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TODAY news for Thursday, December 14, 2006

School of Science & Technology news

Pomegranate juice may reduce Alzheimer’s disease risk

Richard Hartman, PhD, assistant professor of psychology, SST, is currently studying the effects of pomegranate juice and A-beta antibodies on brain damage caused by stroke or trauma
Richard Hartman, PhD, assistant professor of psychology, SST, is currently studying the effects of pomegranate juice and A-beta antibodies on brain damage caused by stroke or trauma. “There is some evidence that brain injury predisposes individuals to develop Alzheimer’s disease, and I plan to look at this possible interaction.”
When his grandfather passed away from Alzheimer’s disease, Richard Hartman, PhD, assistant professor of psychology, School of Science and Technology, wanted to make a difference. “It was devastating to see the effects,” he recalls.

Dr. Hartman’s crushing experience with Alzheimer’s may help others fight off the disease. He found that a daily glass of pomegranate juice could halve the build-up of harmful proteins linked to Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, his study has shown that pomegranates work just as well as pharmaceutical medicines.

“This study is the first to show beneficial effects (both behavioral and neuropathological) of pomegranate juice in an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Hartman, researcher and lead author of the study. He also collaborated with Washington University researchers on this project. 

The study began with transgenic mice predisposed to develop Alzheimer’s-like pathology and symptoms. At a young age, the mice were split into two groups—half received water with added pomegranate-juice concentrate, and the control group received drinking water with the same amount of sugar a
Dr. Hartman�s research found that the mice who drank the pomegranate juice had 50 percent less beta-amyloid plaques in the hippocampus of their brains.
Dr. Hartman’s research found that the mice who drank the pomegranate juice had 50 percent less beta-amyloid plaques in the hippocampus of their brains.
s the juice. The mice drank an average of 5 milliliters of fluid a day, which is roughly equivalent to a human drinking one to two glasses of pomegranate juice a day. The learning and memory abilities of the mice were tested in the Morris water maze, which required the animals to swim and find a submerged platform in a pool of water.

The results are significant. After six months, the pomegranate juice-treated mice learned water maze tasks more quickly and swam faster; and the mice that drank the pomegranate juice had 50 percent less beta-amyloid plaques in the hippocampus of their brains.

Pomegranates contain very high levels of polyphenols (an antioxidant phytochemical that tends to prevent or neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals) as compared to other fruits and vegetables.

This somewhat uncommon fruit is one of the first cultivated crops (with olives, grapes, figs, and dates), developed around 4000 to 3000 BC in the Middle East. It was also used as a folk medicine throughout the ages for a variety of ailments, and it is mentioned in many of the world’s major religions.

The study, titled “Pome-granate juice decreases amyloid load and improves behavior in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease,” is featured in the December 2006 journal Neurobiology of Disease.

By Patricia Thio

TODAY news for Thursday, December 14, 2006