Parkinson's disease (PD) is an age-related neurodegenerative disease associated with the misfolding and aggregation of alpha-synuclein (aSyn). The molecular underpinnings of PD are still obscure, but nutrition may play an important role in the prevention, onset, and disease progression. Dietary (poly)phenols revert and prevent age-related cognitive decline and neurodegeneration in model systems. However, only limited attempts were made to evaluate the impact of digestion on the bioactivities of (poly)phenols and determine their mechanisms of action. This constitutes a challenge for the development of (poly)phenol-based nutritional therapies. Here, we subjected (poly)phenols from Arbutus unedo to in vitro digestion and tested the products in cell models of PD based on the cytotoxicity of aSyn. The (poly)phenol-digested metabolites from A. unedo leaves (LPDMs) effectively counteracted aSyn and H2O2 toxicity in yeast and human cells, improving viability by reducing aSyn aggregation and inducing its clearance. In addition, LPDMs modulated pathways associated with aSyn toxicity, such as oxidative stress, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, mitochondrial impairment, and SIR2 expression. Overall, LPDMs reduced aSyn toxicity, enhanced the efficiency of ER-associated protein degradation by the proteasome and autophagy, and reduced oxidative stress. In total, our study opens novel avenues for the exploitation of (poly)phenols in nutrition and health.
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