Blueberry Supplementation Mitigates Altered Brain Plasticity and Behavior after Traumatic Brain Injury in Rats

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2019 Aug;63(15):e1801055. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201801055. Epub 2019 May 29.


Scope: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) compromises neuronal function required for hippocampal synaptic plasticity and cognitive function. Despite the high consumption of blueberries, information about its effects on brain plasticity and function under conditions of brain trauma is limited. The efficacy of dietary blueberry (BB) supplementation to mitigate the effects of TBI on plasticity markers and associated behavioral function in a rodent model of concussive injury are assessed.

Methods and results: Rats were maintained on a diet supplemented with blueberry (BB, 5% w/w) for 2 weeks after TBI. It is found that BB supplementation mitigated a loss of spatial learning and memory performance after TBI, and reduced the effects of TBI on anxiety-like behavior. BB supplementation prevents a reduction of molecules associated with the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) system action on learning and memory such as cyclic-AMP response element binding factor (CREB), calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII). In addition, BB supplementation reverses an increase of the lipid peroxidation byproduct 4-hydroxy-nonenal (4-HNE) after TBI. Importantly, synaptic and neuronal signaling regulators change in proportion with the memory performance, suggesting an association between plasticity markers and behavior.

Conclusion: Data herein indicate that BB supplementation has a beneficial effect in mitigating the acute aspects of the TBI pathology.

Keywords: blueberries; brain-derived neurotrophic factor; cognition; oxidative stress; plasticity; traumatic brain injuries.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Blueberry Plants*
  • Body Weight
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / diet therapy*
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / physiopathology
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Eating
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Bdnf protein, rat
  • Biomarkers
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor