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Quercetin may improve—and lengthen—lives of MD patients

The flavonoid boosted heart health in mouse models in a new study. Researchers are hopeful the nutrient might help humans with the lethal disease.

A flavonoid found in apples and onions could help the hearts of people with muscular dystrophy, according to a new rodent study. If the results can be replicated in humans, it could mean that the common nutritional supplement could help patients live longer.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is the most common lethal genetic disease diagnosed in children around the world, according to the Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Research Fund. The disease progressively weakens all muscles in the body, including the heart. On average, patients do not live beyond 26 years. Duchenne’s predominantly affects boys.

Scientists from Iowa State University, Auburn University and the University of Montana in the United States found that supplementing mice’s food with quercetin improved biomedical outcomes by providing an inflammatory and antioxidant effect. They also found that the mice who ate quercetin were more active than the control group.

For the research, published in the journal Experimental Physiology, scientists used several mouse models for muscular dystrophy, conducting parallel experiments to replicate the way the disease affects humans as closely as possible, according to a release from the Physiological Society.

"A currently available dietary intervention could benefit those with muscular dystrophy,” corresponding author, John C. Quindry, PhD, of the University of Montana, said in the release. “We gave the mice a quercetin dose that was proportional to those that could be given to humans. This allows the scientists to make the best possible connections between animal and human research findings."

In addition to improving and extending the lives of people with Duchenne’s, the antioxidant properties of quercetin may also reduce the risk of stroke, according to previous research. One study, published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, found that the flavonoid may cut stroke risk by up to 52 percent.

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