Blueberry- and spirulina-enriched diets enhance striatal dopamine recovery and induce a rapid, transient microglia activation after injury of the rat nigrostriatal dopamine system

Exp Neurol. 2005 Dec;196(2):298-307. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2005.08.013. Epub 2005 Sep 19.


Neuroinflammation plays a critical role in loss of dopamine neurons during brain injury and in neurodegenerative diseases. Diets enriched in foods with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions may modulate this neuroinflammation. The model of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) injected into the dorsal striatum of normal rats, causes a progressive loss of dopamine neurons in the ventral mesencephalon. In this study, we have investigated the inflammatory response following 6-OHDA injected into the striatum of adult rats treated with diet enriched in blueberry or spirulina. One week after the dopamine lesion, a similar size of dopamine degeneration was found in the striatum and in the globus pallidus in all lesioned animals. At 1 week, a significant increase in OX-6- (MHC class II) positive microglia was found in animals fed with blueberry- and spirulina-enriched diets in both the striatum and the globus pallidus. These OX-6-positive cells were located within the area of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) -negativity. At 1 month after the lesion, the number of OX-6-positive cells was reduced in diet-treated animals while a significant increase beyond that observed at 1 week was now present in lesioned control animals. Dopamine recovery as revealed by TH-immunohistochemistry was significantly enhanced at 4 weeks postlesion in the striatum while in the globus pallidus the density of TH-positive nerve fibers was not different from control-fed lesioned animals. In conclusion, enhanced striatal dopamine recovery appeared in animals treated with diet enriched in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals and coincided with an early, transient increase in OX-6-positive microglia.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Blueberry Plants*
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Count / methods
  • Corpus Striatum / cytology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Food, Formulated
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / metabolism
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Male
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Microglia / physiology*
  • Nerve Degeneration / chemically induced
  • Nerve Degeneration / diet therapy*
  • Nerve Degeneration / physiopathology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Oxidopamine
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Recovery of Function / physiology*
  • Spirulina
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism


  • Aif1 protein, rat
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Oxidopamine
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Dopamine