A natural antioxidant compound, called fisetin, that is found in strawberries, reduces cognitive deficits and inflammation associated with aging in mice. The work by Salk scientists builds on the team’s previous research findings showing that fisetin may help treat age-related mental decline and conditions like Alzheimer’s or stroke. In the current study, the Salk team fed 3-month-old prematurely aging mice a daily dose of fisetin with their food for 7 months. A second group of prematurely aging mice was fed the same food without fisetin. During the study period, mice took various activity and memory tests. The team also examined levels of specific proteins in the mice related to brain function, responses to stress and inflammation. At 10 months, the differences between these two groups were striking. Mice not treated with fisetin had difficulties with all the cognitive tests as well as elevated markers of stress and inflammation. Brain cells called astrocytes and microglia, which are normally anti-inflammatory, were now driving rampant inflammation. Mice treated with fisetin, on the other hand, were not noticeably different in behavior, cognitive ability or inflammatory markers at 10 months than a group of untreated 3-month-old mice with the same condition. Clinical trials of fisetin with human subjects may be on the horizon.
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