Fisetin Protects the Brain from Stress

Thursday, September 19, 2013
By: Byron J. Richards,
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

Fisetin is a flavonoid most commonly found in strawberries. Concentrated extracts of fisetin have gained scientific recognition for their neuroprotection and mood-boosting properties. Over the past few months four new studies continue to illustrate that fisetin is a potent brain-protecting nutrient.

Alpha-synuclein is a nerve protein involved with normal nerve cell function. One aspect of nerve cell malfunction is the undesirable build up of excessive alpha-synuclein proteins, a problem typically seen in Parkinson’s and as part of the plaque formation involved with Alzheimer’s. In essence, a normal amount of alpha-synuclein is not able to do its job, tries harder, is still unable, and builds up in a way that clogs nerve cell function.   

In an experimental model of toxin-induced Parkinson’s disease fisetin was found to lower the levels of alpha-synuclein, providing significant protection against nerve cell death.

Another study tested the ability of fisetin to protect against nerve damage in animals subjected to high levels of brain-toxic aluminum chloride. Exposure to this known neurotoxin cased mice to rapidly deplete multiple antioxidant enzymes in the brain, followed by inflammatory brain damage and adverse behavioral changes. Pretreatment of mice with fisetin for four weeks maintained antioxidant enzymes in the brain and reduced brain damage and pathology – demonstrating potent neuroprotection from toxins.

A recent gene signaling study showed that fisetin turned on genes that directly boost the core antioxidant enzyme system that protects nerve cells, glutathione. Since a variety of stressors can lower glutathione levels and expose nerve cells to damage, this study indicates that fisetin can boost nerve cell tolerance for many types of stress.

The most recent study showed that fisetin could protect the brain from toxic exposure to LPS, the common bacterial toxin in human gut imbalances that is typical in overweight people. Once again, it maintained antioxidant defense systems including glutathione. And interestingly, this study showed that fisetin helped boost BDNF, the powerful nerve rejuvenation signal that helps to maintain cognitive function.

The simple fact of the matter is that we live in a polluted and toxic world where exposure to a wide variety of toxic substances that may enter the brain is common. Accumulation of toxic insults to the nervous system over the years is bound to take a toll. Fisetin is staking its claim as an excellent nerve protecting nutrient in the face of toxic exposure.

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