Psychopharmacology

, Volume 223, Issue 3, pp 319–330

Blueberry supplementation induces spatial memory improvements and region-specific regulation of hippocampal BDNF mRNA expression in young rats

  • Catarina Rendeiro
  • David Vauzour
  • Rebecca J. Kean
  • Laurie T. Butler
  • Marcus Rattray
  • Jeremy P. E. Spencer
  • Claire M. Williams
Original Investigation

DOI: 10.1007/s00213-012-2719-8

Cite this article as:
Rendeiro, C., Vauzour, D., Kean, R.J. et al. Psychopharmacology (2012) 223: 319. doi:10.1007/s00213-012-2719-8

Abstract

Rationale

Flavonoid-rich foods have been shown to be able to reverse age-related cognitive deficits in memory and learning in both animals and humans. However, to date, there have been only a limited number of studies investigating the effects of flavonoid-rich foods on cognition in young/healthy animals.

Objectives

The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of a blueberry-rich diet in young animals using a spatial working memory paradigm, the delayed non-match task, using an eight-arm radial maze. Furthermore, the mechanisms underlying such behavioural effects were investigated.

Results

We show that a 7-week supplementation with a blueberry diet (2 % w/w) improves the spatial memory performance of young rats (2 months old). Blueberry-fed animals also exhibited a faster rate of learning compared to those on the control diet. These behavioural outputs were accompanied by the activation of extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK1/2), increases in total cAMP-response element-binding protein (CREB) and elevated levels of pro- and mature brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the hippocampus. Changes in hippocampal CREB correlated well with memory performance. Further regional analysis of BDNF gene expression in the hippocampus revealed a specific increase in BDNF mRNA in the dentate gyrus and CA1 areas of hippocampi of blueberry-fed animals.

Conclusions

The present study suggests that consumption of flavonoid-rich blueberries has a positive impact on spatial learning performance in young healthy animals, and these improvements are linked to the activation of ERK–CREB–BDNF pathway in the hippocampus.

Keywords

Flavonoid Blueberry Learning Memory Brain-derived neurotrophic factor MAP kinase CREB Hippocampus 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catarina Rendeiro
    • 1
    • 3
  • David Vauzour
    • 2
  • Rebecca J. Kean
    • 3
  • Laurie T. Butler
    • 3
  • Marcus Rattray
    • 4
  • Jeremy P. E. Spencer
    • 1
  • Claire M. Williams
    • 3
  1. 1.Molecular Nutrition Group, School of Chemistry, Food and PharmacyUniversity of ReadingReadingUK
  2. 2.Department of Nutrition, Norwich Medical School, Faculty of Medicine and Health SciencesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK
  3. 3.School of Psychology and Clinical Language SciencesUniversity of ReadingReadingUK
  4. 4.Reading School of PharmacyUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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