Session: 6

PS6-02 | Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) in a Drosophila model of Parkinson´s disease

Pedro Lorenzo Ballestero


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second neurodegenerative disorder in prevalence. Its origin is unknown, but its pathophysiological characteristic is the progressive degeneration of dopamine-releasing neurons of the Substantia nigra.A clinical study conducted in Argentina revealed that the consumption of yerba mate (YM) has an inverse association with the risk of developing PD (Gatto, 2015), and we found that YM extract induces a strong neuroprotective effect on dopaminergic neurons in vitro (Bernardi, 2019). Given these results, we hypothesized that the YM extract would also protect neurons from the deleterious effects caused by the expression of human alpha synuclein (aSyn) in a widely used Drosophila melanogaster model of PD. To reach this goal, we have set up the administration of YM to these fly disease model and produced preliminary behavioral and molecular data. Preliminary experiments using GRASP (GFP Reconstitution Across Synaptic Partners) technique, showed an increased GFP signal (a reporter of synaptic connections) between circadian and dopaminergic neurons in aged wild-type flies treated with YM, suggesting more connectivity in treated flies. Unfortunately, these experiments were interrupted by the pandemic when we were going to replicate this study in the aSyn flies. Our preliminary results show that YM administration improves motor coordination in PD flies and could also maintain synapses in wild-type flies; perhaps an indication of healthier neuronal circuits?