Location: Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging
2009 Annual Report
2. Characterize mechanisms by which nutritionally induced hyperhomocysteinemia affects neuronal function and cognitive performance using transgenic and other animal models of human cognitive decline.
LAB: Neuroscience 1. Use cell models to develop mechanistic interpretations of the positive benefits of berry polyphenols and fatty acids by examining their direct effects on deficits in stress and protective signaling.
2. Establish the effects of dietary berry fruit extracts and/or fatty acids on behavioral and neuronal deficits in aging to assess the mechanisms involved and the most effective polyphenols/fatty acids in animal and human models.
LAB: Neuroscience The focus of the current project is to elucidate the mechanisms involved in the beneficial effects of berry fruit and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) from fish or nut oils on reducing neurodegeneration mediated by oxidative stress (OS) and inflammation (INF). Mixed neuron/ glial cultures obtained from rats of different ages will be employed to delineate the neuroprotective effects of berry fruit or PUFA against OS/INF and subsequent stress mediated by glial cells. Additionally, muscarinic receptor-transfected COS-7 cells will be used to assess OS/INF localization and the effects of membrane lipids on the cellular responses to OS/INF. Extensive motor and cognitive assessments will also be made of senescent animals fed diets containing berry fruit or PUFAs. Finally, we will translate the behavioral findings obtained in our animal studies to the human condition by examining the effects of berry fruit or walnut supplementation on human gait and motor ability. This project will contribute to fundamental new knowledge of the putative role of berry fruit and PUFAs on reducing OS/INF and behavioral deficits in aging. These studies will span basic cellular signaling, animal behavior and cognition, and human motor abilities, allowing for a comprehensive examination of the beneficial effects of berry fruit and nutritional PUFAs on the aging brain.