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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #214929

Title: Berry Fruit Supplementation in the Aging Brain

item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara
item Lau, Francis
item Joseph, James

Submitted to: Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/27/2007
Publication Date: 1/23/2008
Citation: Shukitt Hale, B., Lau, F.C., Joseph, J.A. 2008. Berry Fruit Supplementation in the Aging Brain. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. 56:636-641.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The onset of age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease, superimposed on a declining nervous system, could exacerbate the motor and cognitive behavioral deficits that normally occur in senescence. In cases of severe deficits in memory or motor function, hospitalization and/or custodial care would be a likely outcome. This means that unless some way is found to reduce these age-related decrements in neuronal function, health care costs will continue to rise exponentially. Thus, it is extremely important to explore methods to retard or reverse age-related neuronal deficits, as well as their subsequent, behavioral manifestations, in order to increase healthy aging. In this regard, consumption of diets rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory polyphenolics, such as those found in fruits and vegetables, may lower the risk of developing age-related neurodegenerative diseases. Research suggests that the polyphenolic compounds found in berry fruits, such as blueberries and strawberries, may exert their beneficial effects either through their ability to lower oxidative stress and inflammation, or directly by altering the signaling involved in neuronal communication, calcium buffering ability, neuroprotective stress shock proteins, plasticity, and stress signaling pathways. These interventions, in turn, may exert protection against age-related deficits in cognitive and motor function. The purpose of this review is to discuss the benefits of these interventions in rodent models and to describe the putative molecular mechanisms involved in their benefits.