Parkinson’s disease (PD) has been shown to be the result of deterioration of cells in a part of the brain (Substantia nigra) which produces dopamine (DA), with resulting DA depletion. The involved cells show evidence for oxidative stress.
Fava beans (Vicia faba) and other plants contain steroid plant growth regulators called brassinosteroids (BR), which alter plant metabolism. They alter protein production, growth, enzyme activity, fruit size, and reduce plant stress and disease. BRs are antioxidants in tomatoes, rice and other plants. BRs have been shown to be antioxidant and anticancer agents for mammals.
Fava beans contain L-dopa (L-3,4-dihydroxypenylalanine) a precursor of dopamine (DA) and the best treatment for PD. The authors believe that the antioxidant effects of fava beans must be important because the L-dopa levels of the beans are too low to explain the response in PD patients.
The authors studied the effect of one BR from Vicia faba and the ability to prevent apoptosis, as well as the ability alter SOD (serum oxide dysmutase), CAT (catalase), GPx (glutathione peroxidase) and ROS (reactive oxygen species) levels. It was clearly shown that the BR from Vicia faba was able to protect brain cells from oxidative damage and may serve as therapy or a preventative of neurodegenerative diseases, such as PD.
CONCLUSION: The BR extracted from fava beans (Vicia faba) was able to reverse neuronal cell death by apoptosis by as much as 60%. The BR prevented oxidative stress and prevented the production of reactive oxygen species. Fava beans contain chemicals which are neuroprotective and may be protective in Parkinson’s disease (PD). BR can pass through the blood-brain barrier and protect the DA (dopamine) producing cells.
The BR extract used in this study was 24-Epi, which is found in Vicia faba and other vegetables.
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