Cognitive function and ageing: Glycerophospholipids may be a 'useful intervention' — review

By Cheryl Tay

- Last updated on GMT

Modifying nutritional intake via supplementation could effectively slow down age-related cerebral structural decline. ©iStock
Modifying nutritional intake via supplementation could effectively slow down age-related cerebral structural decline. ©iStock
Modifying nutritional intake to include glycerophospholipids (GPL) may help to maintain cerebral structural integrity in old age, say researchers in Australia.

Academics at Melbourne's Swinburne University of Technology and Deakin University reviewed research on the topic so far, and found that a substantial number of studies have indicated that at both the macro- and microstructural levels, cerebral structural integrity is reduced with age.

In a review article published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, ​they wrote that modifying nutritional intake via supplementation could effectively slow down age-related cerebral structural decline.

Several clinical trials involving older adults have shown that chronic supplementation with omega-3, B vitamins, or resveratrol may lower the rate of decline, or even repair cerebral tissue.

The researchers wrote that modifying nutritional intake was "quickly becoming recognised as a means of supporting cerebral structure with age, with a number of trials indicating that chronic supplementation with B vitamins, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, or resveratrol mediates reduced cerebral deterioration over time, perhaps even facilitating repair".

GPL for geriatrics

Additionally, a number of animal studies have found that supplementation with GPL may support cerebral structure, but these effects have yet to be explored in humans.

Despite this, however, the paper's authors stated that there were several factors "predicting poorer cerebral structure in older humans, which GPL supplementation appears to beneficially modify or protect against"​.

These factors included increased risk of oxidative stress, higher concentrations of pro-inflammatory messengers, and poorer cardiovascular and cerebrovascular function.

This has led scientists to hypothesise that GPL supplementation may benefit cerebral structure in seniors, which will in turn have an impact on cognitive function.

"The consumption of phospholipids (PL) and in particular the glycerophospholipids (GPL), may also benefit cerebral structure and subsequently cognitive function in older adults.

"The GPL species phosphatidylcholine (PC), phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), and phosphatidylserine (PS) are abundant in mammalian cell membranes, and there is growing evidence that provision of these GPL (particularly PC and PS) can improve cognitive function in animals via oral supplementation,"​ they noted.

Anti-ageing avenues

The researchers concluded: "Improving the trajectory of age-related cerebral deterioration and therefore, cognitive decline through readily accessible interventions such as nutritional supplementation may help lower the risk and delay the onset of age related conditions, such as age-associated memory impairment and mild cognitive impairment.

"Moreover, it may be possible to delay the onset of pathological conditions such as dementia, thereby contributing to a reduced incidence of this disease.

"Given the ease at which nutrition can be modified, and the relative absence of harmful side effects, nutritional supplementation, particularly with GPL, may well be a useful intervention for supporting neurocognitive health with increasing age."


Source: Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience

"Glycerophospholipid Supplementation as a Potential Intervention for Supporting Cerebral Structure in Older Adults"

Authors: Jeffery M. Reddan, et al.


Healthy Ageing APAC Summit 2018: Our next event will assess how the food and nutrition industry can meet the needs of APAC's rapidly-ageing populations of today and tomorrow. The event, in Singapore on 12 and 13 June, will bring together policymakers, academics and industry experts from the likes of Nestlé, Blackmores, Swisse and Japanese 'engay' food pioneers Nutri co. Find out more here​.

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