Oleocanthal-rich extra-virgin olive oil enhances donepezil effect by reducing amyloid-β load and related toxicity in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease

J Nutr Biochem. 2018 May;55:113-123. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2017.12.006. Epub 2017 Dec 27.


Previous evidence suggested that extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is linked to attenuating amyloid-β (Aβ) pathology and improving cognitive function in Alzheimer's disease (AD) mouse models. In addition, we recently reported the beneficial effect of oleocanthal, a phenolic compound in EVOO, against AD pathology. Currently, medications available to target AD pathology are limited. Donepezil is an acetylcholine esterase inhibitor approved for use for all AD stages. Donepezil has been reported to have limited Aβ-targeting mechanisms beside its acetylcholine esterase inhibition. The aim of this study was to investigate the consumption of EVOO rich with oleocanthal (hereafter EVOO) as a medical food on enhancing the effect of donepezil on attenuating Aβ load and related toxicity in 5xFAD mouse model of AD. Our results showed that EVOO consumption in combination with donepezil significantly reduced Aβ load and related pathological changes. Reduced Aβ load could be explained, at least in part, by enhancing Aβ clearance pathways including blood-brain barrier (BBB) clearance and enzymatic degradation, and shifting amyloid precursor protein processing toward the nonamyloidogenic pathway. Furthermore, EVOO combination with donepezil up-regulated synaptic proteins, enhanced BBB tightness and reduced neuroinflammation associated with Aβ pathology. In conclusion, EVOO consumption as a medical food combined with donepezil offers an effective therapeutic approach by enhancing the noncholinergic mechanisms of donepezil and by providing additional mechanisms to attenuate Aβ-related pathology in AD patients.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Amyloid-β; Blood–brain barrier; Donepezil; EVOO; Oleocanthal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter 1 / metabolism
  • Acetylcholine / metabolism
  • Aldehydes / pharmacology
  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism*
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / drug effects
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cyclopentane Monoterpenes
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Donepezil / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology
  • Olive Oil / chemistry
  • Olive Oil / pharmacology*
  • PPAR gamma / metabolism
  • Phenols / pharmacology


  • ABCA1 protein, mouse
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter 1
  • Aldehydes
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • Antioxidants
  • Cyclopentane Monoterpenes
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Olive Oil
  • PPAR gamma
  • Phenols
  • Donepezil
  • oleocanthal
  • Acetylcholine