Beneficial Effects of Sideritis scardica and Cichorium spinosum against Amyloidogenic Pathway and Tau Misprocessing in Alzheimer's Disease Neuronal Cell Culture Models

J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;64(3):787-800. doi: 10.3233/JAD-170862.


Background: Natural products are a significantly underutilized source of potential treatments against human disease. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a prime example of conditions that could be amenable to such treatments as suggested by recent findings.

Objective: Aiming to identify novel potentially therapeutic approaches against AD, we assessed the effects of Cichorium spinosum and Sideritis scardica extracts, both distinct components of the Mediterranean diet.

Methods/results: After the detailed characterization of the extracts' composition using LC-HRMS methods, they were evaluated on two AD neuronal cell culture models, namely the AβPP overexpressing SH-SY5Y-AβPP and the hyperphosphorylated tau expressing PC12-htau. Initially their effect on cell viability of SH-SY5Y and PC12 cells was examined, and subsequently their downstream effects on AβPP and tau processing pathways were investigated in the SH-SY5Y-AβPP and PC12-htau cells. We found that the S. scardica and C. spinosum extracts have similar effects on tau, as they both significantly decrease total tau, the activation of the GSK3β, ERK1 and/or ERK2 kinases of tau, as well as tau hyperphosphorylation. Furthermore, both extracts appear to promote AβPP processing through the alpha, non-amyloidogenic pathway, albeit through partly different mechanisms.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that C. spinosum and S. scardica could have a notable potential in the prevention and/or treatment of AD, and merit further investigations at the in vivo level.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Cichorium spinosum; Mediterranean diet; Sideritis scardica; amyloid; amyloidosis; mountain tea; neurodegenerative diseases; prevention; tauopathies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / genetics
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / metabolism
  • Amyloidogenic Proteins / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Asteraceae / chemistry
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Neuroblastoma / pathology
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • PC12 Cells
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Sideritis / chemistry
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Time Factors
  • Transfection
  • tau Proteins / genetics
  • tau Proteins / metabolism*


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • Amyloidogenic Proteins
  • Plant Extracts
  • tau Proteins