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Olive Oil Improves Restricted Blood Supply

MESSINA, Italy—Consuming a diet high in polyphenol-rich olive oil may significantly reduce intestinal ischemia (restricted blood supply) and the resulting reperfusion injury (tissue damage caused when blood supply returns), according to a new study published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.

According to researchers at the  University of Messina oleuropein aglycone is the most prominent polyphenol found in olive oil and could become a novel therapeutic target aimed at treating intestinal ischemia and reperfusion injury in humans. They said their research could lead to therapeutic benefits for patients with spinal cord injuries, arthritis and pleurisy, as well as those suffering from intestinal ischemia/reperfusion.

For the study, the researchers used four groups of mice. The first group was subjected to intestinal ischemia by splanchnic arterial occlusion (SAO) followed by reperfusion. The second group was the same as the first, but also was administered oleuropein aglycone. The third group of mice underwent identical surgical procedures except for SAO shock and was kept under anesthesia for the duration of the experiment. The last group was the same as the third, but also was given oleuropein aglycone.

The histological structure of the gastrointestinal tract from the third group was typical of a normal architecture, but did not present any early inflammation. The ileum from animals subjected to intestinal ischemia/reperfusion injury (IRI) showed severe histological alteration with edema of the distal portion of the villi and the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, apoptosis and neutrophil infiltration were significantly increased. Oleuropein aglycone treated-mice showed reduced IRI-induced organ injury including a considerable reduction of inflammatory and apoptotic levels.

"Olive oil's healing properties have been known for millennia," said John Wherry, Ph.D., deputy editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, "but until relatively recently, we have had few direct scientific insights into exactly how it works in the body. Not only does this report shed light on the molecular details of how olive oil may provide health benefits, but it may open new doors to enhancing treatments based on this discovery."

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