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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #337228

Title: The relationship between anthocyanins found in berry fruit, inflammation, and cognitive function in older adults

item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara
item Miller, Marshall
item Thangthaeng, Nopporn
item Fisher, Derek
item SANDHU, AMANDEEP - Illinois Institute Of Technology
item BURTON-FREEMAN, BRITT - Illinois Institute Of Technology

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/22/2016
Publication Date: 2/22/2017
Citation: Shukitt Hale, B., Miller, M.G., Thangthaeng, N., Fisher, D.R., Sandhu, A., Burton-Freeman, B. 2017. The relationship between anthocyanins found in berry fruit, inflammation, and cognitive function in older adults [abstract]. 9th International Workshop on Anthocyanins. p. 16.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Research in both human and animals has demonstrated that cognitive function decreases with age, to include deficits in processing speed, executive function, memory, and spatial learning. These functional declines may be caused by long-term increases in and susceptibility to oxidative stress and inflammation. Blueberries and strawberries, which are high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory polyphenolics, particularly anthocyanins, can prevent and even reverse age-related neuronal deficits in animal models of aging. In recent clinical studies conducted by our laboratory, healthy older adults (ages 60-75) were tested in randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials in which they consumed freeze-dried berry fruit (equivalent to 1 cup blueberries or 2 cups strawberries per day) or placebo. Participants completed a battery of cognitive tests at baseline, and again following 45 and 90 days of intervention. As observed in the animal research, berry fruit supplementation was able to improve some aspects of cognitive performance among older adults, particularly measures of executive function. Specifically, participants in the blueberry group showed significantly fewer repetition errors in the California Verbal Learning Test (p = 0.031, partial eta-squared = 0.126) and reduced switch cost on a task switching test (p = 0.033, partial eta-squared = 0.09) across study visits, relative to controls. Additionally, fasting and 2-hour postprandial levels of 60 anthocyanins and phenolic acids were measured in plasma at each of the study time points. From baseline to 90 days, change in CVLT-II repetition errors was related to change in fasting levels of hippuric acid and postprandial levels of syringic acid (p = 0.002; multiple r-squared: 0.552) while change in switch errors was predicted by change in postprandial levels of plasma ferulic acid-glucuronide (p = 0.031; multiple r-squared: 0.258) among participants that consumed blueberry. Therefore, dietary interventions with berries may be one strategy to forestall or even reverse age-related neuronal deficits via decreases in inflammation.