ANCHORS A-WHEY was a 12-week randomized controlled trial (RCT) designed to examine the effect of whey protein on large artery stiffness, cerebrovascular responses to cognitive activity and cognitive function in older adults.
Methods: 99 older adults (mean ± SD; age 67 ± 6 years, BMI 27.2 ± 4.7kg/m2, 45% female) were randomly assigned to 50g/daily of whey protein isolate (WPI) or an iso-caloric carbohydrate (CHO) control for 12 weeks (NCT01956994). Aortic stiffness was determined as carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (cfPWV). Aortic hemodynamic load was assessed as the product of aortic systolic blood pressure and heart rate (Ao SBP × HR). Cerebrovascular response to cognitive activity was assessed as change in middle-cerebral artery (MCA) blood velocity pulsatility index (PI) during a cognitive perturbation (Stroop task). Cognitive function was assessed using a computerized neurocognitive battery.
Results: cfPWV increased slightly in CHO and significantly decreased in WPI (p < 0.05). Ao SBP × HR was unaltered in CHO but decreased significantly in WPI (p < 0.05). Although emotion recognition selectively improved with WPI (p < 0.05), WPI had no effect on other domains of cognitive function or MCA PI response to cognitive activity (p > 0.05 for all).
Conclusions: Compared to CHO, WPI supplementation results in favorable reductions in aortic stiffness and aortic hemodynamic load with limited effects on cognitive function and cerebrovascular function in community-dwelling older adults.
Keywords: blood pressure; older adults; vascular stiffness; whey protein isolate.