Brain aging is characterized by the continual concession to battle against insults accumulated over the years. One of the major insults is oxidative stress, which is the inability to balance and to defend against the cellular generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). These ROS cause oxidative damage to nucleic acid, carbohydrate, protein, and lipids. Oxidative damage is particularly detrimental to the brain, where the neuronal cells are largely post-mitotic. Therefore, damaged neurons cannot be replaced readily via mitosis. During normal aging, the brain undergoes morphological and functional modifications resulting in the observed behavioral declines such as decrements in motor and cognitive performance. These declines are augmented by neurodegenerative diseases including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer's disease (AD), and Parkinson's disease (PD). Research from our laboratory has shown that nutritional antioxidants, such as the polyphenols found in blueberries, can reverse age-related declines in neuronal signal transduction as well as cognitive and motor deficits. Furthermore, we have shown that short-term blueberry (BB) supplementation increases hippocampal plasticity. These findings are briefly reviewed in this paper.
Lau FC, Shukitt-Hale B, Joseph JA. The beneficial effects of fruit polyphenols on brain aging. Neurobiol Aging. 2005 December Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111, USA.