Researchers at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine report that a compound found in common foods such as red grapes and peanuts may help prevent age-related decline in memory.
Ashok K. Shetty, Ph.D., a professor in the department of molecular and cellular medicine and director of neurosciences at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, has been studying the potential benefit of resveratrol, an antioxidant that is found in the skin of red grapes, as well as in red wine, peanuts, and some berries.
Resveratrol has been widely touted for its potential to prevent heart disease, but Dr. Shetty and a team that includes other researchers from the health science center believe it also has positive effects on the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is critical to functions such as memory, learning, and mood.
“Resveratrol-treated animals also displayed increased net neurogenesis and microvasculature, and diminished astrocyte hypertrophy and microglial activation in the hippocampus,” wrote the investigators.
Because both humans and animals show a decline in cognitive capacity after middle age, the findings may have implications for treating memory loss in the elderly. Resveratrol may even be able to help people afflicted with severe neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.
In a study (“Resveratrol Prevents Age-Related Memory and Mood Dysfunction with Increased Hippocampal Neurogenesis and Microvasculature, and Reduced Glial Activation”) published in Scientific Reports, Dr. Shetty and his research team members reported that treatment with resveratrol had apparent benefits in terms of learning, memory, and mood function in aged rats.
“The results of the study were striking,” according to Dr. Shetty. “They indicated that for the control rats who did not receive resveratrol, spatial learning ability was largely maintained but ability to make new spatial memories significantly declined between 22 and 25 months. By contrast, both spatial learning and memory improved in the resveratrol-treated rats.”
“The study provides novel evidence that resveratrol treatment in late middle age can help improve memory and mood function in old age,” said Dr. Shetty.