Long-term dietary strawberry, spinach, or vitamin E supplementation retards the onset of age-related neuronal signal-transduction and cognitive behavioral deficits

J Neurosci. 1998 Oct 1;18(19):8047-55. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.18-19-08047.1998.


Recent research has indicated that increased vulnerability to oxidative stress may be the major factor involved in CNS functional declines in aging and age-related neurodegenerative diseases, and that antioxidants, e.g., vitamin E, may ameliorate or prevent these declines. Present studies examined whether long-term feeding of Fischer 344 rats, beginning when the rats were 6 months of age and continuing for 8 months, with diets supplemented with a fruit or vegetable extract identified as being high in antioxidant activity, could prevent the age-related induction of receptor-mediated signal transduction deficits that might have a behavioral component. Thus, the following parameters were examined: (1) oxotremorine-enhanced striatal dopamine release (OX-K+-ERDA), (2) cerebellar beta receptor augmentation of GABA responding, (3) striatal synaptosomal 45Ca2+ clearance, (4) carbachol-stimulated GTPase activity, and (5) Morris water maze performance. The rats were given control diets or those supplemented with strawberry extracts (SE), 9.5 gm/kg dried aqueous extract (DAE), spinach (SPN 6.4 gm/kg DAE), or vitamin E (500 IU/kg). Results indicated that SPN-fed rats demonstrated the greatest retardation of age-effects on all parameters except GTPase activity, on which SE had the greatest effect, whereas SE and vitamin E showed significant but equal protection against these age-induced deficits on the other parameters. For example, OX-K+-ERDA enhancement was four times greater in the SPN group than in controls. Thus, phytochemicals present in antioxidant-rich foods such as spinach may be beneficial in retarding functional age-related CNS and cognitive behavioral deficits and, perhaps, may have some benefit in neurodegenerative disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Body Weight
  • Brain Chemistry / physiology
  • Calcium Radioisotopes
  • Cognition Disorders / diet therapy*
  • Corpus Striatum / chemistry
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Diet
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Eating
  • Electrophysiology
  • Fruit*
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / metabolism
  • Male
  • Norepinephrine / physiology
  • Purkinje Cells / chemistry
  • Purkinje Cells / enzymology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Spinacia oleracea*
  • Synaptosomes / chemistry
  • Synaptosomes / enzymology
  • Time Factors
  • Vitamin E / pharmacology*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / analysis
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / physiology


  • Antioxidants
  • Calcium Radioisotopes
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Vitamin E
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine