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Collaborative Success Stories: Clove Affair

garlic clove

University of Missouri researchers have discovered that garlic could protect the brain from aging and other stress.

Garlic is often dubbed a “superfood” because of its antioxidant properties. Now, MU scientist Zezong Gu has found a new benefit offered by the food. He led a team of researchers to assess how a nutrient derived from garlic, called FruArg, impacts the brain’s reaction to damage from stressors including pollution, excessive alcohol consumption, brain injury and aging.

The scientists focused on microglial cells, found in the brain and spinal cord, which react to stress by multiplying quickly. Although helpful in the short term, the multiplying process creates nitric oxide, which can damage nerve cells. As a result, repeated stressors can lead to diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

The team discovered that when FruArg was present, the microglial cells reduced the amount of nitric oxide they produced. Additionally, the nutrient promoted the production of antioxidants, offering protective and healing benefits to other brain cells. The scientists’ research sheds light on how garlic can increase resilience in the brain.

The team hopes to continue their work by studying the effects of FruArg on other cells in the body associated with stress-related conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

Dr. Zezong Gu is an associate professor of the department of pathology and anatomical science in the School of Medicine.

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Related Initiative(s):
Food for the Future, One Health/One Medicine,