TGen Logo Previously we were informed that regular exercise and a compound derived from tobacco can prevent or delay memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Well, here is another component that may also produce similar results. A novel investigation from the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) has now identified a family of naturally occurring plant compounds that restrict or slowdown memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease.

In this research, it was affirmed that beta-carboline alkaloids can be supposedly used in therapeutic drugs to halt or diminish the progressively debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s. One of these alkaloids named harmine is believed to interfere with the DYRK1A protein, which is involved in the formation of tau phosphorylation. This process probably dismantles the connections between brain cells or neurons.

“Pharmacological inhibition of DYRK1A through the use of beta-carboline alkaloids may provide an opportunity to intervene therapeutically to alter the onset or progression of tau pathology in Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Travis Dunckley, Head of TGen’s Neurodegenerative Research Unit, and the lead investigator.

Beta-carboline alkaloids, present in a wide variety of medicinal plants allegedly have antioxidant properties. These alkaloids apparently protect brain cells from excessive stimulation of neurotransmitters. Known as the naturally occurring compounds in some plant species, alkaloids may affect multiple central nervous system targets. In normal conditions, proteins possibly control tau by adding phosphates.

This process of tau phosphorylation apparently allows connections between brain cells to unbind and bind again, allowing neurons to connect and reconnect with other brain cells. However, this process can go astray, allowing the formation of neurofibrillary tangles, one of the signature indicators of Alzheimer’s. After conducting a number of laboratory tests on harmine, it was affirmed that this class of compounds can alter the onset or progression of tau dysfunction and pathology in Alzheimer’s disease.

The research is published in the journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) One.