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Capers consumption supports important processes in the body
Pickled capers activate proteins that are important for the brain and heart. A new study shows how capers help regulate proteins that control important body processes.
Researchers at the University of California - Irvine School of Medicine found that a caper substance activates a protein in the body that supports brain and heart activity in humans. According to the research team, capers or the quercetin substance contained could be suitable for the treatment of epilepsy and cardiac arrhythmias. The study results were recently presented in the renowned journal "Nature Communications Biology".
Capers are rich in quercetin
The compound responsible for the positive effects is called Quercetin - a yellow natural dye from the group of polyphenols and flavonoids. This substance is directly involved in the regulation of a protein that supports vital body processes such as heartbeat, brain functions, muscle contractions and the normal functions of the thyroid, pancreas and gastrointestinal tract.
How does quercetin work?
The vegetable bioflavonoid quercetin directly stimulates the potassium channel family (KCNQ). These channels have a huge impact on human health. Malfunctions of these channels have been linked to several common human diseases, including diabetes, irregular heartbeat and epilepsy.
The study showed that quercetin stimulates the KCNQ channels by directly regulating how the channels perceive electrical impulses. The quercetin binds to and influences the potassium channels, which ultimately leads to the channel opening, although it would normally be closed.
Quercetin has potential as a therapeutic agent
“Increasing the activity of the KCNQ channels in different parts of the body is potentially very beneficial,” emphasizes the research team. The same effect is also brought about by synthetic drugs that are used to treat epilepsy and prevent cardiac arrhythmias.
"Now that we understand how quercetin controls the KCNQ channels, medical-chemical studies can be done to create small molecules related to quercetin for potential use as therapeutic drugs," the researchers conclude.
Capers as ancient folk medicine
As the team reports, archaeological evidence of human caper consumption goes back as far as 10,000 years. This is demonstrated by finds from soil deposits in Syria and late Stone Age cave dwellings in Greece and Israel. Capers have been traditionally used as folk medicine for thousands of years. Further current research is investigating whether the substances contained in capers also have an inhibitory effect against cancer, diabetes and inflammation. In addition, consumption could have benefits for the circulatory and gastrointestinal tract. (vb)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- Kaitlyn E. Redford, Geoffrey W. Abbott: The ubiquitous flavonoid quercetin is an atypical KCNQ potassium channel activator; in: Nature Communications Biology, 2020, nature.com
- UCI School of Medicine: Pickled capers activate proteins important for human brain and heart health (published: 07/13/2020), som.uci.edu