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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012 Oct;223(3):319-30. doi: 10.1007/s00213-012-2719-8. Epub 2012 May 9.

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

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1
Molecular Nutrition Group, School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy, University of Reading, Reading, RG6 6AP, UK.

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.

PMID:
22569815
DOI:
10.1007/s00213-012-2719-8
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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