Istituto di Biomedicina ed Immunologia Molecolare (IBIM)-CNR, via Ugo La Malfa 153, 90146, Palermo, Italy.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive, neurodegenerative disorder, characterized by loss of memory and impairment of multiple cognitive functions. Amyloid beta peptide (Aβ) is the main component of amyloid plaques observed in the brain of individuals affected by AD. Oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction, induced by Aβ, are among the earliest events in AD, triggering neuronal degeneration and cell death. Use of natural molecules with antioxidant properties could be a suitable strategy for inhibiting the cell death cascade. Here, by employing the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus as a model system, and Aβ oligomers, we tested the effectiveness of ferulic acid (FA), a natural antioxidant, as a putative AD neuroprotective compound. By microscopic inspection we observed that FA is able to reverse morphological defects induced by Aβ oligomers in P. lividus embryos. In addition, FA is able to neutralize reactive oxygen species (ROS), recover mitochondrial membrane potential, and block apoptotic pathways. Moreover, this model system has allowed us to obtain information about down- or up-regulation of some key molecules-Foxo3a, ERK, and p53-involved in the antioxidant mechanism
Ferulic acid is a hydroxycinnamic acid, a type of organic compound. It is an abundant phenolic phytochemical found in plant cell wall components such as arabinoxylans as covalent side chains. It is related to trans-cinnamic acid. As a component of lignin, ferulic acid is a precursor in the manufacture of other aromatic compounds. The etymology is from the genus Ferula, referring to the giant fennel (Ferula communis).