Ursolic Acid Might Keep The Doctor Away | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 89 Issue 25 | p. 2 | Concentrates
Issue Date: June 20, 2011

Ursolic Acid Might Keep The Doctor Away

Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: DNA sequencing, pyrosequencing, fluorescence

A polycyclic natural product called ursolic acid that’s found in large amounts in apple peels might be just what the doctor should order to treat age- and disease-related muscle atrophy, according to a University of Iowa study (Cell Metab., DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2011.03.020). A team led by Christopher M. Adams monitored gene activity in the muscles of people and mice that were fasting in order to study muscle weakening. The researchers then compared mRNA expression signatures with the response of cells to some 1,300 bioactive molecules. They singled out ursolic acid as a lone inhibitor of atrophy-associated gene expression. The researchers next gave ursolic acid to mice and observed that it helps protect fasting mice against muscle weakening and helps mice with a normal diet grow muscle. The mice also became leaner and had lower blood levels of glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides. It seems the adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” might have real therapeutic merit, Adams says.

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