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Research Project: Neurocognition/Neuroscience (Bridging Project)

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Title: Dietary supplementation with the polyphenol-rich açaí pulps (Euterpe oleracea Mart. and Euterpe precatoria Mart.) improves cognition in aged rats and attenuates inflammatory signaling in BV-2 microglial cells

Author
item Carey, Amanda - Simmons College
item Miller, Marshall
item Fisher, Derek
item Bielinski, Donna - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item Gilman, Casey - Simmons College
item Poulose, Shibu - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item Shukitt-hale, Barbara

Submitted to: Nutritional Neuroscience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/24/2015
Publication Date: 4/1/2017
Citation: Carey, A., Miller, M.G., Fisher, D.R., Bielinski, D., Gilman, C.K., Poulose, S.M., Shukitt Hale, B. 2017. Dietary supplementation with the polyphenol-rich açaí pulps (Euterpe oleracea Mart. and Euterpe precatoria Mart.) improves cognition in aged rats and attenuates inflammatory signaling in BV-2 microglial cells. Nutritional Neuroscience. 20:238-245.

Interpretive Summary: This study was carried out to determine if açaí fruit, known to be rich in antioxidant compounds, would be efficacious in reversing age-related declines in memory and learning ability in old rats. After 8 weeks of supplementation with 2 different varieties of acai at 2% of the diet, rats demonstrated improved short-term memory in a water maze, relative to non-supplemented rats; however, only one of the acai varieties also improved task-learning ability. When cultured brain cells were treated with blood serum collected from acaí-fed rats, the cells exhibited less oxidative stress than cells treated with serum from unsupplemented rats. Serum from acai-fed rats also reduced inflammation in the cultured brain cells. There was a relationship between the rats’ performance in the water maze and the level of oxidative stress and inflammation measured in serum-treated cells, such that serum from rats with better performance was more protective against inflammation. Thus, protection of memory during aging by açaí fruit may result from its ability to influence antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms.

Technical Abstract: Objectives: The present study was carried out to determine if lyophilized acai fruit pulp (genus, Euterpe), rich in polyphenolics and other bioactive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals, is efficacious in reversing age-related cognitive deficits in aged rats. Methods: The diets of 19-month-old Fischer 344 rats were supplemented for 8 weeks with 2% Euterpe oleracea (EO), Euterpe precatoria (EP), or a control diet. Rats were tested in the working memory version of the Morris Water maze and then blood serum from the rats was used to assess inflammatory responses of BV-2 microglial cells. Results: After 8 weeks of dietary supplementation with 2% EO or EP, rats demonstrated improved working memory in the Morris water maze, relative to controls; however, only the EO diet improved reference memory. BV-2 microglial cells treated with blood serum collected from EO-fed rats produced less nitric oxide than control-fed rats. Serum from both EO-and EP-fed rats reduced tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). There is a relationship between performance in the water maze and the production of nitric oxide (NO) and TNF-alpha by serum-treated BV-2 cells, such that serum from rats with better performance was more protective against inflammatory signaling. Discussion: Protection of memory during aging by supplementation of lyophilized acai fruit pulp added to the diet may result from its ability to influence antioxidant and anti-inflammatory signaling.