Berry Compound Reduces Aging Effect
By Rosalie Marion
December 11, 2008
In a new study, aged laboratory animals that ate a diet rich in the
berry and grape compound pterostilbene performed better than those in a group
that did not eat the enriched diet, scientists with the
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have
reported. Pterostilbene reversed measurable negative effects of aging on brain
function and behavioral performance.
Shukitt-Hale and colleagues at the
Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at
Tufts University in Boston, Mass.,
collaborated on the study with chemist
Rimando of the
Natural Products Utilization Research Laboratory in Oxford, Miss.
The study was published recently in the
Journal of Agricultural and Food
For the two-part study, the researchers wanted to determine if
pterostilbene would be effective in reversing the effects of aging on mature
For the first part of the study, they tested seven stilbene compounds
in cell cultures and found that pterostilbene was the most effective at
preventing oxidative stress. For the second part of the study, they fed aged
rats one of three diets: control, or control adjusted to include either low or
high concentrations of pterostilbene.
The results indicated that in aging rats, pterostilbene was effective
in reversing cognitive decline and that improved working memory was linked to
pterostilbene levels in the hippocampus region of the brain.
The study results are the latest in a series of ARS cell culture and
animal model studies published in the last decade that shed light on
relationships between various dietary components and brain function while
aging. The authors noted that there are additional berry compounds showing
similar potential, which they continue to investigate in animal and cell
The researchers followed protocols approved by the Frederick,
Md.-based Association for Assessment and
Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International and a Boston,
Mass.-based Internal Animal Care Review Committee.
ARS is a scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.