Pterostilbene may improve cognitive function in aging and Alzheimer’s disease

Pterostilbene is a phenolic compound chemically similar to resveratrol. It is found in fruits including grapes and blueberries, known for their beneficial effects on cognition and neuronal function during aging. Pterostilbene is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent and shown to have beneficial effects in the aging brain in research done in 2002 and 2008 . It has powerful agonistic properties on the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) alpha receptor, a receptor complex that is  associated with fatty acid metabolism, inflammation, and oxidative stress regulation. In this study pterostilbene’s effects on neuronal function and cognitive function are tested in mice to determine whether it also has protective effects in age-related pathological events like Alzheimer’s disease.

Five-month-old so called SAMP8 mice both male and female mice were fed with either resveratrol or pterostilbene at an identical dose (120mg/kg of diet) for 8 weeks or control diet. The SAMP8 mice are a model to study amyloid-β protein overproduction/oxidative damage to brain tissue.

In the study evidence is provided that dietary supplementation of pterostilbene to SAMP8 mice improved cognitive function. These finding are accompanied by data that demonstrates that tau phosphorylation at sites associated with AD pathology were downregulated by pterostilbene. This occurred independent of SIRT1 activation and is likely driven through PPAR alpha regulation known to influence MnSOD expression, NF-KB transcription and JNK phosphorylation, these were all shown to be significantly improved by pterostilbene. The resveratrol date showed inferior effectiveness as compared to pterostilbene.

While it is yet to be determined whether the cognitive improvements induced by pterostilbene in the SAMP8 model can be applied to humans, recent reports demonstrate that fruits containing pterostilbene such as blueberries ameliorate cognitive function in aged humans and that PPAR alpha agonists provide central nervous system protection. Therefore, use of pterostilbene may become an effective, natural, therapeutic strategy to improve cognitive function in aging and potentially a strategy to slow down the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

For completion and perspective we calculate the Human Equivalent Dose (HED) for the diet given to the SAMP8 mice. The FDA has specified guidelines for this conversion to Human Equivalent Dose (HED). Using this guideline 120 mg/kg dosing in mice translates into a HED of approx. 9,7mg/kg. Or into 679mg daily dose for a person weighing 70kg. Typical supplements on the market have serving sizes of 50 or 100mg with several studies indicating that pterostilbene is safe also at higher dosing levels.

You can find the study here.

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