Long-term consumption of oleamide could improve memory and cognitive function of elder Japanese – Meiji-funded RCT

By Hui Ling Dang

- Last updated on GMT

Continuous consumption of oleamide, produced during the fermentation process of camembert cheese, could potentially preserve or improve cognitive function. ©Getty Images
Continuous consumption of oleamide, produced during the fermentation process of camembert cheese, could potentially preserve or improve cognitive function. ©Getty Images

Related tags Japan Meiji Cheese Cognitive function Memory Dairy

Findings from a new study suggest that continuous consumption of oleamide, produced during the fermentation process of camembert cheese, could potentially preserve or improve cognitive function of elderly Japanese individuals.

Camembert cheese, a dairy product fermented using the white mould Penicillium camemberti ​(P. camemberti​), has been shown in vivo to enhance cognitive function.

To investigate the potential of oleamide, derived from the fermentation of P. camemberti​, as an active component that benefits both cognitive function and sleep quality, a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial funded by Meiji Co Ltd was conducted in Tokyo.

Sixty Japanese individuals aged between 50 and 75 who were aware of their cognitive decline were randomly and equally divided into three groups. Among them, 58 completed the study and their results were analysed.

The researchers developed a milk-based culture of white mould (MCW) enriched with oleamide.

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The MCW group was given capsules containing 300mg of freeze-dried MCW powder, and the oleamide group received capsules comprising oleamide. Both capsules were formulated to administrate equivalent doses of 60μg oleamide per serving.

The placebo group took capsules that primarily contained cellulose. All participants took four capsules daily for 12 weeks.

Serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is known to play a vital role in cognitive function. In this study, it was found that the oleamide group had significantly higher BDNF levels than those of the placebo group (p = 0.005) after 12 weeks of intake.

Moreover, the placebo group showed a negative rate of change in serum BDNF (−10.5% ± 19.7%), whereas the MCW and oleamide groups presented positive changes (2.0% ± 27.1% and 1.3% ± 13.5% respectively).

Cognitrax is an online cognitive function assessment test. Following the intervention, Cognitrax scores increased in all groups compared to baseline, with no significant differences among the groups.

Secondary outcomes were determined using the Japanese versions of cognitive function test MCI Screen, and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI-J), whereby higher scores indicate more acute sleep disturbances.

The changes in MPI score of the MCI Screen test at 12 weeks was significantly greater in the MCW and oleamide groups (p = 0.013 and p < 0.001 respectively) than in the placebo group.

Additionally, immediate free recall and delayed free recall scores (clinical assessment of memory performance), a sub-category of the MCI Screen test, also markedly increased in the two groups, as compared to the placebo group.

As for the PSQI-J results, both MCW and oleamide groups had significantly lower overall scores than baseline (p = 0.002 and p = 0.003 respectively), after 12 weeks of intervention.

The two groups also showed significant improvement in subjective sleep quality and sleep latency (p < 0.001 and p = 0.033; and p < 0.001 and p = 0.014 respectively).

Conversely, the placebo group exhibited no significant changes.
“Although the primary outcome measured by Cognitrax was not achieved in this study, our findings well indicate that continuous consumption of MCW and oleamide is safe, effectively preserves cognitive abilities— particularly working and short-term memory — and improves sleep state in older Japanese individuals,” ​the researchers wrote.

Crucial for ageing population

Ageing generally leads to a decline in short-term and working memory, which are essential for processing verbal, audio, visual, and spatial information encountered in daily life.

It has been extensively debated that enhancing and maintaining these memory functions could inhibit the onset and progression of dementia.

“In an ageing society, strategies to prevent cognitive decline are crucial. Our study suggests that consumption of oleamide and oleamide-rich foods may aid in this endeavour.

“The findings are also consistent with previous studies demonstrating that continuous intake of camembert cheese raises serum BDNF levels, and consequently cognitive function. The association was partially attributed to the presence of oleamide in the cheese.”

Furthermore, the current study revealed that the intake of MCW and oleamide exhibited similar changes not only in serum BDNF levels, but also in the MCI Screen.

“In general, consuming mixtures of different elements like extracts or fermented products may not yield the same effects as consuming a single component. The current findings indicate that MCW and oleamide have similar efficacy on human cognitive function.”

According to the researchers, this is the first clinical trial to report the effect of oleamide on cognitive function and human sleep.

They highlighted that further studies to provide more evidence on the efficacy of MCW and oleamide on working memory and short-term memory, as well as sleep function, are warranted for future applications.

“This would allow us to better understand the underlying mechanism of action [of oleamide] and to clarify its generalisability. Future studies focusing on people with sleep disorders could also be conducted to verify the benefits of oleamide on sleep quality.”


Source: Frontiers in Nutrition


“Milk-based culture of Penicillium camemberti and its component oleamide affect cognitive function in healthy elderly Japanese individuals: a multi-arm randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study”

Authors: Mayuki Sasaki, et al

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