Active ingredients from coffee grounds – or the caffeic acid they contain – could be used against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Now so-called quantum dots have been made from coffee grounds, which can effectively protect brain cells.
A study involving experts from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) examined how so-called caffeic acid-based carbon quantum dots influence pesticide-induced neurodegeneration of the Parkinson’s phenotype. The results are published in the specialist journal “Environmental Research”.
Pesticides promote neurodegenerative diseases
Previous studies have linked pesticides to the occurrence and pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. There is still no cure for both diseases today.
According to the researchers, a major problem in treatment is the so-called blood-brain barrier, which cannot be penetrated by many important active ingredients. Therefore, there is an urgent need for therapeutic agents against neurodegenerative diseases that are able to overcome the blood-brain barrier.
According to the researchers, carbon quantum dots based on caffeic acid could represent the solution.
Quantum dots protect against oxidative stress
Pesticides can trigger neurodegenerative stress, which causes neuronal damage. The caffeic acid-based carbon quantum dots created by the team serve as effective radical scavengers to regulate oxidative stress.
In laboratory experiments, the researchers managed to protect so-called SH-SY5Y cells (a human neuroblastoma cell line) from neuronal damage caused by oxidative stress caused by the herbicide paraquat using carbon quantum dots. Paraquat is now banned in many countries because of its high human toxicity.
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According to the researchers, the study results indicate that potentially blood-brain barrier-penetrating quantum dots derived from caffeic acid hold promise in mitigating neurodegenerative disorders associated with environmental pesticides and xenobiotic neurotoxicants.
Hope for new treatment options
The effect of caffeic acid quantum dots on neurodegenerative pathologies should now be investigated in further preclinical studies, whereby overcoming the blood-brain barrier also needs to be analyzed in more detail, emphasizes the research team.
If further investigations are successful, the result could be the development of a drug that offers an effective way to prevent or even cure neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. (as)