Brain & Neurons

Research Supports Apigenin’s Anti-Aging Benefits on The Brain

By reducing brain inflammation, apigenin may protect against cognitive decline associated with aging, according to research out of Colorado State University.

By Noemi Canditi

Key Points:

  • Apigenin, which is commonly found in many herbs and green vegetables, enhances memory and learning in elderly mice.
  • In human brain cells, apigenin reduces inflammation indicators that are linked to aging.

The most common cause of neurodegenerative disorders, which are characterized by the degeneration of the brain and include conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, is the process of aging.

In spite of the fact that this area of research has attracted a significant number of researchers and an absurd amount of funding, there isn’t much evidence showing that either medication or surgical intervention can stop the process of brain aging.

Because of this, a number of researchers are investigating nutraceuticals, which are substances that can be found in foods and have the potential to be used in medical applications. Certain nutraceuticals have been shown to have the potential to delay the onset of neurodegenerative diseases that are associated with the aging of the brain, according to studies that have been conducted so far.

One nutraceutical in particular, apigenin, has shown significant and promising results when it comes to supporting healthy brain aging during the aging process. And that’s primarily by having an effect on inflammation.

Inflammation and Aging

The process of aging is a complicated one, and there is evidence to suggest that inflammation may play a significant role in the progression of a number of age-related chronic diseases. Scientists have coined a term to best describe the subtle but persistent low-grade inflammation that is characteristic of advancing age: inflammaging.

One of the ways the body protects itself is by triggering inflammation. The duration of inflammation can be very short (referred to as “acute”) or very long (referred to as “chronic”), depending on the severity of the condition.

There are circumstances in which inflammation can have a positive impact. There are many important functions that the acute inflammatory response performs, two of which are the rapid removal of pathogens and other infectious agents, as well as the acceleration of wound healing. Typically, this beneficial acute inflammatory response reaches its peak during the youth years and then gradually decreases as one gets older. In order for children, adolescents, and younger adults to mount an appropriate immune response, it is necessary to maintain a healthy equilibrium between factors that promote inflammation and those that inhibit it.

So, for the vast majority of our lives, inflammation serves as a beneficial purpose. It’s a good thing! But it’s only a good thing in small doses.

However, as we get older, the number of factors that promote inflammation starts to surpass the number of factors that inhibit inflammation, which results in a tipping point in the balance. When inflammation is present for an extended period of time and is excessive, the response becomes harmful, which in turn increases the likelihood of experiencing negative consequences such as chronic disease and disability.

Inflammaging is a term that was coined in the late 1990s as a result of a series of studies on the impact of stress and the evolution of immune mechanisms in animals. It describes the relationship between the aging process and a mild form of chronic inflammation. Within the last twenty years, from 2000 to the present, a plethora of scientific investigations devoted to the theory of inflammaging have shed light on the aging process, establishing a strong link between it and the contemporary concept of tailored medicine.

Inflammaging in The Brain

With age, there’s a buildup of all sorts of triggers for inflammation—trauma, infection, and stress—in many of the different types of cells that make up the brain.

Astrocytes, brain cells that support and protect neurons, play multiple roles during brain inflammation. On the one hand, they can restrict the influx of immune cells into the brain while producing factors to promote tissue repair. On the other hand, astrocytes can promote neurodegeneration and inflammation through the recruitment of immune cells.

So, the activity of astrocytes needs to be just right in order to squash inflammation instead of causing it.

Apigenin’s Effects on Aging Astrocytes and Inflammation

According to recently published research out of Colorado State University, apigenin appears to have “anti-aging” properties in the brain. As a result of the addition of apigenin to the drinking water of the elderly mice, the researchers discovered that the mice exhibited improvements in learning and memory. In addition, the researchers found that the presence of apigenin in human astrocytes resulted in a reduction in the presence of markers for inflammation.

What Are Some Other Anti-Aging Effects of Apigenin on The Brain?

Apigenin’s anti-aging effects in the brain extend beyond just astrocytes to the cells that make up the brain’s blood vessels.

The brain’s blood vessels are critical for the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. But with aging, these cells get compromised and stiffen up, making blood flow less fluid. The health of these brain blood vessel cells has been directly linked to brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders.

Several lines of research have shown that apigenin can promote the health of these blood vessel cells in the brain, reducing their stiffness and improving blood flow.

Where Can I Get Apigenin?

Apigenin is found in all sorts of different plants, including:

  • Herbs (parsley, oregano, and sage)
  • Flowers (chamomile and Baikal skullcap)
  • Vegetables (celery and spinach)
  • Fruits (kumquats)
  • Shrubs (hawthorn)
  • Grass (sugar cane)

Apigenin can also be found in supplement form. Apigenin supplements contain much higher doses of nutrients than would typically be consumed naturally through dietary sources. That’s how Dr. Andrew Huberman gets apigenin for his supplement stack for promoting better sleep!

The specific amount of apigenin that should be consumed in a day is up for debate, with studies showing varying recommendations.

But what’s become less of a debate is whether apigenin has anti-aging benefits.

Perhaps soon, a new jingle will take the place of the proverb “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

Instead, we’ll be singing, “Apigenin each day, keeps aging at bay.”

Model & Dosage
  1. Cavalier AN, Clayton ZS, Wahl D, Hutton DA, McEntee CM, Seals DR, LaRocca TJ. Protective effects of apigenin on the brain transcriptome with aging. Mech Ageing Dev. 2023 Nov 24;217:111889. doi: 10.1016/j.mad.2023.111889. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 38007051.
  2. Lavin KM, Perkins RK, Jemiolo B, Raue U, Trappe SW, Trappe TA. Effects of aging and lifelong aerobic exercise on basal and exercise-induced inflammation. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2020 Jan 1;128(1):87-99. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00495.2019. Epub 2019 Nov 21. PMID: 31751180; PMCID: PMC6985808.
  3. Xia S, Zhang X, Zheng S, Khanabdali R, Kalionis B, Wu J, Wan W, Tai X. An Update on Inflamm-Aging: Mechanisms, Prevention, and Treatment. J Immunol Res. 2016;2016:8426874. doi: 10.1155/2016/8426874. Epub 2016 Jul 14. PMID: 27493973; PMCID: PMC4963991.
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