Blueberry juice augments exercise-induced neuroprotection in a Parkinson’s disease model through modulation of GDNF levels

Castro SL, Tapias V, Gathagan R, Emes A, Brandon TE, Smith AD


Exercise and consumption of plant-based foods rich in polyphenols are attractive therapeutic approaches for the prevention and treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Few studies, however, have examined the neuroprotective efficacy of combining these treatment modalities against PD. Therefore we investigated whether combining voluntary running and consumption of blueberry juice (BBJ) was more efficacious against 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) toxicity than either treatment alone. Four weeks of running before and after intrastriatal 6-OHDA reduced amphetamine-induced rotational behavior and loss of substantia nigra dopamine (DA) neurons. BBJ consumption alone had no ameliorative effects, but when combined with exercise, behavioral deficits and nigrostriatal DA neurodegeneration were reduced to a greater extent than exercise alone. The neuroprotection observed with exercise alone was associated with an increase in striatal glial cell-lined derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), whereas combining exercise and BBJ was associated with an increase in nigral GDNF. These results suggest that polyphenols may potentiate the protective effects of exercise and that differential regulation of GDNF expression underlies protection observed with exercise alone versus combined treatment with consumption of BBJ.

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