Ursolic acid in the peel may help reverse neuronal damage

- Aug 03, 2020-

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Found that a compound in the peels of fruits such as apples and plums and some herbs can reduce or even reverse multiple sclerosis (MS) patients Brain cell damage.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease characterized by increased muscle weakness and paralysis. If implemented early, there are a variety of treatments that can help delay the progression of the disease, but these methods rarely reverse the damage that has already occurred in brain cells.Ursolic acid, a natural triterpenoid found in this study, may reverse the damage even in the late stages of disease development.

It is understood that the researchers used laboratory-grade purified ursolic acid to test mice with MS disease. According to the researchers, many studies have been conducted on mice in the acute phase, when the disease has just begun or is at its peak. On the contrary, once chronic damage has been caused to the tissues of the central nervous system, the study will test whether the compound is effective for chronic diseases.

Researchers use established mouse models of MS to mimic human diseases and slowly develop diseases during their lives. About the 12th day, when the mice showed signs of partial paralysis of MS and the currently available drugs were most effective, the mice began the acute phase of the disease. However, the researchers started to treat the mice on the 60th day, when chronic tissue damage to the brain and spinal cord had already formed and needed repair and regeneration.


The researchers treated the mice for 60 days and began to see improvement on the 20th day of treatment. The mice that were paralyzed at the beginning of the experiment were weak, but later regained their ability to walk. In this regard, Professor Zhang said that this is not a cure, but if similar reactions can be seen in people, it will represent a major change in the quality of life. Most importantly, this is a reversal that researchers have never seen before, especially at such a late stage of the disease.

The researchers also studied how ursolic acid acts on cells. They observed that ursolic acid inhibits Th17 cells. Th17 cells are a kind of rabbit disease cells and are one of the main drivers of the pathological autoimmune response of MS. Currently, many effective therapies seem to inhibit this cell. But the researchers proved that this compound can activate precursor cells to mature into myelin-producing cells, or oligodendrocytes.

According to the researchers, this maturation effect is the most critical. The number of oligodendrocytes that produce myelin in MS is reduced, and the stem cells that produce new oligodendrocytes are in a dormant state and cannot mature. The compound ursolic acid helps to activate these stem cells and make them generate new oligodendrocytes, which may be the reason for the reversal of symptoms.