Billberry extract for brain protection

The objective of this joint research project (Sabine Kuntz, Gießen; Gunter Eckert, Frankfurt) is to test the effects of a standardized encapsulated bilberry extract (BE) on biomarkers such as oxidative and inflammatory parameters, which are both targeting directly mitochondria and lead to mitochondrial dysfunctions. Neuronal PC12 cells, mouse models of aging and Alzheimer`s disease (senescence-accelerated prone mice (SAMP) and C57BJ/6-Thy1-APP751SL) and a human intervention trial with aged volunteers should prove efficacy of BE on markers of mitochondrial function and inflammation in lymphocytes and dissociated brain cells ex vivo. The simultaneous investigation of brain cells and lymphocytes from our mouse models as well as lymphocytes from the intervention trail represents an innovative approach that may finally allow to draw conclusions from processes in the human brain, although this organ is not assessable for biochemical investigations. Our preliminary data show beneficial effects on oxidative parameters in the blood of young and healthy volunteers after ingestion of an anthocyanin-rich beverage over 14 d interventions. A considerable amount of studies assessed the possible mechanisms of anthocyanin action including their interaction with signaling pathways. However, there is scarce information about the impact on mitochondrial function. Our preliminary data show that anthocyanin-rich bilberry extract protects neuronal PC12 cells from nitrosative stress induced mitochondrial dysfunction.  The evaluation of molecular mechanisms will focus on the induction of endogenous protective mechanisms, e.g. enhanced gene and protein expression of PGC1α, PPARγ, CREB, Nrf2/Keap1 or NF-κB/STAT and may identify new links between mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress and inflammation. Identified targets of BE will be validated using specific inhibitors and siRNA approaches in vitro, leading to new strategies for disease prevention (funding is currently pending) . The project is carried out by Ph.D. student Heike Asseburg in cooperation with Dr. Sabine Kuntz and Prof. Clemens Kunz, Justus-Liebig University, Gießen, Germany.

© Prof. Dr. Gunter P. Eckert 2018