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Review
. 2019 Jul 3;10:694.
doi: 10.3389/fphar.2019.00694. eCollection 2019.

Assessing the Efficacy and Mechanisms of Pycnogenol ® on Cognitive Aging From In Vitro Animal and Human Studies

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Free PMC article
Review

Assessing the Efficacy and Mechanisms of Pycnogenol ® on Cognitive Aging From In Vitro Animal and Human Studies

Tamara Simpson et al. Front Pharmacol. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Brain aging is a complex and multifactorial process broadly involving changes in the brain's structure, neuronal activity, and biochemical profile. These changes in brain function have also been linked to age-associated variations in cognitive function. Recent research has suggested a role of increased oxidative stress and reduced cognition in older people. Therefore, studies that examine the effects of antioxidants on cognitive performance are important, particularly in the context of an increase in elderly populations in most Western countries. One such antioxidant, Pycnogenol, is a standardized plant-based extract obtained from the bark of the French maritime pine and has a long historical use to treat inflammation and improve health. More recently, Pycnogenol has been subjected to more than 100 research trials. In vitro and animal studies using the standardized extract have indicated a multimodal action of Pycnogenol, and several human studies have shown improvements in cognitive function after chronic administration. In this paper, we review these studies in the context of understanding both biological and cognitive changes due to Pycnogenol and evaluate possibilities of Pycnogenol to improve neurocognitive function.

Keywords: Pycnogenol®; RCT—randomized controlled trial; aging; cognition; memory.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Structural representation of a procyanidin molecule consisting of catechin and epicatechin subunits which are the main constituents of Pycnogenol (PYC). The catechin and epicatechin units can be linked by different bonds, the main being C4-C8 bonds and C4-C6 bonds as well as C4-C8 bonds with different chain lengths up to dodecamers.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Proposed mechanism of action of PYC as a targeted therapy for preventing cognitive decline. With increasing age, inflammation-reduced antioxidant metabolism leading to increased oxidative stress and damage to fatty acids are common mechanisms that over time can impact on the brain causing structural and functional changes culminating in the outcome of age-associated cognitive decline, cognitive impairment, and/or dementia. PYC potentially inhibits these mechanisms as represented by the x in the diagram due to its scavenging ability to free radicals and protection of proteins (biomolecules) against oxidative damage (Packer et al., 1999; Rohdewald, 2002; Ansari et al., 2008), neuron protection from β amyloid-induced apoptonis (Peng et al., 2002; Gulati, 2014), anti-inflammatory effects (Lau et al., 2004), and reduction of fatty acids (Sivonová et al., 2004).

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