A compound found in common foods such as red
grapes and peanuts may help prevent age-related decline in memory, according to
new research published by a faculty member in the Texas A&M Health Science
Center College of Medicine.
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 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.
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
In a study published online Jan. 28 in Scientific
Reports, 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," Shetty said. "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
Shetty said neurogenesis (the growth and
development of neurons) approximately doubled in the rats given resveratrol
compared to the control rats. The resveratrol-treated rats also had
significantly improved microvasculature, indicating improved blood flow, and
had a lower level of chronic inflammation in the hippocampus.
"The study provides novel evidence that
resveratrol treatment in late middle age can help improve memory and mood
function in old age," Shetty said.