PorridgePlus - food against dementia

The aim of the project is to develop a food product for elderly with the objective to promote healthy brain aging. The basis for the project are findings that Rice Bran Extract protects from mitochondrial dysfunction in the brain. Mitochondrial dysfunction plays a major role in the development of age-related neurodegenerative diseases and recent evidences suggest that food ingredients can improve mitochondrial function. Project partners are: Bernd Fiebich (Vivacell, Freiburg), Gerhard Fesenmeyer (FBFood, Villingen-Schwenningen), Gunter P. Eckert (Goethe-University of Frankfurt), and Jan Frank (University of Hohenheim). The project is supported by the Federal Ministry of Economics (BMWi) in frame of the ZIM-initiative a project called PorridgePlus (KF3204601). 

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In Egypt, the cultivated area of rice is about two million acres which annually produce 8 million tons of rice with more than 500 000 MT rice bran. Rice bran is produced as a by-product in the rice milling process, a process in which the outer layer of the rice grain is removed to refine it. Rice bran is especially rich in bioactive components showing significant biological effects, such as anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering, antioxidant and anti-diabetic activity. Key components are oryzanols (a mixture of ferulic acid esters of triterpene alcohol and sterol), tocopherols and tocotrienols.

However, because of the extreme instability of the latter, it becomes rancid and unsuitable for human use within hours of milling. Consequently, it is either discarded or used as animal feed, thereby pouring its potential medical usefulness down the drain at the expense of a great financial and human utility loss. The first step towards making use of rice bran for human use was to render it stable before any processing can take place.  In addition, complete phytochemical as well as preliminary toxicity studies have been carried out to ensure its safety and comparability to the world wide stabilized rice bran product. The steps to follow would be to provide an extract with proven bioactivity, which can then be further developed into a suitable and effective nutraceutical to safeguard against the different ailments mentioned above. Furthermore, rice bran has well established nutritive properties and could be incorporated in many floury food products, such as biscuits, cereals and pasta varieties to increase dramatically their nutritive value.


Recent reviews strongly suggest that rice bran bioactives have the potential to lower blood cholesterol levels, to increase an individuals’ antioxidant status, to suppress inflammation, to normalize blood glucose levels and to attenuate neurodegenerative events. For decades already it has been known that rice bran contains most of the micronutrient, vitamin and bioactives (e.g. tocotrienols (TCTs), γ- oryzanol (ORYL), and policosanol (PCS) found in rice. For most of these constituents, especially the bioactives, health-beneficial effects have been described and some of the constituents are almost exclusively found in high amounts in rice bran. During the past two years, the applicant and his team were engaged in confirming the efficacy of their stabilization process and succeeded in analyzing   the bioactives and micronutrients of the local rice bran.  

Together with partners from Egypt, we are assessing the effect of Egyptian rice bran extracts on prevention of mitochondrial dysfunction in cell culture and animal models of aging and Alzheimer’s Disease. The aim of our studies is the establishment of rice bran extract as potential food supplement to prevent neurodegeneration. The project is carried out by Ph.D. student Stephanie Hagl. (Supported by EU/RDI #C2/S1/118 and the BMWi #KF320461).


Hagl S, Asseburg H, Heinrich MA, Sus N, Blumrich EM, Dringen R , Frank J, Eckert GP
Effects of long-term Rice Bran Extract supplementation on survival, cognition and brain mitochondrial function in aged NMRI mice
NeuroMolecular Medicine, 2016, 18(3):347-63. 
 [Pubmed Abstract]

Bhatia HS, Baron J, Hagl S, Eckert GP, Fiebich BL
Rice Bran Derivatives Alleviate Microglia Activation: Possible Involvement of MAPK Pathway
J Neuroinflammation, 2016, 13(1)148 [open access]

Hagl S, Berressem D, Grewal R, Grebenstein N, Frank J, Eckert GP
Rice bran extract improves mitochondrial dysfunction in brains of aged NMRI mice
Nutr Neurosci, 2016, 19(1):1-10. [
Pubmed Abstract]

Hagl S, Grewal R, Ciobanu I, Helal A, Khayyal MT, Muller WE, Eckert GP
Rice Bran Extract compensates mitochondrial dysfunction in a cellular model of early Alzheimer's disease
J Alz Dis 2014, 43(3):927-38 [Pubmed Abstract]

Hagl S, Alexa Kocher A, Christina Schiborr C, Eckert S, Ciobanu I, Birringer M, Al-Askary H, Amr Helal A, Khayyal MT, Frank J, Muller WE, Eckert GP
Rice bran extract protects from mitochondrial dysfunction in guinea pig brains
Pharmacol Res. 2013, 76C:17-27 [Pubmed Abstract]

© Prof. Dr. Gunter P. Eckert 2018