Supplementation of antioxidants to the diet has been proved to be beneficial in aging and after brain injury. Furthermore, it has been postulated that the locus coeruleus promotes survival of dopamine neurons. Thus, this study was performed to elucidate the effects of a blueberry-enriched diet on fetal ventral mesencephalic tissue in the presence or absence of locus coeruleus utilizing the in oculo grafting method. Sprague-Dawley rats were given control diet or diet supplemented with 2% blueberries, and solid tissue pieces of fetal locus coeruleus and ventral mesencephalon were implanted as single and co-grafts. The results revealed that the presence of locus coeruleus tissue or the addition of blueberries enhanced the survival of ventral mesencephalic tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-positive neurons, whereas no additive effects were observed for the two treatments. The density of TH-positive nerve fibers in ventral mesencephalic tissue was significantly elevated when it was attached to the locus coeruleus or by blueberry treatment, whereas the innervation of dopamine-beta-hydroxylase-positive nerve fibers was not altered. The presence of locus coeruleus tissue or bluberry supplementation reduced the number of Iba-1-positive microglia in the ventral mesencephalic portion of single and co-grafts, respectively, whereas almost no OX6 immunoreactivity was found. Furthermore, neither the attachment of ventral mesencephalic tissue nor the addition of blueberries improved the survival of TH-positive neurons in the locus coerulean grafts. To conclude, locus coeruleus and blueberries are beneficial for the survival of fetal ventral mesencephalic tissue, findings that could be useful when grafting tissue in Parkinson's disease.
Copyright 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.