Editor's Note
This study investigated the claim that matured hop bitter acid (MHBA) administration improves cognitive function and depression via vagal nerve activation in model mice. Using a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial design, 100 subjects (aged 45–69 years) were randomly assigned into placebo ( n  = 50) and MHBA ( n  = 50) groups, and received placebo or MHBA capsules daily for 12 weeks. Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT) score assessing divided attention at week 12 was significantly higher ( p  = 0.045) and  β -endorphin at week 12 was significantly lower ( p  = 0.043) in the subjects receiving MHBA. Transthyretin in serum, a putative mild cognitive impairment marker, was significantly higher at week 12 in the MHBA group than in the placebo group ( p  = 0.048). It was concluded that MHBA intake improves cognitive function, attention, and mood state in older adults.
Abstract

Background

Prevention of age-related cognitive decline and depression is becoming urgent because of rapid growing aging populations. Effects of vagal nerve activation on brain function by food ingredients are inadequately investigated; matured hop bitter acid (MHBA) administration reportedly improves cognitive function and depression via vagal nerve activation in model mice.

Objective

We investigated the effects of MHBA supplementation on cognitive function and mood state in healthy older adults with perceived subjective cognitive decline.

Methods

Using a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial design, 100 subjects (aged 45–69 years) were randomly assigned into placebo ( n  = 50) and MHBA ( n  = 50) groups, and received placebo or MHBA capsules daily for 12 weeks.

Results

Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT) score assessing divided attention at week 12 was significantly higher ( p  = 0.045) and  β -endorphin at week 12 was significantly lower ( p  = 0.043) in the subjects receiving MHBA. Transthyretin in serum, a putative mild cognitive impairment marker, was significantly higher at week 12 in the MHBA group than in the placebo group ( p  = 0.048). Subgroup analysis classified by the subjective cognitive decline questionnaire revealed that in addition to improved SDMT scores, memory retrieval assessed using the standard verbal paired-associate learning tests and the Ray Verbal Learning Test at week 12 had significantly improved in the subgroup with perceived subjective cognitive decline and without requirement for medical assistance in the MHBA group compared with that in the placebo group.

Conclusion

This study suggested that MHBA intake improves cognitive function, attention, and mood state in older adults.

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