174 | Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) as a neuroprotective agent in Parkinson’s disease models

Disorders of the Nervous System

Author: Pedro Ballestero | Email: pedroballestero88@gmail.com

Pedro Ballestero , Lorena Tschopp , Hernan Hauche , Sebastian Romano , Melina Bordone , Juan Ferrario , Nara Muraro

1° Instituto de Biociencias, Biotecnología y Biomedicina – FCEyN –UBA.
2° Biomedicine Research Institute of Buenos Aires – CONICET – Partner Institute of the Max Planck Society.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disorder and its hallmark is the gradual deterioration of dopamine-releasing neurons in the Substantia nigra. A study conducted in Argentina uncovered a link between the consumption of yerba mate (YM) and a reduced risk of PD development (Gatto, 2015). Our own investigations have revealed that YM extract exhibits a robust ability to safeguard dopaminergic neurons in vitro (Bernardi, 2019). These findings encourage us to explore whether YM extract could also protect neurons from the detrimental consequences associated with the expression of human alpha synuclein (aSyn) in a Drosophila m. model of PD. We settled down the conditions to feed flies with YM and evaluated both behavioral and molecular parameters. Although we have not observed behavioral changes in YM-treated flies, Western blot analysis exhibited a reduction in the levels of aSyn in flies treated with YM. Moreover, employing the GRASP method, we detected an elevated GFP signal—an indicator of synaptic connections—between a population of dopaminergic and the Ventral Lateral neurons in aging flies feeded with YM, suggesting a potential preservation of synaptic connectivity. Finally, we explored regulation of gene expression for aSyn, AMPK and downstream expression markers of autophagy from fly heads by q-RT-PCR. Our preliminary data shows that YM treatment modulates these genes giving cues about the cellular mechanisms potentially involved.