Patrick Yang ’20
Chicoric acid, a common component in chicory and edible plants, such as lettuce and basil, is a known antioxidant that has anti-HIV and anti-obesity qualities. It can also reduce inflammation caused by high-fat diets and is rapidly distributed to tissues, including the brain, after ingestion. Because of its anti-inflammatory trait and ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, it may be able to treat neuroinflammation – a harbinger of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s. In order to observe the effects of chicoric acid supplementation on neurodegeneration, Dr. Xuebo Liu and a team of researchers at Northwest A&F University in China treated mice suffering from neuroinflammation with chicoric acid.
Thirty mice were randomly separated into three groups of ten. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS), which induces neuroinflammation, was injected into two groups, while the third served as a control. One of the groups of injected mice, the chicoric acid treatment group, received 0.05% chicoric acid drinking water for 45 days prior to LPS injection. Two behavioral tests, the Y-maze task and Morris water maze test, were administered four hours after LPS injection to measure cognitive ability. The Y-maze task involved placing the mouse in the center of a closed Y-shaped maze to freely roam the three branches, or arms. The mouse’s numbers of arm entries and spontaneous alternations, or the successive entry of the three different arms, were recorded. In the Morris water maze test, each mouse was placed in a circular water-filled pool. If it found and stood on the maze’s hidden platform, then it successfully completed the test.
The Y-maze task resulted in an insignificant difference involving the number of arm entries in both LPS and control groups. The small range of 23-25 entries suggests that neuroinflammation does not affect motor ability. However, the chicoric acid treatment group had significantly more spontaneous alternations than the untreated LPS group, indicating that the chicoric acid prevented working memory loss. In the case of the Morris water maze test, the treatment group consistently escaped around 10 seconds faster than the untreated LPS group. In other words, chicoric acid supplementation prevented spatial memory impairment.
Further investigation will be needed to apply this research to humans, but regular ingestion of chicoric acid might have curative effects against memory impairment. This adds another item to chicoric acid’s long list of health benefits.
- Q. Liu, et al., Chicoric acid supplementation prevents systemic inflammation-induced memory impairment and amyloidogenesis via inhibition of NF-kB. The FASEB Journal (2016). doi: 1096/fj.201601071R.
- Image retrieved from: https://pixabay.com/en/chicory-flower-blossom-bloom-plant-484277/