Nattokinase May Support Memory and Inhibit a Protein Implicated in Mad Cow Disease
An enzyme extracted from fermented soy known as Nattokinase, well documented with evidence of its ability to dissolve clots and thus play a role in cardiovascular health, is now being studied for another set of abilities.
When beta-amyloid plaque accumulates in the brain there is an increase in brain cell damage and death from oxidative stress. This results in cognitive dysfunction and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid fibrils contribute to the formation of amyloid plaque and also are involved in prion diseases, such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease).
In one of the first investigations to explore nattokinase’s effect on amyloid plaque, researchers studied the enzyme’s action against three types of amyloid fibrils: A-beta-40 fibrils, linked to Alzheimer’s; insulin fibrils, linked to diabetic complications; and prion peptide fibrils, responsible for prion diseases. The researchers reported that nattokinase was able to degrade all three different amyloid fibrils.
According to the scientists, “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.”
Hsu RL, Lee KT, Wang JH, Lee LY, Chen RP. Amyloid-degrading ability of nattokinase from Bacillus subtilis natto. J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Jan 28;57(2):503-8.