The Effects of Mold-Fermented Cheese on Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor in Community-Dwelling Older Japanese Women With Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Randomized, Controlled, Crossover Trial

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2019 Dec;20(12):1509-1514.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2019.06.023. Epub 2019 Sep 24.


Objectives: To investigate the effects of mold-fermented cheese (MFC) on brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in community-dwelling older Japanese women with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Design: Randomized controlled crossover trial.

Intervention: Participants were randomly assigned to 2 groups. The MFC group was provided with 33.4 g MFC (camembert cheese) daily for 3 months, and the non-MFC group was provided with the same amount of non-MFC (processed cheese made from mozzarella cheese and cream cheese) for 3 months. After the post-intervention analysis (primary analysis), there was a 3-month washout period, followed by a crossover period (secondary analysis).

Setting and participants: Urban community in Tokyo, Japan. A total of 71 older women aged ≥70 years with MCI based on selected criteria in 689 community-dwelling women.

Measures: Face-to-face interviews were conducted to administer the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) and Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and collect data on medical history. Physical function measures included grip strength, knee extension strength, and usual walking speed. Blood samples were obtained to determine the levels of albumin, vitamin D, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, and BDNF.

Results: Significant interactions were observed in BDNF after intervention of MFC intake in the secondary (F = 5.368, P = .024) and combined analyses (F = 4.354, P = .039) but not the primary analysis. There were no significant changes in the 3 categories of MMSE score (normal, MCI, moderate or severe cognitive impairment), GDS score, physical function, and blood indicators.

Conclusions and implications: Three months of MFC ingestion had beneficial effects on BDNF levels in community-dwelling older women with MCI; however, the BDNF increases did not translate into MMSE scores. Further study into the effects of interventions on cognitive function and depression in older people with MCI is necessary.

Keywords: BDNF; MCI; depression; mold-fermented cheese.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Asians
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / blood*
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Cheese* / microbiology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / blood*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diet therapy*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fermentation*
  • Fungi*
  • Humans
  • Independent Living
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Mental Status and Dementia Tests
  • Muscle Strength
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Walking Speed


  • Biomarkers
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Vitamin D
  • C-Reactive Protein