Hidrox, a compound extracted from olives, can significantly ease Parkinson’s motor symptoms, reduce alpha synuclein buildup, and slow neurodegeneration in animal models of the disease, a recent study has found.
Though Hidrox is known mostly for its antioxidant effects, its benefits in Parkinson’s went beyond a decline in oxidative stress; brain inflammation, inflammasome signaling, and programmed cell death were all reduced after treatment with this compound.
The study, “Anti-inflammatory and Anti-oxidant Activity of Hidrox in Rotenone-Induced Parkinson’s Disease in Mice,” was published in the journal Antioxidants.
While much remains to unravel in Parkinson’s disease, evidence suggests that oxidative stress (the imbalance between the production and clearance of toxic reactive species that are harmful to cells), brain inflammation, and mitochondria malfunction are three major factors contributing to the development and progression of the disease.
In recent years, a molecule found in olive oil, hydroxytyrosol, has gained increasing interest due to its major antioxidant properties. “Hydroxytyrosol has the highest value of antioxidant capacity ever measured,” the researchers wrote.
Recent studies demonstrated it also has anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects, suggesting it could be a promising approach to reduce the oxidative stress and nerve cell damage observed in Parkinson’s.
Hidrox, manufactured by Oliphenol, is an aqueous (watery) extract of olive containing about 40–50% hydroxytyrosol. Thanks to a unique manufacturing process, all the essential elements in Hidrox remain intact in their natural matrix.
Researchers based in Italy and the U.S. sought to determine if this compound could prevent the neurodegenerative processes in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease.
Rotenone, a pesticide known to inhibit the function of mitochondria and to induce oxidative stress, was used to induce Parkinson’s-like symptoms in animals. Rotenone was given orally for a period of four weeks. During that time, some animals also received daily Hidrox injections into the abdominal cavity.
“Our study does not aim to evaluate a treatment for the cure of PD [Parkinson’s disease] but to demonstrate that the use of natural compounds, such as HD [Hidrox], could prevent the neurodegenerative process typical of this pathology,” the researchers wrote.
The research was done in male animals only, as Parkinson’s is more common in men and men have different symptoms and disease course than women.
Rotenone induced several Parkinson’s-related motor symptoms in mice, including slow movements (bradykinesia), poor motor function, and muscle stiffness. Mice also showed accumulation of alpha synuclein clumps in dopamine-producing neurons and loss of nerve cells in the brain.
Treatment with Hidrox, however, significantly eased all these manifestations, though mice still showed more Parkinson’s-associated symptoms and brain modifications than healthy mice.
Researchers then found that Hidrox was exerting its effects through a variety of mechanisms. First, it increased the levels of the Nrf2 antioxidant protein, a crucial mechanism of resistance to oxidative stress and inflammation.
It also raised the levels of proteins involved in preserving protein stability and in balancing the production and clearance of toxic reactive species. One such protein, Hsp70, helps other proteins acquire their normal 3D shape — likely helping to counteract the misfolding of alpha-synuclein and its toxic clumping.
Finally, Hidrox lowered inflammatory molecules in the brain, and reduced inflammasome signaling – inflammasomes are groups of proteins that act together to drive inflammation in response to certain molecular triggers. It also restored the levels of molecules involved in programmed cell death (apoptosis).
“Our results have shown that [Hidrox] is able to act not only on oxidative stress but also on the inflammatory response, apoptosis and inflammasomes, thus containing the accumulation of [alpha]-synuclein, the loss of dopaminergic neurons and the behavioral deficits,” the researchers wrote.
“Therefore Hidrox represents an effective nutritional product that could be used as a preventive agent in the neurodegenerative process characteristic of PD [Parkinson’s disease],” they added.
Further studies are now required to further understand the molecular alterations induced by Hidrox, and whether its benefits also extend to female animals.
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