New Delhi: Indian scientists have found that consuming antioxidant foods like green tea, guava leaves, apples, cherries, pears, black berries can minimise the potential health risk due to toxic metal lead-induced Alzheimer’s disease.

Toxic metal lead is found in a number of commonly used materials in homes such as paints, cosmetics, batteries, glass and low grade toys among many others.

While studying that there is possible link between Alzheimer’s disease and heavy metal lead, scientists from the ICMR-National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) also found that therapeutic potential of natural compounds such as catechins, especially, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) present in foods like green tea, guava leaves, apples, cherries, pears, black berries is protective against lead toxicity and can effectively decrease neuronal cell death resulting in neurodegenerative condition.

These foods contain antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and metal chelant properties, to effectively permeate brain and modify several cell survivals, said ICMR- NIN’s senior scientist Dr Suresh Challa.
Talking about another study, conducted by them which showed possible link between the heavy metal and the neurodegenerative disease, he said the molecular mechanism behind both lead and beta amyloid peptide induced toxicity by investigating the molecular mechanism involved in the development of lead induced Alzheimer’s disease through in vitro studies have been unravelled.

“In fact, alzheimer’s disease has a complex pathophysiology which involves initially; formation of beta amyloid plaques and tangles in the brain. In addition, oxidative stress and inflammation are known to be involved in the progression of the disease, with loss of memory and neuronal cell death. In this scenario, our study investigated the basic molecular mechanism behind the involvement of lead in Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr Challa said.

He explained that they simulated brain cells in vitro with beta amyloid peptides like in Alzheimer’s disease and the effect of lead exposure was then studied. “It showed increased cell death and increased levels of pro-apoptotic marker proteins. Further, the proteins involved in neurodevelopment and regeneration have depleted. Such effects led to decreased expression levels of synaptophysin, finally leading to loss of memory as in Alzheimer’s disease,” the scientist added.

Dr R Hemalatha, Director, ICMR-NIN talked about the health hazards of Lead exposure to a woman during pregnancy saying that it can cause developmental reprogramming which can lead to higher risk and early onset of Alzheimer’s disease in later life of the child.

“Since lead exposure is an important public health concern, the current findings could be another piece in solving the puzzle towards understanding the intracellular mechanism of Alzheimer’s disease. Such findings may as well help in developing preventive and management strategies for elderly,” she said.

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