Tart cherry supplementation improves working memory, hippocampal inflammation, and autophagy in aged rats
- 525 Downloads
High consumption of fruits and vegetables has been associated with reduced risk of debilitating diseases and improved cognition in aged populations. These beneficial effects have been attributed to the phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables, which have previously been shown to be anti-inflammatory and modulate autophagy. Tart cherries contain a variety of potentially beneficial phytochemicals; however, little research has been done to investigate the effects of tart cherry on the aging brain. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine if tart cherry supplementation can improve cognitive and motor function of aged rats via modulation of inflammation and autophagy in the brain. Thirty 19-month-old male Fischer 344 rats were weight-matched and assigned to receive either a control diet or a diet supplemented with 2 % Montmorency tart cherry. After 6 weeks on the diet, rats were given a battery of behavioral tests to assess for strength, stamina, balance, and coordination, as well as learning and working memory. Although no significant effects were observed on tests of motor performance, tart cherry improved working memory of aged rats. Following behavioral testing, the hippocampus was collected for western/densitometric analysis of inflammatory (GFAP, NOX-2, and COX-2) and autophagy (phosphorylated mTOR, Beclin 1, and p62/SQSTM) markers. Tart cherry supplementation significantly reduced inflammatory markers and improved autophagy function. Daily consumption of tart cherry reduced age-associated inflammation and promoted protein/cellular homeostasis in the hippocampus, along with improvements in working memory. Therefore, addition of tart cherry to the diet may promote healthy aging and/or delay the onset of neurodegenerative diseases.
KeywordsAging Cherry Montmorency tart cherries Memory Inflammation Autophagy
This work was supported by USDA intramural funds and the Cherry Marketing Institute, Dewitt, MI. The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of Francisco Ramirez for assistance with the western blots.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Ahmet I, Spangler E, Shukitt-Hale B, Joseph JA, Ingram DK, Talan M (2009) Survival and cardioprotective benefits of long-term blueberry enriched diet in dilated cardiomyopathy following myocardial infarction in rats. PLoS One 4:e7975. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007975 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Bhagwat S, Haytowitz D, Holden J (2014) USDA database for the flavonoid content of selected foods. Release 3:1Google Scholar
- Goyarzu P, Malin DH, Lau FC, Taglialatela G, Moon WD, Jennings R, Moy E, Moy D, Lippold S, Shukitt-Hale B, et al. (2004) Blueberry supplemented diet: effects on object recognition memory and nuclear factor-kappa B levels in aged rats. Nutr Neurosci 7:75–83. doi: 10.1080/10284150410001710410 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Joseph JA, Shukitt-Hale B, Denisova NA, Bielinski D, Martin A, McEwen JJ, Bickford PC (1999) Reversals of age-related declines in neuronal signal transduction, cognitive, and motor behavioral deficits with blueberry, spinach, or strawberry dietary supplementation. J Neurosci 19:8114–8121PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Polidori MC, Pratico D, Mangialasche F, Mariani E, Aust O, Anlasik T, Mang N, Pientka L, Stahl W, Sies H, et al. (2009) High fruit and vegetable intake is positively correlated with antioxidant status and cognitive performance in healthy subjects. J Alzheimers Dis 17:921–927. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2009-1114 PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Poulose SM, Fisher DR, Bielinski DF, Gomes SM, Rimando AM, Schauss AG, Shukitt-Hale B (2014b) Restoration of stressor-induced calcium dysregulation and autophagy inhibition by polyphenol-rich acai (Euterpe spp.) fruit pulp extracts in rodent brain cells in vitro. Nutrition 30:853–862. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2013.11.011 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Rendeiro C, Vauzour D, Rattray M, Waffo-Teguo P, Merillon JM, Butler LT, Williams CM, Spencer JP (2013) Dietary levels of pure flavonoids improve spatial memory performance and increase hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor. PLoS One 8:e63535. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0063535 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Seymour EM, Lewis SK, Urcuyo-Llanes DE, Tanone II, Kirakosyan A, Kaufman PB, Bolling SF (2009) Regular tart cherry intake alters abdominal adiposity, adipose gene transcription, and inflammation in obesity-prone rats fed a high fat diet. J Med Food 12:935–942. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2008.0270 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Shukitt-Hale B, Galli RL, Meterko V, Carey A, Bielinski DF, McGhie T, Joseph JA (2005) Dietary supplementation with fruit polyphenolics ameliorates age-related deficits in behavior and neuronal markers of inflammation and oxidative stress. Age (Dordr) 27:49–57. doi: 10.1007/s11357-005-4004-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Shukitt-Hale B, Bielinski DF, Lau FC, Willis LM, Carey AN, Joseph JA (2015) The beneficial effects of berries on cognition, motor behaviour and neuronal function in ageing. Br J Nutr:1–8Google Scholar
- Whishaw IQ (1985) Formation of a place learning-set by the rat: a new paradigm for neurobehavioral studies. Physiol Behav 35:139–143Google Scholar
- Williams CM, El Mohsen MA, Vauzour D, Rendeiro C, Butler LT, Ellis JA, Whiteman M, Spencer JP (2008) Blueberry-induced changes in spatial working memory correlate with changes in hippocampal CREB phosphorylation and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels. Free Radic Biol Med 45:295–305. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2008.04.008 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar