Protective Effects of Blueberry Drink on Cognitive Impairment Induced by Chronic Mild Stress in Adult Rats

Nutr Res Pract. 2017 Feb;11(1):25-32. doi: 10.4162/nrp.2017.11.1.25. Epub 2016 Jun 30.


Background/objectives: Stress-induced cognitive impairment is related to the suppression of hippocampal neurogenesis that results from an increase of oxidative stress. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the effects of administration of a blueberry drink, having a high antioxidant power, on the cognitive performance of adult rats exposed to chronic mild stress.

Materials/methods: Twelve-week-old male Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 48) were randomly divided into four groups: control (CO), stress (ST), control + 5% blueberry drink (CO + B), and stress + 5% blueberry drink (ST + B). After eight weeks, the cognitive performance was assessed using a multiple T-maze water test. Levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and ascorbic acid were measured in the brain, and catecholamine concentrations were measured in plasma.

Results: The brain weights of the rats from the ST and ST + B groups were significantly lower than those of the rats from the CO and CO + B groups. The cognitive performance of the ST group was impaired when compared to that of the CO group. This impairment was significantly improved by the blueberry drink supplementation (P < 0.05). The brain SOD and CAT concentrations were not influenced by the stress or by the blueberry drink. However, the brain levels of GPx and ascorbic acid were significantly lower in the ST group than those in the CO group and were increased by the blueberry drink supplementation. The plasma catecholamine concentrations were affected by chronic mild stress and by the blueberry drink. The plasma norepinephrine and dopamine concentrations were decreased by the chronic stress and improved by the blueberry drink supplementation. The plasma epinephrine level was only influenced by the stress.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that the blueberry drink may protect against the cognitive impairment induced by chronic mild stress.

Keywords: Blueberry; antioxidant; catecholamine; chronic stress; cognitive impairment.