COUNTRIES: United States
CONDUCTED BY: Neuroscience and Aging USDA-ARS, HNRCA at Tufts University Boston MA United States
PUBLISHED ON: The FASEB Journal
Long-term effects of oxidative stress and inflammatory insults are thought to contribute to the decrements in cognitive performance seen in aging and neurodegenerative diseases. In previous studies, we have shown the beneficial effects of various dark-colored berry fruits in reversing age-related deficits in behavioral and neuronal function when fed to aged rats. However, it is unclear if the benefits of blueberries to brain health are a global phenomenon or if blueberries are more beneficial to only a subset of the population. Because chronic neuroinflammation is believed to be an underlying factor in age-related cognitive decline, it is possible that blueberry supplementation would have differential effects based on baseline cognitive performance. To explore the effect of individual differences on the efficacy of dietary blueberries, aged rats were behaviorally assessed in the radial arm water maze (RAWM) and divided into good, average, and poor learners based on reference (RM) and working memory (WM) errors. Half the rats in each group were then fed a control or a 2% blueberry (BB) diet for 8 weeks, before being re-tested in the RAWM. Latency in the RAWM was significantly (p<0.05) reduced in the BB-fed poor performers from pre- to post-test. WM and RM errors were increased in the control-fed good performers from pre- to post-test, as were RM errors in the BB-fed good performers (p<0.05). Behavioral findings reflect individual rats’ neuroinflammatory status. Therefore, daily consumption of blueberries may reverse some age-related deficits in cognition, as well as preserve function among those with intact cognitive ability.