Fisher, D.R., Poulose, S.M., Bielinski, D.F., Shukitt-Hale, B., 2014. Serum metabolites from walnut-fed aged rats attenuate stress-induced neurotoxicity in BV-2 microglial cells. Nutr Neurosci. Aug 25. [Epub ahead of print]
The shift in equilibrium towards excess reactive oxygen or nitrogen species production from innate antioxidant defenses in brain is a critical factor in the declining neural function and cognitive deficit accompanying age. Previous studies from our laboratory have reported that walnuts, rich in polyphenols, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids such as alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid, improve the age-associated declines in cognition and neural function in rats. Possible mechanisms of action of these effects include enhancing protective signaling, altering membrane microstructures, decreasing inflammation, and preventing accumulation of polyubiquitinated protein aggregates in critical regions of the brain. In the current study, we investigated whether the serum collected from aged animals fed with walnut diets (0, 6, and 9%, w/w) would enhance protection on stressed BV-2 microglia in vitro. In the growth medium, fetal bovine serum was substituted with the serum collected from 22-month-old rats fed per protocol for 12 weeks. Walnut diet serum (6 and 9%) significantly attenuated lipopolysaccharide-induced nitrite release compared to untreated control cells and those treated with serum from rats fed 0% walnut diets. The results also indicated a significant reduction in pro-inflammatory tumor necrosis factor-alpha, cyclooxygenase-2, and inducible nitric oxide synthase. These results suggest antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection or enhancement of membrane-associated functions in brain cells by walnut serum metabolites.