Utility of animal models of Alzheimer’s disease in food bioactive research
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by globally impaired cognition. AD research in animals has shown a substantial deficit in translational relevance. The most extensively used transgenic mouse models overexpress human genes associated with rare familial early-onset AD, which results in the formation of amyloid plaques. However, the most common form of AD (late-onset sporadic AD) is a multifactorial disorder involving different cytotoxic factors, including neurofibrillary pathology. Transgenic mice studies have been valuable in elucidating pathogenetic mechanisms that may be relevant to human AD. However, their utility in the development of novel treatment strategies and as preclinical testbeds of new drugs has been unsatisfactory. Animal models have so far failed to demonstrate predictive value in regard to novel therapies of AD, including the use of bioactive food components. While many therapeutic approaches assessed in animals have shown promising results, attempts to translate these findings to people with AD have been disappointing. Food scientists should be aware that the available animal models appear to be unable to predict clinical success in humans. Therefore, food bioactive research should focus on human-centric preventive approaches to AD in clinically meaningful settings rather than on highly questionable preclinical research in animals.