Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: THE EFFECTS OF ACAI BERRY EXTRACTS AND ITS COMPONENTS ON BEHAVIOR AND NEURONAL FUNCTION IN AGING
2010 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
In Phase I of this study we will assess various acai berry preparations and compare these with concord grape juice, pomegranate juice and white grape juice to determine if they have similar effects to those previously seen with blueberries. If the acai berry preparations are effective, then two more Phases (II, III) of will be carried out to determine the mechanisms involved in the beneficial effects of these extracts on behavior by assessing alterations in neuronal signaling and neurogenesis. The third goal of this project will be to determine the effects of the the most effective extracts on age-related differences in resistance to oxidative stress/inflammation (OS/INF) by exposing young and old animals to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) an inflammatory agent.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
In this project we are attempting to investigate the antioxidant anti-inflammatory properties of the acai berry preparations. In Phase 1 of the proposal, the goal is to use freeze dried acai (AC) berries, fresh acai berries, Acai spray dried berries and compare these to concord grape juice, pomegranate juice, white grape juice and california dried plum juice (prune juice and various permutations and combinations of one - seven) to see if they have similar effects to those that we have seen with blueberry (BB) and other berry extracts and juices in cell signaling and to what degree. The specific goals are:

1. Determine the juices that would contribute to reductions in calcium clearance (following depolarization), and oxidant stress (amyloid beta, A(beta)42- induced) or inflammatory (lipolysaccaride, LPS) signaling in mixed glial/primary hippocampal cultures. These treatments will be compared to those of vitamin E, and the NSAID, piroxicam and the eroxisome proliferatoractivated receptor (PPAR gamma) agonist, rosiglitazone against A(beta)42 or LPS treatment.

2. Assess whether the putative beneficial effects on the cells of the ME would involve alterations in stress (e.g., p38 mitogen activated protein kinase, MAPK) signaling, as well as activation of protective signals (e.g., insulin growth factor-1, IGF-1).

3. Determine the stress signal responses of the various mixes in BV-2 mouse microglial cells that are exposed to LPS after treatment with the various extracts. We will purchase the hippocampal cells and the supplies (e.g., antibodies for the stress signals, media, etc) to carry out the cells studies.


3.Progress Report

In this project we are attempting to investigate the antioxidant anti-inflammatory properties of acai berry fractions. Inflammation and oxidative stress on brain cells set off a cascade of events resulting in death of neurons, ultimately leading to declines in cognitive and motor functions as well as age-related diseases. Loss of cognitive function with aging has been related to loss of regulation in calcium (Ca2+) balance inside the brain cells. We have shown that these insults on brain cells can be prevented with the consumption of other berry fruits as evident in our previous studies on aged animals. These fruits are packed with an array of polyphenolic compounds which have the ability to reduce stress and inflammation. To demonstrate the mechanism by which berry fruit extracts assist in weakening the stress insults, we used brain cells which were treated with different fractions of acai berry extracts, containing different classes of phytonutrients such as anthocyanins, flavanoids, terpinoids, etc., and subjected to stress. The acai pulp extracts increased calcium recovery in the cells and protected the cells from nitrite stress. The results indicate that components of acai berries, like the other berries we tested, are effective against inflammatory and oxidative stress in the brain cells. We also showed that acai berry extracts were able to rescue neurons through induction of autophagy, a process by which toxic debris is recycled and cleared in neurons. This is important since if the neuronal cell’s ability to clean up and remove toxic debris is antagonized by oxidative or inflammatory stressors, the cell may lose viability and show declines in function. The finding that acai berry extract pre-treatments can mitigate these effects has important implications for preventing declines in neuronal function via nutrition.

Monitoring of this project is accomplished through e-mail and/or teleconference.


Last Modified: 10/21/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page