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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #366152

Research Project: Nutrition and Regenerative Medicine for Preventing Age-Related Neurological Disorders

Location: Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging

Title: Factors involved in the beneficial effects of blueberries on cognition

item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/29/2019
Publication Date: 8/7/2019
Citation: Shukitt Hale, B. 2019. Factors involved in the beneficial effects of blueberries on cognition. 2019 Wild Blueberry Associaton of North America (WBANA) Neuroscience Roundtable.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Age-related functional declines in cognition may be caused by long-term increases in and susceptibility to oxidative stress and inflammation. Therefore, foods high in polyphenols, such as blueberries, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, could prevent and even reverse the occurrence of the neurochemical and behavioral changes that occur in aging. In our laboratory, in both animal studies and more recently in randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials, blueberry supplementation was able to improve some aspects of cognitive performance among healthy rodents (19-21 mo old F344 rats) and older adults (ages 60-75). Subsequent investigations showed several factors that might be involved in the beneficial effects of the blueberries. For example, there was a relationship between cognitive performance and inflammation, as serum collected from blueberry-supplemented older adults or animals reduced LPS-induced inflammatory-stress-mediated signals (e.g., nitric oxide, p < 0.05) in stressed HAPI microglia in vitro, relative to serum from placebo controls. Furthermore, changes in circulating levels of specific phenolic compounds were correlated with changes in cognition. Additionally, daily consumption of blueberry in rats had differential effects on cognition which was dependent on baseline function, with poor performers, who showed increased inflammation, being the most likely to benefit from blueberry intake. Therefore, dietary interventions with polyphenol-rich berry fruit may be one strategy to forestall or even reverse age-related neuronal deficits, and we are continuing to determine the mechanisms that might be involved in these beneficial effects.