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Therefore, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the possible effect of bilberry fruit (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) supplement in a daily diet on the cognitive behaviour of the rats and the expression of paravalbumin (PV) in populations of hippocampal neurons. It has been postulated that the antioxidants present in bilberry fruit may act as neuroprotective factors playing also a significant role as memory enhancements. Forty Wistar rats with a similar average body weight (460 ± 0.4 g) were divided into four groups (n=10 per group). The control group received standard feed (210 g/week), whereas animals of experimental groups received standard feed supplemented with bilberry (per os) at consumed doses of 2 g (group I), 5 g (group II), and 10 g/kg b.w./ /day (group III). After three months of feeding with bilberry, the modified elevated plus-maze test (mEPM) was performed. After 32 weeks of feeding, brains were collected and PV-immunoreactive (ir) neurons were immunohistochemically visualized. In the modified elevated plus-maze test, transfer latency examined 2 h and 24 h after the acquisition session was significantly shorter (p<0.05) in the group II in comparison with the control group. In CA1 and CA2/CA3 hippocampal fields as well as dentate gyrus of all experimental groups, a significant (p<0.05) decrease in number of PV-ir neurons were found. In relation to the control group, the mean subpopulation of PV-ir neurons found in groups II and III were significantly reduced. The subpopulations of PV-ir neurons found in DG of all experimental groups were significantly reduced in comparison to the control. In conclusion the in the present paper we demonstrated a relationship between the diet rich in a bilberry fruit and process of memory as well as numbers of calcium- binding protein-expressing hippocampal neurons. Our results may be source of basic knowledge for further research aiming at neuroprotective role of the bilberry fruit.
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