So now, beer is healthy – in moderation!


Xanthohumol, an active component in beer, helps protect against oxidative stress in neurons


Chinese scientists have discovered that Xanthohumol (Xn), a polyphenol chalcone from hops (female flowers of hop plant; also known as seed cones or strobiles), might be a potential candidate for the prevention of neurodegenerative disorders. Xn is commonly used to make beer, soft drinks such as Julmust and Malta and various medicines used in traditional Chinese medicine. Xn has been suggested to be linked to the epidemiological observation of the beneficial effect of regular beer drinking.

This study, published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, talks about the neuroprotective functions of Xn against oxidative stress-induced neuronal cell damage. The scientists synthesized Xn in the lab and used it to treat neuronlike rat pheochromocytoma cell line PC12. Results showed that Xn have a scavenging effects on free radicals by protecting PC12 cells from hydrogen peroxide and Oxidopamine (a neurotoxin-6-OHDA) induced oxidative stress and cell damage. Xn treatment also helps alleviate oxidative stress-induced apoptosis and prevents reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulation in PC12 cells. The mechanism by which it does all the above is by producing increased levels of anti-oxidant enzymes such as glutathione, hemeoxygenase, NADPH:quinone oxidoreductase and thioredoxin oxidoreductase.

beer cycle

Xn further promotes Nrf2 localization to the nucleus of the cell, thus activating antioxidant gene expression. Nrf2 is a transcription factor that regulates the expression of antioxidant proteins. The α,β-unsaturated ketone structure in Xn and Nrf2 is the essential component necessary for cryoprotection in these neuronlike cells. The scientists suggest that Xn will be the next target for developing therapies for neurodegenerative diseases.

The original publication can be accessed here.

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Scientist-entrepreneur-manager-journalist: -Co-founder, Author; Former Assistant Editor and Director, Biotechin.Asia, Biotech Media Pte. Ltd.; -Founder & CEO, SciGlo (; -Programme Management Officer, SBIC, A*STAR (former Research Fellow). --Sandhya graduated from University of Madras, India (B.Sc Microbiology and M.Sc Biotechnology) and received her Ph.D from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She worked on oxidative stress in skin, skeletal, adipose tissue and cardiac muscle for a decade from 2006-2016. She is currently working as a Programme Management Officer handling projects and grants at Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Earlier to this she was a Research Fellow in the Fat Metabolism and Stem Cell Group at SBIC. Sandhya was also the Vice President and Publicity Chair of A*PECSS (A*STAR Post Doc Society) (2014-2016). Recently she founded a platform for scientists - SciGlo ( and is a startup mentor at Vertical VC (Finland). She is an ardent lover of science and enjoys globe trotting and good vegetarian food.