Tart cherries contain an array of polyphenols that can decrease inflammation and oxidative stress (OS), which contribute to cognitive declines seen in aging populations. Previous studies have shown that polyphenols from dark-colored fruits can reduce stress-mediated signaling in BV-2 mouse microglial cells, leading to decreases in nitric oxide (NO) production and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression. Thus, the present study sought to determine if tart cherries—which improved cognitive behavior in aged rats—would be efficacious in reducing inflammatory and OS signaling in HAPI rat microglial cells. Cells were pretreated with different concentrations (0–1.0 mg/mL) of Montmorency tart cherry powder for 1–4 h, then treated with 0 or 100 ng/mL lipopolysaccharide (LPS) overnight. LPS application increased extracellular levels of NO and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), and intracellular levels of iNOS and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). Pretreatment with tart cherry decreased levels of NO, TNF-α, and COX-2 in a dose- and time-dependent manner versus those without pretreatment; the optimal combination was between 0.125 and 0.25 mg/mL tart cherry for 2 h. Higher concentrations of tart cherry powder and longer exposure times negatively affected cell viability. Therefore, tart cherries (like other dark-colored fruits), may be effective in reducing inflammatory and OS-mediated signals.
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