Context: The changes in verbal learning and working memory that often occur with aging may result in reduced social and intellectual interactions. These changes significantly affect an individual's quality of life. As humans age, the body's ability to regulate and maintain calcium levels is diminished. Pharmacological manipulation of the entry of free calcium (Ca2+) has been shown to be effective in increasing some aspects of cognitive function in the aged brain. Apoaequorin has been shown in laboratory studies to regulate levels of intracellular calcium in neuronal cells and to provide protection against ischemic cell death.
Objective: The study was designed to assess the effects of a supplement of apoaequorin on verbal learning and working memory.
Design: The current study, the Madison Memory Study, was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
Setting: The study occurred in Madison, WI, USA.
Participants: Participants were 218 community-dwelling adults, aged 40-91 y, with self-reported memory concerns.
Intervention: Participants were randomly assigned to receive either apoaequorin (apoaequorin group) or a matched placebo (control group) for 90 d.
Outcome measures: The study used quantitative, computerized tools for cognitive assessment the CogState International Shopping List (ISL) and the CogState ISL-Delayed Recall (ISL-DR). Scores from computerized cognitive tasks were measured at baseline and at several points during the 90-d study.
Results: No significant differences existed between the intervention and control groups in any parameter at baseline. The intervention group (apoaequorin group) showed a statistically significant improvement in verbal learning and recall on the ISL and the ISL-DR, respectively, during the 90-d study. Apoaequorin was tolerated very well in the study.
Conclusions: The results indicated a strong relationship between apoaequorin and improvements on a quantitative measure of cognitive function, specifically verbal learning. The study found that apoaequorin is a well-tolerated supplement that improved cognitive function in aging adults. The results suggest potential utility for apoaequorin in addressing the declines in cognitive function associated with aging.