Mount Sinai researchers say compound from grapes could fight Alzheimer’s

  • There’s no prevention or cure for Alzheimer’s disease at this point. The best many experts can do is to suggest that people adopt healthy habits such as reducing stress, exercising, weight control and a good diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables.


    However, researchers are working hard to find an answer to the Alzheimer’s puzzle. In a recent press release titled Grape-Derived Compound Prevents Alzheimer's Disease Progression in Mice, a research team at the Mount Sinai Hospital announced a study indicating  that naturally occurring polyphenols from grapes improves cognitive function in mice genetically altered to have Alzheimer’s disease. The study results were published in a recent edition of the Journal of Neuroscience.

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    The press release states that polyphenols, which are found in grapes as well as many other fruits and vegetables, have been “shown to prevent the cognitive decline associated with AD in a mouse mode…but the molecules are very complex and are extensively metabolized in the body.”


    Because of complexity of how polyphenols work in the body, the researchers believe that a drug based on these naturally occurring polyphenols could be the likely result.


    Studies continue to contradict one another


    Pharmaceutical companies are scrambling to develop a potentially multi-billion dollar drug that can prevent or cure Alzheimer’s disease, but so far haven’t hit the jackpot. Several drugs have reached the stage of human trials only to show that they don’t work or have dangerous side effects.


    Proponents of natural substances as a way to prevent or cure Alzheimer’s disease are also hard at work. They have presented studies showing that antioxidants, fish oil and lifestyle changes may help slow progress of AD, if not prevent it.


    One result of so many research projects is contradicting results. There will be a lot of hype over one “emerging” prevention or cure for AD, only to be contradicted shortly after with a conflicting theory. One recent study concluded that supplements weren’t as helpful in preventing AD as the nutrients in natural foods. Yet other researchers are testing antioxidants in supplement form and seeing promise. This inevitable conflict is part of the road to discovery.


    Drugs derived from naturally occurring substances are certainly not new. For example, digitalis, found naturally in a type of foxglove plant and refined for medical use, has been used for heart disease for decades. The promise of this new study with grape-seed extract points to another example of a potential drug based on a naturally occurring substance.


    Meanwhile, we wait. However, eating a healthy diet abundant in fruits and vegetables, keeping our heart health, exercising and staying mentally active and positive are habits not likely to harm us. So, while we wait for scientists to fine the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, we may as well enjoy better overall health. If better overall health prevents AD for some people, that’s a bonus that money can’t buy.


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    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services AHRQ Publication No. 10-E005 (2010, April)   Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease and Cognitive Decline.  Retrieved from


    Mount Sinai Hospital Press Release (2012, May 2) Grape-Derived Compound Prevents Alzheimer's Disease Progression in Mice. Retrieved from


    Pasinetti, GM, et. al. (2012, April 11) Brain-Targeted Proanthocyanidin Metabolites for Alzheimer's Disease Treatment. Journal of Neuroscience. Retrieved from

Published On: May 15, 2012