Such communication between nerve cells is vital for good health, not just in the brain, but throughout the body.â€œWe anticipate that the day may come when foods like apples, apple juice and other apple products are recommended along with the most popular Alzheimerâ€™s medications,â€ says Thomas Shea, Ph.D., director of the UML Center for Cellular Neurobiology and Neurodegeneration Research.
study will be published in the August issue of the international Journal of Alzheimerâ€™s Disease
The abstract is now available online athttp://www.j-alz.com/issues/9/vol9-3.html.
role of acetylcholine in the brain is not a new area of research.
Alzheimerâ€™s medication studies start with the premise that increasing the amount of acetylcholine in the brain can help to slow mental decline in people with Alzheimer's disease.
Testing a similar hypothesis, the UML
research team found that having animals consume antioxidant-rich apple juice had a comparable and beneficial effect.
n this novel animal study at UML
, adult (9-12 months) and old (2-2.5 years) mice, some specially bred to develop Alzheimerâ€™s-like symptoms, were fed three different diets (a standard diet, a nutrient-deficient diet, and a nutrient-deficient diet supplemented with apple components (in this case, apple juice concentrate was added to their drinking water).
mong those fed the apple juice-supplemented diet, the mice showed an increased production of acetylcholine in their brains.
Also, after multiple assessments of memory and learning using traditional Y maze tests, researchers found that the mice who consumed the apple juice-supplemented diets performed significantly better on the maze tests.â€œIt was surprising how the animals on the apple-enhanced diets actually did a superior job on the maze tests than those not on the supplemented diet,â€ remarks Dr. Shea
arlier studies by Sheaâ€™s
research team had strongly suggested apples must possess a unique mix of antioxidants that improve cognition and memory via inhibition of oxidation in the brain.
Those results encouraged Shea
to evaluate the neurotransmitter effect, as is done in the current study.
Medications given to humans with Alzheimerâ€™s disease have been shown to inhibit the production of specific enyzmes (cholinesterase inhibitors) that break down acetylcholine in the brain.
The end result in the animal study is similar â€" there are more of these critical messengers remaining in the brain to enhance memory.
results obtained were from the animals consuming moderate amounts of apple juice -comparable to drinking approximately two 8 oz. glasses of apple juice or eating 2-3 apples a day.