Researchers found that the green tea polyphenol epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) stops the formation of beta-amyloid plaques — a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease — by interfering with the function of beta-amyloid oligomers.
Lead study author Giuseppe Melacini, of the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at McMaster University in Canada, and colleagues recently reported their findings in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition characterized by a decline in memory and thinking, as well as behavioral problems.
It is estimated that almost 50 million people worldwide are living with the disease. By 2050, this number is expected to rise to 131.5 million.
The precise causes of Alzheimer's disease remain unclear, but it is believed that beta-amyloid plays a key role. This "sticky" protein can clump together, forming plaques that disrupt communication between nerve cells.
In their analysis, Melacini and colleagues found that EGCG "remodels" beta-amyloid oligomers, which stops them from creating harmful plaques.
"At the molecular level," explains Melacini, "we believe EGCG coats toxic oligomers and changes their ability to grow and interact with healthy cells."
These findings not only support previous studies suggesting that EGCG can help to prevent beta-amyloid plaque formation, but they also shed light on the mechanisms underlying this association.