Nattokinase is an enzyme extracted from fermented foods; it is normally used as a blood thinner that helps protect blood vessel walls and improves blood pressure in heart patients. Nattokinase may also prevent the build up of amyloid plaques in the brain linked to Alzheimer’s disease according to new research. The enzyme was found to be able to degrade amyloid fibrils; the fine fibers that knit together and contribute to the formation of amyloid plaque that characterizes Alzheimer’s disease, according to results of a lab study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. “The discovery of an enzyme which can be safely taken orally and can degrade amyloid fibrils could be very useful in the therapy of amyloid-related diseases,” wrote the researchers from Taiwans Institute of Biological Chemistry, Academia Sinica, and the National Taiwan University.
The build-up of plaque generated by the renegade protein beta-amyloid, deposit in the brain tissue of Alzheimer’s patients. The plaque is associated with a keen increase in brain cell damage and death of brain tissue due to extreme levels of oxidative stress. This oxidative stress is related to the massive loss of cognitive function seen in Alzheimers disease; the most common form of dementia that currently affects over 13 million people worldwide.
Nattokinase also degraded insulin fibrils, linked to diabetic complications; and prion peptide fibrils, responsible for prion-brain diseases. All of these fibrils are made from amyloid proteins. “Since natto has been ingested by humans for a long time, it would be worthwhile to carry out an epidemiological study on the rate of occurrence of various amyloid-related diseases in a population regularly consuming natto,” the researchers concluded. The study is published in the January 28th, 2009 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.