Diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease: can tea phytochemicals play a role in prevention?
School of Medical Sciences
Dementia and diabetes mellitus are prevalent disorders in the elderly population. While recognized as two distinct diseases, diabetes has more recently recognized as a significant contributor to risk for developing dementia, and some studies make reference to type 3 diabetes, a condition resulting from insulin resistance in the brain. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, and diabetes, interestingly, share underlying pathological processes, commonality in risk factors, and, importantly, pathways for intervention. Tea has been suggested to possess potent antioxidant properties. It is rich in phytochemicals including, flavonoids, tannins, caffeine, polyphenols, boheic acid, theophylline, theobromine, anthocyanins, gallic acid, and finally epigallocatechin-3-gallate, which is considered to be the most potent active ingredient. Flavonoid phytochemicals, known as catechins, within tea offer potential benefits for reducing the risk of diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease by targeting common risk factors, including obesity, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. Studies also show that catechins may prevent the formation of amyloid-β plaques and enhance cognitive functions, and thus may be useful in treating patients who have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Furthermore, other phytochemicals found within tea offer important antioxidant properties along with innate properties capable of modulating intracellular neuronal signal transduction pathways and mitochondrial function.