Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disease that is increasingly prevalent worldwide.
UCLA scientists have discovered a molecule found in green tea that is capable of breaking down the protein knots that form in the brain and cause Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
The molecule contained in green tea is called EGCG - epigallocatechin gallate.
This ingredient is capable of destroying fibers made up of tau protein that form knots attacking brain cells.
The study is published in Nature Communications.
Scientists have discovered how EGCG is able to break down fibers made up of tau protein.
Thousands of layers of tau molecules connect and stick together to form amyloid fibers that form tangles.
These structures were first described by Alzheimer when examining the brains of patients who died of dementia .
These fibers grow and spread in the brain, leading to the destruction of brain cells and brain atrophy .
Many scientists believe that disrupting or removing tau fibers could be effective in halting the progression of dementia , as it would also reduce the destruction of brain cells.
So far, attempts to do this have been unsuccessful due to the use of high-mass antibodies that have difficulty penetrating the brain .
For several decades, scientists have known about the presence of this ingredient in green tea , which is capable of destroying amyloid fibers.
The goal of the study was to determine how EGCG destroys tau fibers.
For the purpose of the study, samples of tau nodules from the brains of patients who died of Alzheimer's were used.
Samples were incubated for different times in medium containing EGCG .
After three hours, half of the tau fibers were destroyed and the rest partially degraded.
Scientists have identified several specific sites located along tau fibers that EGCG binds to.
Other molecules such as CNS-11 and CNS-17 are also capable of slowing cell-to-cell fiber propagation.
The structure of tau knots has only recently been discovered, so further studies are still needed to elucidate the specifics of the structures causing neurodegenerative diseases, as well as possible therapeutic approaches.