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Title: Tart cherries improve working memory in aged rats

item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara
item MILLER, MARSHALL - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item BIELINSKI, DONNA - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item Poulose, Shibu

Submitted to: Society for Neuroscience Abstracts and Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/25/2013
Publication Date: 11/9/2013
Citation: Shukitt Hale, B., Miller, M.G., Bielinski, D.F., Poulose, S.M. 2013. Tart cherries improve working memory in aged rats. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts and Proceedings. 2013. Program # 252.03.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Aged rats show impaired performance on cognitive tasks that require the use of spatial learning and memory. In previous studies, we have shown the beneficial effects of various dark-colored berry fruits (blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries) in reversing age-related deficits in behavioral and neuronal function when fed to rats from 19-21 months of age. These effects may be due to the phytochemicals in the fruits, which increase antioxidant and anti-inflammatory levels, and directly affect signaling and autophagy in the brain. Tart cherries, like other berry fruits, are rich in polyphenolics, particularly anthocyanins. Thus, the present studies were carried out to determine if tart cherries, added to the diet of 19 mo Fischer 344 rats at 2% for 8 weeks, would be efficacious in reversing the deleterious effects of aging on cognitive behavior as measured with the working memory version of the Morris water maze. Results showed that the cherry diet improved working memory in the Morris water maze, but not in the control group. However, reference memory was better in the control group, possibly because they were not using spatial strategies to solve the maze. Currently, westerns are being done on brain tissue homogenates to measure the levels of four markers involved in the aggregation of polyubiquitinated proteins and activation of autophagy: phospho-mTOR, beclin-1, p62, and LC3-I/II. We will then be able to assess whether alterations in these autophagy markers may be involved in the mechanisms of action through which the tart cherry polyphenols produce their effects.