Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Natural compound shows promise against Huntington's disease

Date:
November 15, 2010
Source:
Salk Institute
Summary:
Fisetin, a naturally occurring compound found in strawberries and other fruits and vegetables, slows the onset of motor problems and delays death in three models of Huntington's disease, according to researchers. The study sets the stage for further investigations into fisetin's neuroprotective properties in Huntington's and other neurodegenerative conditions.

Fisetin, a naturally occurring compound found in strawberries and other fruits and vegetables, slows the onset of motor problems and delays death in three models of Huntington's disease, according to researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
Credit: iStockphoto/Valentyn Volkov

Fisetin, a naturally occurring compound found in strawberries and other fruits and vegetables, slows the onset of motor problems and delays death in three models of Huntington's disease, according to researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. The study, published in the online edition of Human Molecular Genetics, sets the stage for further investigations into fisetin's neuroprotective properties in Huntington's and other neurodegenerative conditions.

Related Articles


Huntington's disease (HD) is an inherited disorder that destroys neurons in certain parts of the brain and slowly erodes victims' ability to walk, talk and reason. It is caused by a kind of genetic stutter, which leads to the expansion of a trinucleotide repeat in the huntingtin protein. When the length of the repeated section reaches a certain threshold, the bearer will develop Huntington's disease. In fact, the longer the repeat, the earlier symptoms develop and the greater their severity.

One of the intracellular signaling cascades affected by mutant huntingtin is the so-called Ras/ERK pathway. It is activated by growth factors and is particularly important in brain development, learning, memory and cognition.

In earlier studies, Pamela Maher, Ph.D., a senior staff scientist in the Salk Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory, had found that fisetin exerted its neuroprotective and memory-enhancing effects through the activation of the Ras/ERK signaling pathway. "Because Ras/ERK is known to be less active in HD, we thought fisetin might prove useful in the condition," Maher says.

Maher and her team began their study by looking at a nerve cell line that could be made to express a mutant form of the huntingtin protein. Without treatment, about 50 percent of these cells will die within a few days. Adding fisetin, however, prevented cell death and appeared to achieve it by activating the Ras-ERK cascade.

The researchers then turned their attention to Drosophila. In collaboration with J. Lawrence Marsh, Ph.D., a professor of developmental and cell biology at the University of California, Irvine, Maher tested fisetin in fruit flies overexpressing mutant huntingtin in neurons in the brain. The affected flies don't live as long as normal flies and also have defective eye development. When they were fed fisetin, however, the HD flies maintained their life span and had fewer eye defects.

Finally, Maher and her team tested fisetin's effects in a mouse model of HD. HD mice develop motor defects early on and have much shorter life spans than normal control animals. When Maher and her team fed them fisetin, the onset of the motor defects was delayed, and their life span was extended by about 30 percent.

"Fisetin was not able to reverse or stop the progress of the disease," Maher notes, "but the treated mice retained better motor function for longer, and they lived longer."

Fisetin, which also has anti-inflammatory properties and maintains levels of glutathione, a major cellular antioxidant that plays a key role in protecting against different types of stress in cells, has not yet been tested in humans. But Maher's findings suggest that the compound may be able to slow down the progression of Huntington's disease in humans and improve the quality of life for those who have it. While she cautions that it won't necessarily be effective for people already in the advanced stages of the disease, for those in the early stages or who are presymptomatic, fisetin might help.

Furthermore, once their safety and efficacy are proved in humans, the advent of substances like fisetin might prompt more people to be tested for the mutation. "Cells are damaged and dying before there are overt symptoms," Maher says. "If patients know they have the mutation, then they could potentially start treatment before they start showing symptoms, which might be more effective than waiting for the symptoms to appear, as many do now."

Maher's lab has developed a variety of fisetin derivatives that are more potent in cell-based assays than the fisetin used in the study, and she plans further tests to see which combination is most effective in HD and other neurodegenerative disorders.

In the meantime, does she recommend eating a lot of strawberries to gain fisetin's benefits?

"It probably couldn't hurt," she says.

In addition to Maher and Marsh, Richard Dargusch of the Salk Institute and Laszlo Bodai, Paul Gerard and Judy Purcell of the University of California, Irvine, contributed to the study.

This work was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Salk Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Pamela Maher, Richard Dargusch, Laszlo Bodai, Paul E. Gerard, Judith M. Purcell, and J. Lawrence Marsh. ERK activation by the polyphenols fisetin and resveratrol provides neuroprotection in multiple models of Huntington's disease. Hum. Mol. Genet., October 15, 2010 DOI: 10.1093/hmg/ddq460

Cite This Page:

Salk Institute. "Natural compound shows promise against Huntington's disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101115151942.htm>.
Salk Institute. (2010, November 15). Natural compound shows promise against Huntington's disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101115151942.htm
Salk Institute. "Natural compound shows promise against Huntington's disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101115151942.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins