Among the phenolic compounds extracted from extra virgin olive oil, oleocanthal (1) has attracted considerable attention in the modulation of many human diseases, such as inflammation and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Indeed, 1 is capable of altering the fibrillization of tau protein, which is one of the key factors at the basis of neurodegenerative diseases, and of covalently reacting with lysine ε- amino groups of the tau fragment K18 in an unspecific fashion. In the present study, an investigation of the recognition process and the reaction profile between 1 and the wild-type tau protein has been conducted by a circular dichroism, surface plasmon resonance, fluorescence, and mass spectrometry combined approach. As a result, 1 has been found to interact with tau-441, inducing stable conformational modifications of the protein secondary structure and also interfering with tau aggregation. These findings provide experimental support for the potential reduced risk of AD and related neurodegenerative diseases associated with olive oil consumption and may offer a new chemical scaffold for the development of AD-modulating agents.
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