Pomegranate Power: Compound May Aid Memory in Alzheimer’s

Summary: A new study finds that urolithin A, a substance found in pomegranates, can improve memory and may help treat Alzheimer’s disease. This natural compound works by removing damaged mitochondria from the brain, similar to the effects of NAD supplements. While dosage is still being determined, this discovery offers promising potential for treating and preventing neurodegenerative diseases.

Key Facts:

  • Urolithin A, found in pomegranates, improves memory and may alleviate Alzheimer’s symptoms
  • This substance removes damaged mitochondria from the brain, similar to NAD supplements.
  • Urolithin A is available in pill form, and researchers are working to determine optimal dosage.

Source: University of Copenhagen

A substance naturally occurring in i.a. pomegranates, strawberries and walnuts can improve memory and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, a new study conducted at the University of Copenhagen concludes.

Forgetfulness, difficulty finding words and confusion about time and place. These are some of the most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

This shows pomegranates.
The researchers still don’t know how much urolithin A is needed to improve memory and alleviate symptoms of i.a. Alzheimer’s. Credit: Neuroscience News

Now researchers at the University of Copenhagen have discovered that an ordinary fruit can help.

“Our study on mouse models with AD shows that urolithin A, which is a naturally occurring substance in i.a. pomegranates, can alleviate memory problems and other consequences of dementia,” says Vilhelm Bohr, who is Affiliate Professor at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Copenhagen and prevoiusly Department Chair at the US National Institute on Aging.

This is good news for patients with dementia – a disease that is difficult to treat.

“Even though the study was conducted on mouse models, the prospects are positive. So far, research has shown promising results for the substance in the muscles, and clinical trials on humans are being planned.”

Substance improves brain function

The researchers previously discovered that a specific molecule, nicotinamide riboside (NAD supplement), plays a key role in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as it actively helps remove damaged mitochondria from the brain.

“Many patients with neurodegenerative diseases experience mitochondrial dysfunction, also known as mitophagy. This means that the brain has difficulties removing weak mitochondria, which thus accumulate and affect brain function.

“If you are able to stimulate the mitophagy process, removing weak mitochondria, you will see some very positive results,” Vilhelm Bohr explains.

The results of the new study show that a substance found in pomegranates, urolithin A, removes weak mitochondria from the brain just as effectively as NAD supplement.

Possible preventive effect

The researchers still don’t know how much urolithin A is needed to improve memory and alleviate symptoms of i.a. Alzheimer’s.

“We still cannot say anything conclusive about the dosage. But I imagine that it is more than a pomegranate a day. However, the substance is already available in pill form, and we are currently trying to find the right dosage,” Vilhelm Bohr says.

He also hopes the substance can be used for preventive purposes with no significant side effects.

“The advantage of working with a natural substance is the reduced risk of side effects. Several studies so far show that there are no serious side effects of NAD supplementation.

“Our knowledge of urolithin A is more limited, but as I mentioned, clinical trials with Urolithin A have been effective in muscular disease, and now we need to look at Alzheimers disease. ,” he says and adds:

“If we are going to eat something in the future to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, which we talk a lot about, we have to make sure there are no significant side effects.”

About this memory and Alzheimer’s disease research news

Author: Sascha Rasmussen
Source: University of Copenhagen
Contact: Sascha Rasmussen – University of Copenhagen
Image: The image is credited to Neuroscience News

Original Research: Open access.
Urolithin A improves Alzheimer’s disease cognition and restores mitophagy and lysosomal functions” by Vilhelm Bohr et al. Alzheimer’s & Dementia


Urolithin A improves Alzheimer’s disease cognition and restores mitophagy and lysosomal functions


Compromised autophagy, including impaired mitophagy and lysosomal function, plays pivotal roles in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Urolithin A (UA) is a gut microbial metabolite of ellagic acid that stimulates mitophagy. The effects of UA’s long-term treatment of AD and mechanisms of action are unknown.


We addressed these questions in three mouse models of AD with behavioral, electrophysiological, biochemical, and bioinformatic approaches.


Long-term UA treatment significantly improved learning, memory, and olfactory function in different AD transgenic mice. UA also reduced amyloid beta (Aβ) and tau pathologies and enhanced long-term potentiation. UA induced mitophagy via increasing lysosomal functions. UA improved cellular lysosomal function and normalized lysosomal cathepsins, primarily cathepsin Z, to restore lysosomal function in AD, indicating the critical role of cathepsins in UA-induced therapeutic effects on AD.


Our study highlights the importance of lysosomal dysfunction in AD etiology and points to the high translational potential of UA.

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