The vulnerability to oxidative stress and cognitive decline continue to increase during both normal and pathological aging. Dietary changes and sedentary life style resulting in mid-life obesity and type 2 diabetes, if left uncorrected, further add to the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer disease (AD) in the later stages of life. Certain antioxidant agents such as dietary polyphenols, taken in adequate quantities, have been suggested to improve the cognitive processes. In this study, we examined the effect of oral administration of dark chocolate (DC) containing 70% cocoa solids and 4% total polyphenol content for three months at a dose of 500 mg/Kg body weight per day to 17-month-old monosodium glutamate treated obese Sprague-Dawley rats, earlier characterized as a nontransgenic AD (NTAD) rat model after reversal of obesity, diabetes, and consequent cognitive impairments. The results demonstrated that DC reduced the hyperglycemia, inhibited the cholinesterase activity in the hippocampal tissue homogenates, and improved the cognitive performance in spatial memory related Barnes maze task. Histological studies revealed an increase in cell volume in the DC treated rats in the CA3 region of the hippocampus. These findings demonstrated the benefits of DC in enhancing cognitive function and cholinergic activity in the hippocampus of the aged NTAD rats while correcting their metabolic disturbances.
Keywords: Alzheimer disease; cognitive impairment; dark chocolate; diabesity; monosodium glutamate.