Further improvements in levels of histone acetylation, acetylcholinesterase (AChE) suppression, and Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) were reported.
Additionally, increased Bifidobacterium spp. and lower pH levels were also noted from examined faecal samples, suggesting reduced levels of inflammation.
The authors therefore hypothesise the benefits are a result of gene regulation and the gut microbiome.
“The current data clearly demonstrate that “Anthaplex” can improve cognitive function and working memory together with eye dryness. The possible underlying mechanisms may occur via the modulations of the histone acetylation process and the gut microbiome, particularly in regard to Bifidobacterium spp.”
Histone acetylation is an epigenetic modification that is associated with increasing the propensity for gene transcription - is the first step in gene expression, in which information from a gene is used to construct a functional product such as a protein.
“Anthaplex could therefore be an interesting new functional ingredient for supplements aiming to improve cognitive function and eye dryness.”
Anthocyanins and health
There has been a significant increase in the number of functional food products targeting wellness and disease risk reduction, increasing the demand for novel ingredients. Specifically, natural herbal compounds have been extensively studied over recent years due to their wide-ranging health benefits with minimal adverse side effects.
Anthocyanin-rich foods have been noted to improve cognitive function, through the modulation of inflammation and apoptosis, as well as neurotransmitters and signal transduction. Further benefits to vision and eye health have been observed through the reduction of oxidative stress. There has also been significant evidence highlighting the benefits of dietary fibres for cognition and eye health through the modulation of the microbiome.
Anthaplex is a novel functional ingredient consisting of the extracts of purple waxy corn (Zea mays) and colored sticky rice (Oryza sativa). It is rich in anthocyanins and dietary fiber.
The ingredient has previously demonstrated significant antioxidant activities and can suppress acetylcholinesterase (AChE), monoamine oxidase (MAO), and GABA-transaminase (GABA-T). Thus the researchers of the current study hypothesised it would have a significant benefit to cognitive and eye health.
The researchers recruited 69 healthy volunteers who were randomised into three groups to receive 150ml of soup per day over an eight-week period. The D2 group received 2g of Anthaplex and 2g of fibre within the soup, the D3 received 3g of Anthplex and 4g of fibre, and the placebo group received the soup alone.
Cognitive function was assessed using a non-invasive event-related potential (ERP), collecting objective brain wave readings. Working memory was assessed with a set of tests, including word recognition, picture presentation and simple reaction tests. Further biochemical measurements were obtained from the participants.
It was observed that participants that consumed the Anthaplex soup had improved scores for memory as well as cognitive function through increased N100 amplitudes in the ERP, whilst improving dry eye symptoms. In addition, levels of histone acetylation, AChE suppression, and BDNF were reported. Increased Bifidobacterium spp. were noted from examined faecal samples, paired with lower pH levels.
The authors did not note a significant dose response comparing the two intervention groups.
“These data suggest that “Anthaplex” improves cognitive function and eye dryness via the modulations of the histone acetylation process, gut microbiome, and cholinergic function,” the report summarises.
Explaining the potential mechanisms of action behind the effects on cognition, it adds: “It has been reported that an increase in N100 amplitude reflects an increase in the synchronization of functional neurons during selective attention. This change gives rise to the improvement in the encoding process of information, whereas divided attention can produce a negative impact on working memory.”
They also hypothesise that increased levels of BDNF can improve memory and tear secretion to alleviate eye dryness.
“A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of an Anthocyanin-Rich Functional Ingredient on Cognitive Function and Eye Dryness in Late Adulthood Volunteers: Roles of Epigenetic and Gut Microbiome Modulations”
by Jintanaporn Wattanathorn, Terdthai Tong-un, Wipawee Thukham-mee, Pongsatorn Paholpak and Poonsri Rangseekhajee