Researchers fed the antioxidant fisetin, found in strawberries and other fruits and vegetables, to mice for seven months and found that the compound partially protected the animals from age-associated cognitive decline.
Fisetin’s effects correlated with the restoration of neuronal function and less brain inflammation.
The results, which follows previous work with fisetin on a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, were reported in a study titled, “Fisetin Reduces the Impact of Aging on Behavior and Physiology in the Rapidly Aging SAMP8 Mouse,” published in the Journals of Gerontology Series A.
Age-associated neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease arise from genetic and environmental factors, but also from injuries to brain cells that accumulate with aging. Therefore, to reach an effective treatment, the Salk Institute researchers looked for compounds that might slow down age-related processes.
They selected the natural flavonoid fisetin based on previous results showing the compound’s ability to prevent memory loss in Alzheimer’s mice. The scientists extended their studies to mice that exhibit a progressive, age-associated decline in brain function similar to human Alzheimer’s patients: the SAMP8 mouse.
The Salk team fed 3-month-old prematurely aging mice a daily dose of fisetin with their food for seven months. They performed several memory and activity testes and compared their performance with mice fed the same food without fisetin. Researchers also examined levels of specific proteins related to neuronal function and inflammation in the mice.
They found that at 10 months old, the mice fed with fisetin behaved and were cognitively similar to 3-month-old mice with the same condition, unlike mice who weren’t fed the compound. They also had low levels of inflammatory markers when compared with normally fed mice at the same age. The team found no evidence of acute toxicity in the fisetin-treated mice, even at high doses of the compound.
Since aging is an important risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s, the study’s authors would like to conduct future clinical trials assessing the antioxidant in humans.
“Companies have put fisetin into various health products but there hasn’t been enough serious testing of the compound,” Pamela Maher, senior author of the study, said in a press release. “Based on our ongoing work, we think fisetin might be helpful as a preventative for many age-associated neurodegenerative diseases, not just Alzheimer’s, and we’d like to encourage more rigorous study of it.”