Abnormal glucose metabolism in the brain is recognized to be associated with cognitive decline. Because grapes are rich in polyphenols that produce antioxidative and blood sugar-lowering effects, we investigated how grape consumption affects the expression and/or phosphorylation of neurodegeneration-related brain proteins in aged rats fed a high-fructose–high-fat (HFHF) diet. Wistar rats were maintained on the HFHF diet from the age of 8 weeks to 66 weeks, and then on an HFHF diet containing either 3% or 6% grape powder as an intervention for 12 weeks. Western blotting was performed to measure the expression/phosphorylation levels of several cortical and hippocampal proteins, including amyloid precursor protein (APP), tau, phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K), extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGEs), erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Inclusion of up to 6% grape powder in the diet markedly reduced RAGE expression and tau hyperphosphorylation, but upregulated the expression of Nrf2 and BDNF, as well as the phosphorylation of PI3K and ERK, in the brain tissues of aged rats fed the HFHF diet. Thus, grape powder consumption produced beneficial effects in HFHF-diet-fed rats, exhibiting the potential to ameliorate changes in neurodegeneration-related proteins in the brain.
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