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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: THE EFFECTS OF STRAWBERRIES ON COGNITION AND NEURONAL COMMUNICATION IN AGING: MECHANISTIC CONSIDERATIONS

Location: Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging

Title: Acai fruit improves motor and cognitive function in aged rats

Authors
item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara
item Carey, Amanda
item Miller, Marshall G. -
item Poulose, Shibu

Submitted to: Society for Neuroscience Abstracts and Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: June 21, 2012
Publication Date: October 13, 2012
Citation: Shukitt Hale, B., Carey, A.N., Miller, M., Poulose, S.M. 2012. Acai fruit improves motor and cognitive function in aged rats [abstract]. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts and Proceedings. Paper No. 865:04.

Technical Abstract: Aged rats show impaired performance on motor and cognitive tasks that require the use of spatial learning and memory. In previous studies, we have shown the beneficial effects of various berry fruits (blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries) in reversing age-related deficits in behavioral and neuronal function when fed to rats from 19-21 months of age. These effects may be the result of increasing antioxidant and/or anti-inflammatory levels, or by direct effects on cell-cell communication and autophagy, a neuronal housekeeping mechanism which cleans up toxic debris, in the brain. Acai is a black-purple fruit (genus Euterpe) cultivated in the Amazon delta and in Brazil (Euterpe oleracea Mart. -EO), as well as southern Central America and Columbia (Euterpe precatoria Mart. - EP), and it is known to be rich in polyphenolics that may affect cell-to-cell communication, inflammatory enzyme activity, inflammatory enzyme activity or gene regulation. Thus, the present studies were carried out to determine if EO or EP, fed in the rat diet at 2% for 8 weeks, would be efficacious in reversing the deleterious effects of aging on motor and cognitive behavior in 19 mo Fischer 344 rats. Results for the motor testing showed that the EO diet improved performance on wire suspension, while the EP rats turned more on the planks, leading to improved balance performance. Additionally, the EO diet improved reference and working memory in the Morris water maze- a test of spatial memory - compared to control, but not the EP, diet. We are currently assessing whether alterations in cell to cell communication and autophagy may be involved in the mechanisms of action through which the acai polyphenols could be producing their effects.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014