependent manner, possibly by enhancing the endogenous antioxidant defenses. The results of the study were presented in Neurotoxicity Conference in Argentina in April 2011 and the same will be published soon in the Journal of Neurotoxicity research.

( Courtesy: The Oman Observer )


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