Dr Pratic said: “In these mice, normal tau protein turns defective and accumulates in the brain, forming harmful tau deposits, also called tangles. Tau deposits, similar to amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s disease, block neuron communication and thereby impair thinking and memory, resulting in frontotemporal dementia.”
In the study, Tau mice were put on a diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil at a young age, comparable to humans aged between 30 and 40.
Six months later, when mice were the equivalent of age 60 in humans, tauopathy-prone animals experienced a 60 percent reduction in damaging tau deposits, compared to littermates that were not fed extra virgin olive oil. Animals on the extra virgin olive oil diet also performed better on memory and learning tests than animals deprived of the oil.
When Dr. Pratic and colleagues examined brain tissue from extra virgin olive oil-fed mice, they found that improved brain function was likely facilitated by healthier synapse function.