Nutrient blend improves function of aging brain: rat study

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Brain Neuron

An antioxidant, amino acid and vitamin blend could help an aging brain and boost memory performance, according to the results of a study on rats.

Conducted using NT-020, a proprietary nutrient blend from NaturaThrapeutics, the study found that supplementation with the compound promoted stem cell proliferation in aging rats and increased cognitive performance.

NT-020 is a combination of blueberry, green tea extract, carnosine and vitamin D3. Previous studies have demonstrated antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity of the nutrient blend, which could help reduce damage in the blood, brain and other tissues in the body. In addition, in vitro ​and in vivo ​studies have also shown that the nutrient blend promotes the proliferation of stem cells.

The current study​aimed to examine if NT-020 has the potential to improve neural stem cell proliferation in aged rats and to see if there is a parallel improvement in cognitive function. The study, which was published in the journal Rejuvenation Research, ​was funded by grants from the company and from the National Institutes of Health.


Researchers from the University of South Florida’s Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair tested two groups of aged (20 month-old) laboratory rats. One group of rats received 135mg/kg per day of the nutrient blend for a period of four weeks. A control group of young (3 month-old) and old (20 month-old) rats received water.

The two groups were compared by evaluating their performance on a variety of behavioral and memory tests, including a spatial navigation test. Although there was no difference in performance in a Morris water maze (MWM) test when comparing all aged rats, when the data for aged impaired rats were compared, there was a significant difference between groups on the last day of training with the treatment group performing better than controls, wrote the researchers.

Improvements in brain function

The NT-020 group demonstrated increased adult neural stem cell proliferation in the two main stem cell niches in the brains and improvement in learning and memory, they said.

The researchers concluded that increased inflammation in the brains of the aged animals led to reduced production of stem cells, but that stem cell renewal created a rejuvenating effect. They found that NT-020 treated animals had fewer activated inflammatory cells in the brain, reflecting a decrease in factors that reduced the production of stem cells.

“The notion that aging is a stem cell disease has been gaining popularity,”​ said study senior author Paula Bickford, PhD, professor of neurosurgery and brain repair at USF. “Our hypothesis is that aging alters the local environment in the brain and other organs and can promote an environment that retards the growth of stem cells. For example, high glucose, which would be seen with diabetes, excessive alcohol and oxidative stress, can lead to reduced neurogenesis.”

Source: NT-020, a Natural Therapeutic Approach to Optimize Spatial Memory Performance and Increase Neural Progenitor Cell Proliferation and Decrease Inflammation in the Aged Rat
Rejuvenation Research; Volume 13, Number 5, 2010
DOI: 10.1089/rej.2009.1011
Authors: S. Acosta, J. Jernberg, C.D. Sanberg, P.R. Sanberg, Brent J. Small,

Carmelina Gemma,and Paula C. Bickford

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