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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #214925

Title: Polyphenols and Polyunsaturate Fatty Acids: The Pollyanna's of Age-Related Cognitive Decline, Neurodegenerative Disease

item Joseph, James
item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara

Submitted to: Nutrition in the Prevention and Treatment of Disease
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/15/2007
Publication Date: 3/3/2008
Citation: Joseph, J.A., Smith, M.A., Perry, G., Shukitt Hale, B. 2008. Polyphenols and Polyunsaturate Fatty Acids: The Pollyanna's of Age-Related Cognitive Decline, Neurodegenerative Disease. In Coulston, A.M. and Boushey, C.J., editors. Nutrition in the Prevention and Treatment of Disease. 2nd edition. San Diego: Elsevier. p. 269-287.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: As children, there are very few of us who have not heard Mom's familiar refrain: "Eat your fruits and vegetables. They're good for you"! Little did we realize until later in life how much Mom knew about what we should eat to stay healthy. Now, it seems as though Mom's prophetic statement appears daily in various media outlets. We are told that a "high" intake of fruits and vegetables will reduce your risk of encountering such ubiquitous killers as cardiovascular diseases and cancer. But questions arise as to the nature of their beneficial properties in relation to these and possibly neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer disease). It turns out that all of these conditions may have a common initiator—aging where, in the case of the brain, there are decrements in neuronal communication, even in normal aging, that can lead to motor and cognitive behavioral deficits. A great deal of data suggests that these deficits arise as a result of an increasing inability of the aging organism to protect itself against inflammation and oxidative stress (INF/OS), providing "fertile ground" for the development of neurodegenerative diseases. The good news is that it appears that compounds (e.g., polyphenolics) found in fruits and vegetables that enhance the survivability of the plant, presumably through their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, may provide the necessary protection to prevent the demise of cognitive and motor function in senescence. For example, studies have shown that old rats maintained for 2 months on diets containing 2% high antioxidant strawberry or blueberry (BB) extracts exhibited reversals of age-related deficits in neuronal function or cognitive behavior and these reversals were greatest in the BB-supplemented (S) animals. Subsequent experiments in both cell and animal models have indicated that this extract has anti INF/OS properties and also may have direct effects on improving communication (signaling) between neurons by enhancing signaling between them and increasing the growth of new neurons (neurogenesis). The purpose of this review is to discuss some of the nutritional interventions in aging and their putative utility in neurodegenerative disease.