Green kiwifruit extracts protect motor neurons from death in a spinal muscular atrophy model in Caenorhabditis elegans


Kiwifruit is considered a functional food and a good source of nutraceuticals. Among the possible beneficial effects of kiwifruit species, a neuroprotective activity exerted in rats with learning and memory impairment induced by exposure to different chemicals was reported. In this study, the authors sought to investigate the neuroprotective activities of kiwifruit toward spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). To this purpose, the authors have used a recently developed Caenorhabditis elegans SMA model, displaying an age-dependent degeneration of motor neurons detected as locomotory defects, disappearance of fluorescent markers, and apoptotic death of targeted neurons. Although an anti-nematode activity is reported for kiwifruit, it has been verified that neither green (Actinidia deliciosa, cultivar Hayward) nor gold (Actinidia chinensis, cultivar Hort 16A) kiwifruit extracts cause detectable effects on wild-type C. elegans growth and life cycle. Conversely, green kiwifruit extracts have a clear effect on the C. elegans SMA model by partially rescuing the degeneration and death of motor neurons and the locomotion impairment. The gold species does not show the same effect. The components responsible for the neuroprotection are macromolecules with a molecular weight higher than 3 kDa, present in the green and not in the yellow kiwifruit. In conclusion, this is the first study reporting a protective activity of green kiwifruit toward motor neurons. In addition, it has been demonstrated that C. elegans is an animal model suitable to study the biological activities contained in kiwifruit. Therefore, this model can be exploited for future investigations aimed at identifying kiwifruit molecules with potential applications in the field of human health.

Authors: Mazzarella N, Giangrieco I, Visone S, Santonicola P, Achenbach J, Zampi G, Tamburrini M, Di Schiavi E, Ciardiello MA.
; Full Source: Food Science & Nutrition. 2019 Jun 17;7(7):2327-2335. doi: 10.1002/fsn3.1078. eCollection 2019 Jul.