Evidence suggests that flavonoid-rich foods are capable of inducing improvements in memory and cognition in animals and humans. However, there is a lack of clarity concerning whether flavonoids are the causal agents in inducing such behavioral responses. Here we show that supplementation with pure anthocyanins or pure flavanols for 6 weeks, at levels similar to that found in blueberry (2% w/w), results in an enhancement of spatial memory in 18 month old rats. Pure flavanols and pure anthocyanins were observed to induce significant improvements in spatial working memory (p = 0.002 and p = 0.006 respectively), to a similar extent to that following blueberry supplementation (p = 0.002). These behavioral changes were paralleled by increases in hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor (R = 0.46, p<0.01), suggesting a common mechanism for the enhancement of memory. However, unlike protein levels of BDNF, the regional enhancement of BDNF mRNA expression in the hippocampus appeared to be predominantly enhanced by anthocyanins. Our data support the claim that flavonoids are likely causal agents in mediating the cognitive effects of flavonoid-rich foods.
Rendeiro C, Vauzour D, Rattray M, Waffo-Téguo P, Mérillon JM, Butler LT, Williams CM, Spencer JP. Dietary levels of pure flavonoids improve spatial memory performance and increase hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor. PLoS One. 2013 May Molecular Nutrition Group, School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom ; School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom.