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Tobacco-derived compound prevents memory loss in Alzheimer's disease mice
Date:4/27/2011

Tampa, FL (For immediate release) -- Cotinine, a compound derived from tobacco, reduced plaques associated with dementia and prevented memory loss in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease, a study led by researchers at Bay Pines VA Healthcare System and the University of South Florida found.

The findings are reported online in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease in advance of print publication.

"We found a compound that protects neurons, prevents the progression of Alzheimer's disease pathology, enhances memory and has been shown to be safe," said Valentina Echeverria, PhD, a scientist at Bay Pines VA Healthcare System and an assistant professor of Molecular Medicine at USF Health. "It looks like cotinine acts on several aspects of Alzheimer's pathology in the mouse model. That, combined with the drug's good safety profile in humans, makes it a very attractive potential therapy for Alzheimer's disease."

While the current drugs for Alzheimer's may help delay the onset of symptoms, none halt or reverse the processes of Alzheimer's disease. In addition, existing drugs may have undesirable side effects.

Some epidemiological studies showed that people who smoke tend to have lower incidences of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. Studies have widely attributed this apparently beneficial effect to nicotine, which has been reported to improve memory and reduce Alzheimer's-like plaques in mice. However, nicotine's harmful cardiovascular effects and addictive properties make the compound a less than ideal drug candidate for neurodegenerative diseases.

The Bay Pines VA/USF team decided to look at the effects of cotinine, the major byproduct of nicotine metabolism, in Alzheimer's disease mice. Cotinine is nontoxic and longer lasting than nicotine. Furthermore, its safety has already been demonstrated in human trials evaluating cotinine's potential to relieve tobacco withdrawal symptoms.

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Contact: Anne DeLotto Baier
abaier@health.usf.edu
813-974-3300
University of South Florida (USF Health)
Source:Eurekalert  

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