Anthocyanin-rich açai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) fruit pulp fractions attenuate inflammatory stress signaling in mouse brain BV-2 microglial cells

J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Feb 1;60(4):1084-93. doi: 10.1021/jf203989k. Epub 2012 Jan 20.


Age-related diseases of the brain compromise memory, learning, and movement and are directly linked with increases in oxidative stress and inflammation. Previous research has shown that supplementation with berries can modulate signaling in primary hippocampal neurons or BV-2 mouse microglial cells. Because of their high polyphenolic content, fruit pulp fractions of açai ( Euterpe oleracea Mart.) were explored for their protective effect on BV-2 mouse microglial cells. Freeze-dried açai pulp was fractionated using solvents with different polarities and analyzed using HPLC for major anthocyanins and other phenolics. Fractions extracted using methanol (MEOH) and ethanol (ETOH) were particularly rich in anthocyanins such as cyanidin, delphinidin, malvidin, pelargonidin, and peonidin, whereas the fraction extracted using acetone (ACE) was rich in other phenolics such as catechin, ferulic acid, quercetin, resveratrol, and synergic and vanillic acids. Studies were conducted to investigate the mitigating effects of açai pulp extracts on lipopolysaccharide (LPS, 100 ng/mL) induced oxidative stress and inflammation; treatment of BV-2 cells with acai fractions resulted in significant (p < 0.05) decreases in nitrite production, accompanied by a reduction in inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression. The inhibition pattern was emulated with the ferulic acid content among the fractions. The protection of microglial cells by açai pulp extracts, particularly that of MEOH, ETOH, and ACE fractions, was also accompanied by a significant concentration-dependent reduction in cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38-MAPK), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα), and nuclear factor κB (NF-κB). The current study offers valuable insights into the protective effects of açai pulp fractions on brain cells, which could have implications for improved cognitive and motor functions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthocyanins / administration & dosage*
  • Anthocyanins / analysis
  • Arecaceae / chemistry*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / analysis
  • Fruit / chemistry*
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Microglia / drug effects*
  • Microglia / metabolism
  • NF-kappa B / analysis
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II / analysis
  • Nitrites / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / analysis
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / analysis


  • Anthocyanins
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • NF-kappa B
  • Nitrites
  • Plant Extracts
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases