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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #344208

Title: The relationship between berry polyphenols, inflammation, and cognitive function in older adults

item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara
item Miller, Marshall
item SANDHU, AMANDEEP - Illinois Institute Of Technology
item Fisher, Derek
item SCOTT, TAMMY - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item BURTON-FREEMAN, BRITT - Illinois Institute Of Technology

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/8/2017
Publication Date: 10/3/2017
Citation: Shukitt Hale, B., Miller, M.G., Sandhu, A.K., Fisher, D.R., Scott, T.M., Burton-Freeman, B. 2017. The relationship between berry polyphenols, inflammation, and cognitive function in older adults [abstract]. E:\Papers\174-TopR-118.pdf.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Abstract Cognitive function changes with age, with specific deficits typically arising 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. Strawberries and blueberries, which are high in polyphenols with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, can prevent and even reverse age-related neuronal deficits in animal models of aging. In recent double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies conducted by our laboratory, healthy older adults (ages 60-75) consumed 24g of freeze-dried berry fruit (equivalent to 1 cup blueberries or 2 cups strawberries) per day, or a placebo powder for 90 days. Participants completed a battery of cognitive tests at baseline, 45 and 90 days following intervention. Berry polyphenols and their metabolites, such as anthocyanins, urolithins and phenolic acids, including their conjugates were measured in plasma at fasting and 2-hour postprandially on each test day. Regression analysis showed that changes in circulating levels of specific phenolic compounds were correlated with the observed changes in cognition. Specifically, participants in the blueberry group showed enhanced executive function as evidenced by significantly fewer repetition errors in the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT-II; p = 0.031) and reduced switch cost on a task switching test (p = 0.033) across study visits, relative to controls. Participants in the strawberry group showed enhanced learning and memory as evidenced by significantly improved probe trial performance in a virtual water maze during the midpoint visit (p = 0.020) and improved word recognition in the CVLT (p = 0.014). Therefore, dietary interventions with polyphenol-rich berry fruit may be one strategy to forestall age-related neuronal deficits and preserve cognitive function.