ABSTRACT: Background: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common age-related neurodegenerative disorder, characterized by pathological aggregates of amyloid peptide-β (Aβ) and tau protein. Currently available therapies mediate AD symptoms without modifying disease progression. Polyphenol-rich diets are reported to reduce the risk for AD. Objective: In the present study, we investigated the AD disease-modifying effects of cocoa, a rich source of flavanols, which are a class of polyphenols. We hypothesized that cocoa extracts interfere with amyloid-β oligomerization to prevent synaptic deficits. Methods: We tested the effects of three different cocoa extracts, viz. Natural, Dutched, and Lavado extracts, on Aβ42 and Aβ40 oligomerization, using photo-induced cross-linking of unmodified proteins technique. To assess the effects of cocoa extracts on synaptic function, we measured long term potentiation in mouse brain hippocampal slices exposed to oligomeric Aβ. Results: Our results indicate that cocoa extracts are effective in preventing the oligomerization of Aβ, with Lavado extract being most effective. Lavado extract, but not Dutched extract, was effective in restoring the long term potentiation response reduced by oligomeric Aβ. Conclusion: Our findings indicate that cocoa extracts have multiple disease-modifying properties in AD and present a promising route of therapeutic and/or preventative initiatives.
*William Hurst is a 1975 graduate of YSU with a Master of Science Degree in Chemistry. He currently works as the principal scientist at The Hershey Company.