Study supports Pycnogenol for better memory in Elderly
|Study supports Pycnogenol for better memory in elderly
By Jess Halliday
new study indicates that the flavonol Pycnogenol can help improve
memory in the elderly - findings the researchers say support putative
benefits of antioxidants for cognitive function
is extracted from the bark of the Maritime pine that grows on the
southern coast of France, and is currently used in over 400 dietary
supplements, multi-vitamins and health products. It is made by Horphag
Research and its US distributor is Natural Health Science.
is thought that one of the main causes of ageing is damage to
macromolecules caused by the reactive by-products of oxidative
metabolism - and the ageing brain is particularly susceptible to
In addition to examining the effects of
Pycnogenol on a range of cognitive and biochemical measures in 101
seniors, aged between 60 and 80 years, the new study, which has been
accepted for publication in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, also looked at this oxidative stress hypothesis of ageing and neurological degeneration in elderly individuals.
at the Centre for Neuropsychology at Swinburne University in Melbourne,
Australia, the study used a double-blind, placebo controlled and
matched-pairs design. The participants were divided into two groups
which were matched by age, sex, body mass index, micronutrient intake
They received a daily dose of 150mg of
Pycnogenol over a three month period, and were assessed at baseline,
then one, two, and three months into the treatment. The assessment
involved cognitive tasks, conducted using a computerised system, to
measure attention, working memory, episodic memory and psycho-motor
The researchers, led by Dr Con Stough, found that, after three months, the participants receiving Pycnogenol had "significantly improved" memory, as seen in a factor that combined accuracy scored from spatial working memory and numeric working memory tasks.
addition, the team measured a number of biological markers: levels of
clinical hepatic enzymes, serum lipid profile, human growth hormone and
lipid peroxidation products.
The team found that there was a
statistically significant relationship between memory-based cognitive
variables and lipid peroxidation products. A marker known as
F2-isoprostanes, which developed when unsaturated fatty acids are
oxidised, was seen to be present in high quantities in the nerve cell
Study participants in the Pycnogenol group were seen
to have improved performance on working memory measures and decreased
concentrations of f2-isoprostanes, compared to those in the placebo
"These results support research from a range of
disciplines that suggest that antioxiodants may have an effect in
preserving or enhancing specific mental functions," said Dr Stough in a communication about the results. "Cognitive
research in this area specifically indicates that the putative benefits
associated with antioxidant supplementation are associated with memory."
in the conclusion to the study, Stough said that further research
should expand the study over two to three years, and with more subjects.
addition, since molecular oxidative injury to neural cells over a
period of more than five years is strongly associated with age-related
cognitive impairment developing into Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
disease, he said that further research should look at the effects of
Pycnogenol in preventing these.
Pycnogenol has previously been
researched for other cognitive function benefits, including in children
affected by Attention Deficit Disorder.
Journal of Psycopharmacology
(publication issue not yet known)
examination of the effects of the antioxidant Pycnogenol on cognitive
performance, serum lipid profile, endocrinological and oxidative stress
biomarkers in an elderly population".
Authors: Jacob Ryan, Kevin Croft, Keith Wesnes and Con Stough
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