Many of us reach for strawberries because they taste great, brighten up so many desserts, and pack a bunch of health benefits as well. But did you know that a strawberry component may help fight Alzheimer’s disease? Here’s yet another reason to reach for these luscious berries.
At the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, a research team discovered that when they treated mouse models of aging with a strawberry component known as fisetin, they observed a reduction in cognitive reduction and brain inflammation. That is, fisetin, a flavanol with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers found not only in strawberries but in apples, grapes, cucumbers, and persimmons as well as some other fruits and vegetables, appears to put the brakes on cognitive deterioration.
This is not the first study that has explored the role of fisetin in brain function and cognitive decline. In previous research conducted by many of the same authors, fisetin was found to reduce memory loss in mice with familial Alzheimer’s disease, which makes up only a small percentage of total Alzheimer’s disease cases. That fact lead the authors to explore the impact of fisetin on sporadic Alzheimer’s disease, which is by far the most common form of this dementia.
New study of fisetin and Alzheimer’s disease
Mice who had been engineered to age prematurely were divided into two groups at age 3 months. One group was given fisetin daily in their food for 7 months while the other group was not given the compound.
All the mice underwent a series of behavioral and cognitive tests throughout the study. At ten months, the mice in the nontreatment group showed an increase in markers associated with inflammation and stress, and they also performed poorly on cognitive tasks. The mice in the fisetin group, however, performed well. The study’s main author, Pamela Maher, of the Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory at Salk, said that at 10 months, “the differences between these two groups were striking.”
Not only did the untreated mice not perform well; they also showed an abundance of specific brain cells (i.e., astrocytes and microglia) that are usually associated with inflammation. The treated mice did not show these markers.
Why this study is significant
The findings of these studies on a strawberry component in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease may help researchers develop new strategies for beating this devastating disease as well as other age-associated neurodegenerative conditions. Until we learn more about the role of fisetin in fighting Alzheimer’s disease, we can include more foods that contain this potent antioxidant in our diet and watch for new developments in the research.
Currais A et al. Fisetin reduces the impact of aging on behavior and physiology in the rapidly aging SAMPS mouse. Journal of Gerontology Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 2017 Jun 2
Currais A et al. Modulation of p25 and inflammatory pathways by fisetin maintains cognitive function in Alzheimer’s disease transgenic mice. Aging Cell 2014 Apr; 13(2): 379-90