Animals and humans show increased motor and cognitive declines with aging that are thought to be due to increased susceptibility to the long-term effects of oxidative stress and inflammation. Previous findings have suggested that reversals in these age-related declines might be accomplished by increasing the dietary intake of polyphenolics found in fruits and vegetables, especially those identified as being high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.
We investigated the beneficial effects of two concentrations of Concord grape juice (10% and 50%) compared with a calorically matched placebo for their effectiveness in reversing age-related deficits in behavioral and neuronal functions in aged Fischer 344 rats.
Rats that drank the 10% grape juice from age 19 to 21 mo had improvements in oxotremorine enhancement of K+-evoked release of dopamine from striatal slices and in cognitive performance on the Morris water maze, and the 50% grape juice produced improvements in motor function.
These findings suggest that, in addition to their known beneficial effects on cancer and heart disease, polyphenolics in foods may be beneficial in reversing the course of neuronal and behavioral aging, possibly through a multiplicity of direct and indirect effects that can affect a variety of neuronal parameters.