Neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury remains a significant cause of morbidity and mortality and lacks effective therapies for prevention and treatment. Recently, interest in the biology of polyphenol compounds has led to the discovery that dietary supplementation with foods rich in polyphenols (e.g. blueberries, green tea extract) provides neuroprotection in adult animal models of ischemia and Alzheimer's disease. We sought to determine whether protection of the neonatal brain against a hypoxic-ischemic insult could be attained through supplementation of the maternal diet with pomegranate juice, notable for its high polyphenol content. Mouse dams were provided ad libitum access to drinking water with pomegranate juice, at one of three doses, as well as plain water, sugar water, and vitamin C water controls during the last third of pregnancy and throughout the duration of litter suckling. At postnatal day 7, pups underwent unilateral carotid ligation followed by exposure to 8% oxygen for 45 min. Brain injury was assessed histologically after 1 wk (percentage of tissue area loss) and biochemically after 24 h (caspase-3 activity). Dietary supplementation with pomegranate juice resulted in markedly decreased brain tissue loss (>60%) in all three brain regions assessed, with the highest pomegranate juice dose having greatest significance (p ≤ 0.0001). Pomegranate juice also diminished caspase-3 activation by 84% in the hippocampus and 64% in the cortex. Ellagic acid, a polyphenolic component in pomegranate juice, was detected in plasma from treated but not control pups. These results demonstrate that maternal dietary supplementation with pomegranate juice is neuroprotective for the neonatal brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)858-864
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2005


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