28 May 2013, BioSpectrum Bureau , BioSpectrum
Singapore: Scientists at University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) have discovered that cinnamaldehyde and epicatechin compounds found in cinnamon, can prevent development of plaques that are found in the brains of people suffering from Alzheimer's disease. The study has been published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
Cinnamaldehyde, which is the compound in cinnamon that gives the spice its distinct color and taste, prevents tau protein from forming knots in the brain. Cinnamaldehyde attaches to the two residues of cysteine, an amino acid vulnerable to modifications, thus preventing in formation of the knots.
Tau protein plays an important role in maintaining the structure and function of the nerve cells. The problem with tau in Alzheimer's is that it starts aggregating..
Dr Donald Graves, adjunct professor, Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, UCSB, said that, "Take, for example, sunburn, a form of oxidative damage. If you wore a hat, you could protect your face and head from the oxidation. In a sense this cinnamaldehyde is like a cap. While it can protect the tau protein by binding to its vulnerable cysteine residues, it can also come off, which can ensure the proper functioning of the protein."