Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #325462

Research Project: Nutrition, Brain, and Aging

Location: Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging

Title: Red raspberries can improve motor function in aged rats

Author
item Galli, Rachel - Simmons College
item Carey, Amanda - Simmons College
item Luskin, Katherine - Allegheny General Hospital
item Bielinski, Donna - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item Shukitt-hale, Barbara

Submitted to: Journal of Berry Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/10/2016
Publication Date: 6/16/2016
Citation: Galli, R.L., Carey, A.N., Luskin, K.A., Bielinski, D.F., Shukitt Hale, B. 2016. Red raspberries can improve motor function in aged rats. Journal of Berry Research. 6:97-103.

Interpretive Summary: Many foods rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds have been shown to increase health and reduce signs of aging. A number of berry fruits high in these compounds are known to lessen age-related declines in cellular, cognitive and behavioral function in rats. This study evaluated the effectiveness of a red raspberry-supplemented diet on measures of learning, memory and motor performance in aged rats. Red raspberry extract was prepared from fresh whole fruit and incorporated in standard rodent chow to create a 2% diet. Following ten weeks on a non-supplemented or 2% raspberry diet, cognitive and motor performance was assessed using a water maze and a series of five tasks involving both motor and brain function. The supplemented diet significantly improved performance on three of the five motor tasks, but did not affect water-maze performance. Specifically, old rats fed the 2% raspberry diet had significantly better performance on the rod and plank walks, which measure coordination and balance, and on the inclined screen, which measures muscle tone, strength, stamina and balance. Given that falls are the number one health hazard for otherwise healthy older adults, these results may have important implications for increasing healthy aging.

Technical Abstract: BACKGROUND: Many foods rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds have been shown to increase health and reduce markers of aging. A number of berry fruits high in polyphenols are known to ameliorate age-related declines in cellular, cognitive and behavioral function in rats. OBJECTIVES: This study evaluated the effectiveness of a red raspberry-supplemented diet on age-sensitive measures of learning, memory and motor performance in aged (19 mo) F344 rats. METHODS: Red raspberry extract was prepared from fresh whole fruit and incorporated in standard rodent chow to create a 2% diet. Following ten weeks on a control or 2% raspberry diet, cognitive and motor performance was assessed using the Morris Water Maze (MWM) and a battery of five psychomotor tasks. RESULTS: The supplemented diet significantly improved performance on three of the five motor tasks, but did not affect MWM performance. Specifically, old rats fed the 2% raspberry diet had significantly better performance on the rod and plank walks, which measure psychomotor coordination and balance, and on the inclined screen, which measures muscle tone, strength, stamina and balance. CONCLUSIONS: Given that falls are the number one health hazard for otherwise healthy older adults, these results may have important implications for increasing healthy aging.