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Open AccessArticle

Theanine, the Main Amino Acid in Tea, Prevents Stress-Induced Brain Atrophy by Modifying Early Stress Responses

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Tea Science Center, University of Shizuoka, 52-1 Yada, Suruga-ku, Shizuoka 422-8526, Japan
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School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Shizuoka, 52-1 Yada, Suruga-ku, Shizuoka 422-8526, Japan
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Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Tohoku University, 4-1 Seiryo-machi, Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-8575, Japan
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National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, 4-9-1, Anagawa, Inage-ku, Chiba 263-8555, Japan
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Faculty of Bioresource Sciences, Akita Prefectural University, Shimoshinjo Nakano, Akita 010-0195, Japan
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College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Ritsumeikan University, 1-1-1 Nojihigashi, Kusatsu, Shiga 525-8577, Japan
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Faculty of Health Sciences, Kyorin University, 5-4-1 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-8612, Japan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2020, 12(1), 174; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12010174
Received: 3 December 2019 / Revised: 30 December 2019 / Accepted: 4 January 2020 / Published: 8 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics)
Chronic stress can impair the health of human brains. An important strategy that may prevent the accumulation of stress may be the consumption of functional foods. When senescence-accelerated mice prone 10 (SAMP10), a stress-sensitive strain, were loaded with stress using imposed male mouse territoriality, brain volume decreased. However, in mice that ingested theanine (6 mg/kg), the main amino acid in tea leaves, brain atrophy was suppressed, even under stress. On the other hand, brain atrophy was not clearly observed in a mouse strain that aged normally (Slc:ddY). The expression level of the transcription factor Npas4 (neuronal PAS domain protein 4), which regulates the formation and maintenance of inhibitory synapses in response to excitatory synaptic activity, decreased in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex of stressed SAMP10 mice, but increased in mice that ingested theanine. Lipocalin 2 (Lcn2), the expression of which increased in response to stress, was significantly high in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex of stressed SAMP10 mice, but not in mice that ingested theanine. These data suggest that Npas4 and Lcn2 are involved in the brain atrophy and stress vulnerability of SAMP10 mice, which are prevented by the consumption of theanine, causing changes in the expression of these genes. View Full-Text
Keywords: brain atrophy; chronic stress; hippocampus; MRI analysis; prefrontal cortex; theanine; SAMP10 brain atrophy; chronic stress; hippocampus; MRI analysis; prefrontal cortex; theanine; SAMP10
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Unno, K.; Sumiyoshi, A.; Konishi, T.; Hayashi, M.; Taguchi, K.; Muguruma, Y.; Inoue, K.; Iguchi, K.; Nonaka, H.; Kawashima, R.; Hasegawa-Ishii, S.; Shimada, A.; Nakamura, Y. Theanine, the Main Amino Acid in Tea, Prevents Stress-Induced Brain Atrophy by Modifying Early Stress Responses. Nutrients 2020, 12, 174.

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