Olive oil extract shows brain protecting benefits

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Olive oil

An olive extract rich in hydroxytyrosol may protect neurons in the brain from the normal deterioration associated with aging, suggests a new study.

Hydroxytyrosol was found to protect brain cells from the detrimental effects of oxidative stress when exposed to ferrous ion, and may offer a neuroprotective ingredient to slow the decline in cognitive performance that occurs naturally with age, according to findings published in Pharmacological Research​.

Hydroxytyrosol is thought to be the main antioxidant compound in olives, and believed to play a significant role in the many health benefits attributed to olive oil. Previous research has linked the compound to cardiovascular benefits, with reductions in LDL or 'bad' cholesterol. Data has also suggested the compound may boost eye health and reduce the risk of against macular degeneration.

Researchers from the University of Frankfurt used Genosa I+D’s Hytolive ingredient, and the findings were welcomed by the Spanish company. In an email with NutraIngredients-USA, Genosa’s Carlos Peña said: “This is the second study that confirms the neuro-protection activity of Hytolive, by protecting and preventing neurons and brain from deterioration associated to degenerative diseases.

“In a previous study it was demonstrated that Hytolive protected dissociated brain cells (in vitro and ex-vivo) after subchronic oral administration. This second study has confirmed that the active principle is natural hydroxytyrosol. This means that cytoprotective effects in PC12 cells (a commonly used neuronal-like cell culture model) are likely due to hydroxytyrosol present in Hytolive and not a combination of compounds,”​ added Peña.

Study details

The Frankfurt-based scientists tested the efficacy of the hydroxytyrosol-rich extract in vitro​ on cells exposed to both oxidative or nitrosative stress. Cells were exposed to the hydroxytyrosol-rich ingredient and then subjected to the stress.

Results showed that the olive oil compound reduced the cell damaging effects of the oxidative and nitrosative stress in a dose-dependent manner, with higher doses providing increased protection.

Furthermore, the effects appeared to be related to the hydroxytyrosol-content of the extract, said the researchers.

“With respect to hydroxytyrosol, its incorporation into LDL which are transported into the brain, might provide a physiological route for hydroxytyrosol to enter brain cells,”​ added the researchers.

Source: Pharmacological Research
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2010.06.004
"Cytoprotective effects of olive mill waste water extract and its main constituent hydroxytyrosol in PC12 cells"
Authors: S. Schaffer, W.E. Muller, G.P. Eckert

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