17-May-2019 - American Chemical Society (ACS)

Ragweed compounds could protect nerve cells from Alzheimer's

As spring arrives in the northern hemisphere, many people are cursing ragweed, a primary culprit in seasonal allergies. But scientists might have discovered a promising new use for some substances produced by the pesky weed. In ACS' Journal of Natural Products, researchers have identified and characterized ragweed compounds that could help nerve cells survive in the presence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) peptides.

Those with AD, a neurodegenerative disorder, often have impaired judgment, cognition, memory and behavior. Scientists have linked AD to the accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides in the brain, which form plaques that kill nerve cells. Unfortunately, the five drugs currently approved for AD treatment only delay disease progression for a short time. When Won Keun Oh and colleagues screened 300 natural plant extracts for activity against AD in a preliminary study, they found a surprising candidate: Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed). This invasive weed, native to North America, has now spread to South America, Asia and much of Europe. Oh and colleagues decided to isolate and characterize the structures of ragweed compounds responsible for this neuroprotective activity.

The researchers isolated 14 compounds from whole ragweed plants that appeared to protect neurons from Aβ-induced toxicity. They determined the structures of the compounds with nuclear magnetic resonance, mass spectrometry and other analytical techniques. Seven of the chemicals, including terpenoids and spermidine conjugates, had been described previously, but the remainder were newly identified terpenoids. When the researchers added the two most active new compounds to a lab dish that contained neurons producing Aβ, about 20 percent more cells survived than without treatment.

Facts, background information, dossiers
More about American Chemical Society
  • News

    Cellular nanosponges could soak up SARS-CoV-2

    Scientists are working overtime to find an effective treatment for COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Many of these efforts target a specific part of the virus, such as the spike protein. Now, researchers reporting in Nano Letters have taken a different approac ... more

    Detecting antibodies with glowing proteins, thread and a smartphone

    To defend the body, the immune system makes proteins known as antibodies that latch onto the perceived threat, be it HIV, the new coronavirus or, as is the case in autoimmune disease, part of the body itself. In a new proof-of-concept study in ACS Sensors, researchers describe a new system ... more

    Synthetic red blood cells mimic natural ones, and have new abilities

    Scientists have tried to develop synthetic red blood cells that mimic the favorable properties of natural ones, such as flexibility, oxygen transport and long circulation times. But so far, most artificial red blood cells have had one or a few, but not all, key features of the natural versi ... more

  • Videos

    What Makes Rubber Rubbery?

    Reactions is looking at sports science today. Sports balls owe their reliability to an unusual polymer. Learn about the chemistry of rubber the all-star’s best friend! more

    Dragon's Blood Could Save Your Life

    This week Reactions is looking at chemistry in bizarre places that could save your life. The science within the blood of the Komodo dragon or in a horseshoe crab can help with antibiotic resistance. But it doesn't end there, so we're taking a closer look at other wild places in nature that ... more

    Why is Olive Oil Awesome?

    Whether you sop it up with bread or use it to boost your cooking, olive oil is awesome. But a lot of chemistry goes on in that bottle that can make or break a product. Take the “extra virgin” standard: Chemistry tells us that a higher free-fatty-acid content leads to a lower grade, less tas ... more

More about Seoul National University