Effects of spermidine supplementation on cognition and biomarkers in older adults with subjective cognitive decline (SmartAge)-study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Alzheimers Res Ther. 2019 May 1;11(1):36. doi: 10.1186/s13195-019-0484-1.


Background: Given the global increase in the aging population and age-related diseases, the promotion of healthy aging is one of the most crucial public health issues. This trial aims to contribute to the establishment of effective approaches to promote cognitive and brain health in older individuals with subjective cognitive decline (SCD). Presence of SCD is known to increase the risk of objective cognitive decline and progression to dementia due to Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, it is our primary goal to determine whether spermidine supplementation has a positive impact on memory performance in this at-risk group, as compared with placebo. The secondary goal is to examine the effects of spermidine intake on other neuropsychological, behavioral, and physiological parameters.

Methods: The SmartAge trial is a monocentric, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase IIb trial. The study will investigate 12 months of intervention with spermidine-based nutritional supplementation (target intervention) compared with 12 months of placebo intake (control intervention). We plan to recruit 100 cognitively normal older individuals with SCD from memory clinics, neurologists and general practitioners in private practice, and the general population. Participants will be allocated to one of the two study arms using blockwise randomization stratified by age and sex with a 1:1 allocation ratio. The primary outcome is the change in memory performance between baseline and post-intervention visits (12 months after baseline). Secondary outcomes include the change in memory performance from baseline to follow-up assessment (18 months after baseline), as well as changes in neurocognitive, behavioral, and physiological parameters (including blood and neuroimaging biomarkers), assessed at baseline and post-intervention.

Discussion: The SmartAge trial aims to provide evidence of the impact of spermidine supplementation on memory performance in older individuals with SCD. In addition, we will identify possible neurophysiological mechanisms of action underlying the anticipated cognitive benefits. Overall, this trial will contribute to the establishment of nutrition intervention in the prevention of Alzheimer's disease.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03094546 . Registered 29 March 2017-retrospectively registered.

Protocol version: Based on EA1/250/16 version 1.5.

Keywords: Aging; Autophagy; Dietary supplementation; Health; Memory; Nutrition; Polyamines.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / blood
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnostic imaging
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Research Design
  • Spermidine / administration & dosage*


  • Biomarkers
  • Spermidine

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03094546