Home » Key Scientific Articles » Effects of olive polyphenols administration on nerve growth factor and brain-derived neurotrophic factor in the mouse brain.

Effects of olive polyphenols administration on nerve growth factor and brain-derived neurotrophic factor in the mouse brain.

De Nicoló S, Tarani L, Ceccanti M, Maldini M, Natella F, Vania A, Chaldakov GN, Fiore M.

Nutrition. 2013 Apr;29(4):681-7.

Istituto di Biologia Cellulare e Neurobiologia, CNR, Rome, Italy.





Polyphenols are chemicals derived from plants known to possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. High intake of fruit and vegetables is believed to be beneficial to human health. Various studies have suggested that dietary polyphenols may protect against cancer and cardiometabolic and neurodegenerative diseases. Nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) are neurotrophins that play key roles in brain cell development, growth, and survival. The aim of this study was to investigate whether or not administration of olive (Olea europaea L.) polyphenols could have an effect on NGF and BDNF content and the expression of their receptors, TrkA and TrkB, respectively, in the mousebrain.


NGF and BDNF were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. TrkA and TrkB were measured by Western blotting.


We found NGF and BDNF elevation in the hippocampus and olfactory bulbs and a decrease in the frontal cortex and striatum. These data were associated with potentiated expression of TrkA and TrkB in the hippocampus and olfactory bulbs but no differences between groups in the striatum and frontal cortex. Polyphenols did not affect some behavioral mouse parameters associated with stressing situations.


Altogether, this study shows that olive polyphenols in the mouse may increase the levels of NGF and BDNF in crucial areas of the limbic system and olfactory bulbs, which play a key role in learning and memory processes and in the proliferation and migration of endogenous progenitor cells present in the rodent brain.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.



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Additional Information:

For millennia, people who inhabit the lands of the Mediterranean basin, by the mild climate and fertile land, have produced wine and olive oil. In Ancient Greece, oil extract by olive (Olea europaea L.) was so precious that the winners of the Olympic Games were crowned with olive leaf wreaths to receive the precious liquid as gift. The healing and beneficial properties of olive oil were so famous that Hippocrates, the father of medicine, called it “the best medicine”, while Homer described it as the “liquid gold”. Recently, thanks to the science advancement and to the growing awareness that a healthy diet can prevent many diseases, we are rediscovering and appreciating the olive oil properties. The scientific community is now focusing on polyphenols, molecules present in plants and in products plants-derived. For example, polyphenols are present in the grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) and in red wine in form of tannins (resveratrol), in the tea plant (Camellia sinensis L.) and blueberry (Vaccinum myrtillus L.) there are flavonoids, while in the cocoa plant (Theobroma cacao L.) and dark chocolate dominate the catechins. Olive polyohenols are called biophenols: the hydroxytirosol and the oleuropein are in leaves, branches, water waste crusher, oil and olive pulp. The olive oil also contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acid, vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D and E, furthemore it is a source of iron and potassium. The European Food Safety Authority and the Food and Drugs Administration have recognized the properties of olive oil and have approved its daily consumption: two tablespoons of raw oil per day may prevent cardiovascular diseases, protect against inflammation and especially counteract oxidative damage induced by free radicals. For this reason, it has been hypothesized a possible protective role of polyphenols against pathologies characterized by excess production of free radicals (tumors, neurodegenerative diseases…).

In the present study, we studied how olive polyphenols may increase the levels of best know neurotrophins: Nerve Growth Factor and Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor in the mouse limbic system and in the olfactory bulbs. Neurotrophins are polypeptides, belonging to growth factors, able to stimulate neuron growth, development, proliferation, survival and differentiation in the mammalian brain. They are produced by different cells located in the central and peripheral nervous systems, immune and endocrine systems. Based on these data, we suggest that olive polyphenols may potentiate brain neurogenesis, protect the brain against age-related neurodegeneration and have an action as brain anti-aging.


Effects of olive polyphenols administration on nerve growth factor and brain-derived neurotrophic factor in the mouse brain11