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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Location: Boston, Massachusetts

2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
1: Determine the effects of the radiation on several cognitive and motor behaviors (e.g., Morris water maze), and in addition examine additional new ones (e.g., elevated + maze). 2: Determine whether pre-feeding with Blueberry (BB) or Strawberry (SB) at 2-4% of the diet will prevent the radiation induced deficits in these parameters. 3: We will utilize several techniques (see approach) to assess the changes in several markers of phosphorylation that are important in cell signaling and neurogenesis.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
The effects of Strawberry (SB) and/or Blueberry (BB) dietary supplementations (8 wks)(control, 2% BB, 2% SB or 1% each SB/BB extracts in the diet for 8 weeks) will be examined in non-irradiated or irradiated (4 mo Sprague Dawley) rats using cognitive and motor tasks. The tests utilized will be age-sensitive motor (inclined screen) and cognitive behaviors (Morris water maze performance, elevated plus maze, sensorimotor gating). We will then determine the effects of the supplementations on neuronal signaling and correlate these with alterations in behavioral parameters determined. We will utilize several techniques (e.g., Western blot analyses and immunocytochemistry) to assess the changes in several markers of phosphorylation that are important in cell communication and neurogenesis (e.g., calcium-dependent protein kinase C, PKC; extracellular signal regulated kinases, ERK).

3. Progress Report:
The study was aimed to determine the detrimental effects of different high energy radiation particles (specifically encountered by astronauts) on the brain, and to explore the means to prevent the damage, if any. Charged particles with varying radiation energy caused extensive damage, in the long run, to key regions of the brain in young rats and emulated an effect similar to that of accelerated aging. The cause for this effect was extensive oxidative stress and inflammation, leading to the accumulation of damaged proteins in key regions of the brain. Therefore, this year we fed the animals high-antioxidant strawberry and blueberry diets for two months before the radiation and one month post radiation exposure. Animals fed the blueberry and strawberry diets showed better effects with respect to behavior and motor functions, and within brain regions, berries were able to limit the damage of radiation by boosting defense mechanisms and reducing accumulation of toxic debris. This project was completed this year, and this serves as the final report.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 06/27/2017
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