Do spermidine supplements prevent dementia?
Spermidine, a polyamine we’ve written about a few times, may help prevent dementia. Austrian doctors, affiliated with the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt, discovered this in a small epidemiological study. The results are promising enough to initiate a clinical trial.
Spermidine as brain food
Spermidine is found in foods such as wheat germ, soybeans and edible mushrooms. The body also produces the substance by metabolizing ornithine. In in vitro and animal studies, spermidine triggers autophagy in cells.
Researchers hope that spermidine supplementation in the elderly can cause brain cells to produce fewer – or maybe even breakdown – beta-amyloid plaques. This could mean that spermidine slows down the aging of brain tissue.
The researchers studied 80 residents aged 60-96 in six different care homes. They measured the concentration of spermidine in the blood and tested their cognitive abilities with the MMSE test. The higher you score on the MMSE, the better.
There was a relationship between the concentration of spermidine in the blood of the study participants and their cognitive scores. The higher the spermidine concentration, the better the scores.
“The positive effect of spermidine in memory performance in fruit flies has already been proven”, summarize the Austrians. [NatNeurosci. 2013;16(10):1453-60.] “Schwarz et al. demonstrated that spermidine supplementation is safe and well-tolerated in mice and older adults.” [Aging (Albany NY). 2018 Jan 8;10(1):19-33.].
“Therefore, a subsequent randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind multicentric longitudinal study is planned, which focuses on the determination of whether the oral administration of spermidine can improve the results of memory tests.”
The Austrians already published the design of their trial. [Alz Res Therapy 11, 36 (2019).] If the results should disappoint, we suspect that the dose used may be to blame. It is modest.