Researchers tap into nature’s way of clearing waste to treat Alzheimer’s disease

Presuming that the long form of the aquaporin-4 protein increases waste clearance, the researchers screened over 2,560 compounds to determine, which of them might increase aquaporin’s readthrough. However, they found only two. One was sulphaquinoxaline, an antibiotic commonly used in the meat and poultry industry while the other was apigenin, a component found in chamomile, parsley, onions, and other plants.

The researchers then tested these two compounds for their ability to clear beta amyloids from the brains of mice genetically modified to have high protein levels. Both these substances could remove beta-amyloid from mice brains faster than control liquids that the researchers used in their experiments.

The researchers think that the same strategy could be applied to clear alpha-synuclein, the protein attributed to the development of Parkinson’s disease. While sulphaquinoxaline is not meant for human consumption, the researchers have also warned against trying to consume apigenin either in supplement form or through edible plants to keep Alzheimer’s away.

This is the beginning of the research, and more work must be done before it is used as a treatment or prevention. The findings of the study were published in the journal Brain.


Alzheimer’s disease is initiated by the toxic aggregation of amyloid-β. Immunotherapeutics aimed at reducing amyloid beta are in clinical trials but with very limited success to date. Identification of orthogonal approaches for clearing amyloid beta may complement these approaches for treating Alzheimer’s disease. In the brain, the astrocytic water channel Aquaporin 4 is involved in clearance of amyloid beta, and the fraction of Aquaporin 4 found perivascularly is decreased in Alzheimer’s disease. Further, an unusual stop codon readthrough event generates a conserved C-terminally elongated variant of Aquaporin 4 (AQP4X), which is exclusively perivascular. However, it is unclear whether the AQP4X variant specifically mediates amyloid beta clearance.

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