Yet Another Role for Aspirin

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Aspirin and salicylic acid derivatives could help fight against a number of neurodegenerative diseases, according to new research published in PLOS One.

Plants have been used for healing throughout history. Plant and herb-based medicine is still a primary form of treatment worldwide.

Around 50% of the pharmaceuticals developed over the past 20 years and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are either natural products or synthetic derivatives of natural products, mainly derived from plants.

Salicylic acid (SA) and its derivatives are a prime example. SA is the critical hormone for regulating the plant immune system. It is also the primary breakdown product of acetyl SA or aspirin. SA and its derivatives have been used for thousands of years to reduce pain,fever, and inflammation.

Americans alone consume 80 million aspirin tablets daily, and present-day targets of use include heart attack, stroke and certaincancers.

Senior author Daniel Klessig, a professor at Boyce Thompson Institute – Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, has studied the actions of SA for a long time, mostly focusing on plants.

Several targets in plants that are affected by SA have been identified in previous studies; many of these targets have equivalents in humans.

Role for aspirin in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s?

Now it seems that SA’s impressive repertoire could expand to include Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease; one of its components has been found to bind to an enzyme called Glyceraldehyde 3-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (GAPDH), a culprit in these diseases.

GAPDH is a central enzyme in glucose metabolism but performs additional roles within the cell such as signaling.

Oxidative stress, which results from a lack of oxygen being delivered to the brain, is believed to contribute to these diseases. It leads to an excess of free radicals and other reactive compounds.

In these conditions, GAPDH is modified and enters the nucleus of neurons where it enhances protein turnover, leading to cell death.

The anti-Parkinson’s drug deprenyl works by preventing GAPHD from entering into the nucleus.

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