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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #292084

Title: Effect of berries on cognitive and neurochemical functions

item Poulose, Shibu
item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/25/2013
Publication Date: 6/9/2013
Citation: Poulose, S.M., Shukitt Hale, B. 2013. Effect of berries on cognitive and neurochemical functions. Meeting Abstract. First International Symposium on Elderberry Proceedings, p. 50.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Berries are an excellent source of numerous, unique, bioactive compounds, which play a pivotal role in attenuating stress-associated biological dysfunctions. The protective effects of berries play even more significance in brain health as brain alone utilizes from 10-50% of the body's total oxygen supply. High rates of oxygen consumption result in excessive reactive oxygen species being produced, making the brain highly vulnerable to oxidative stress, inflammation and neural dysfunction. A rapid rise in neurodegenerative diseases, an increasing aging population and little success towards any cure for brain diseases compel us to explore strategies to alter the neuronal environment and reduce the impact of oxidative and inflammatory stressors. Numerous studies from our laboratory using various in vitro and animal models have indicated that supplementing the diet with berry fruits (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries and other colored fruits) significantly improves indices of cognition and behavior as a factor of age. Elderberry (Sambucus sps.), like blueberries, blackberries and other berry species, contains large amount of flavonoids, particularly catechins and anthocyanins. Our studies have shown that improvement in brain health by berry diets is a result of reduced oxidative stress and inflammation, and, at the same time, an upregulation of the endogenous defense system to ward off toxic protein accumulation, an improvement in neuronal signaling, and a promotion of adult neurogenesis in critical brain regions. We have shown that feeding aged rats (19-21 months old) with berries high in antioxidants is able to prevent and reverse the neurochemical and behavioral changes that occur in aging, such as loss of memory, cognition and motor functions. Therefore, it is critical to highlight the nutritional interventions of diets rich in nuts, berries, fruits and vegetables which may reverse or allay age-related motor or cognitive deficits, delay the onset of age-related neurodegenerative diseases and convey long-term health dividends in an aging population.