The Use of Flavonoids as a Potential Alzheimer’s Treatment

Presenter: Caleb Lay ’20 | Major: Biological Sciences & Chemistry

Mentor: Caitlin Deskins, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry

Abstract: With more than 3 million cases diagnosed in the United States each year, Alzheimer’s disease remains an unrelenting diagnosis that affects many, including family members and caretakers of the affected. While no effective treatment has been shown to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s or prevent its origination, the mechanism behind the disease has been elucidated in part. When amyloid precursor protein begins to break down in the brain, as beta-amyloid, it is typically eliminated through “housekeeping” functions. When beta-amyloid begins to aggregate, however, these clumps lead to neural breakdown and general dysfunction, characteristic to the effects elicited in Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid precursor protein is broken down by the enzyme BACE1.

When BACE1 cuts too frequently or imprecisely, many insoluble strands of beta-amyloid are produced, resulting in clumps and an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Our research team hypothesized that if BACE1 were to cut less frequently, then less beta-amyloid plaques would form, and less overall neural dysfunction. Through computational protein docking software, we have investigated the theoretical interactions of various plant flavonoids and BACE1 in order to assess if flavonoids may provide interest for further investigation as a drug of choice for treating Alzheimer’s disease.