Submitted to: CRC Press
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/12/2005
Publication Date: 1/11/2005
Citation: Lau, F.C., Shukitt Hale, B., Joseph, J.A. 2005. Age related neuronal and behavioral deficits are improved by polyphenol rich blueberry supplementation. CRC Press. p. 499.
Technical Abstract: Population estimates conducted by the United Nations indicate that, in developed countries, persons aged 60 years or over are projected to increase from 20% of today’s population to 32% by the year 2050. At the same time, the elderly population will not only surpass, but double, the number of children (persons aged 0-14) for the first time in history. It is highly possible that the aged population will exhibit some of the most common correlative motor and cognitive behavioral changes that occur in aging. These alterations occur even in the absence of age-related neurodegenerative diseases but can interact to exacerbate the behavioral aberrations found in these conditions. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD) are the most common neurodegenerative diseases found in the aged population. Although the etiology of these diseases is largely unknown, a few risk factors have been identified, and aging is the only factor found to be common in both AD and PD. Thus, population aging causes an increase in age-related deficits that inflict a great deal of health and economic burden on the elderly because of the diminished quality of life and the increased health care costs. In order to relieve the burden imposed by the increases in life expectancy, it is of great importance to explore methods to retard or reverse the age-related neuronal deficits. Unfortunately, very little is known about the mechanisms involved in these age-associated declines in cognitive and motor behaviors. In the 1950s, Harman proposed the free radical theory of aging. According to Harman, the aging process is a result of the accumulation of oxidative damage to cells and tissues. It is postulated that the behavioral and neuronal deteriorations seen in the aged population are the result of an increasing inability to protect against free radicals. This theory is now widely accepted in the field of nutraceutical research, which investigates the effects of dietary antioxidants as an intervention to reverse the aging process. Our research shows that supplementation with fruits and vegetables provides beneficial effects which include both forestalling and reversing the deleterious effects of aging on neuronal functioning and behavior. This protection is probably due to the polyphenolic compounds in these fruits and vegetables, which possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This chapter will review the concepts of oxidative stress (OS), OS-induced neuronal and behavioral changes, and the effect of blueberries age-related neuronal and behavioral deficits