The pilot study, published in The FASEB Journal, investigated the immune and pro- and anti-inflammatory effects of nutritional supplementation with a drink (Smartfish) that combines high levels of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA with a mixture of vitamins and botanicals including resveratrol vitamin D3, “thus targeting several facets of AD [Alzheimer’s disease] pathogenesis.”
Led by Professor Milan Fiala from UCLA, the team tested the effects of supplementation with the Smartfish drink for between four and 17 months in 21 people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), pre-MCI or AD.
“Our study is the first to show significant immune and biochemical effects of omega-3 fatty acids with antioxidants in patients with MCI,” reported the team – who revealed that in people with MCI and pre-MCI, the clearance of beta amyloid plaques that have been linked to AD progression was significantly increased, while clearance in those with existing Alzheimer’s disease was increased in a non-significant way.
“In addition, the result suggests cognitive stabilization in comparison to historical controls,” said the team, noting that progression of cognitive impairment as measured by the minimental state examination (MMSE) score was not seen.
Fiala and his colleagues said the data from the pilot study means that the potential cognitive benefits of omega-3 supplementation in people with MCI should be tested in a robust clinical trial.
Commenting on the research findings, Smartfish co-founder Janne Sande Mathisen told us that the firm is pleased with the pilot study results “and will continue with more clinical studies to confirm these effects in MCI patients.”
Fiala and his team tested the effects of the omega-3 drink in 12 participants with MCI [MMSE score above 19], 2 participants with pre-MCI (normal MMSE of above 27), and 7 patients with Alzheimer disease (MMSE less than 19).
In participants with MCI and pre-MCI, they reported that beta amyloid clearance – measured by phagocytosis of amyloid-beta by monocytes) increased from 530 to 1306 mean fluorescence intensity units. The increase in patients with AD was not significant.
Further tests showed that the anti-inflammatory resolvin RvD1 - which has been shown to stimulate Aβ clearance in lab conditions - increased in macrophages in 80% of patients with MCI and pre-MCI.
“Transcription of inflammatory genes’ mRNAs was increased in a subgroup of patients with low transcription at baseline, whereas it was not significantly changed in patients with high transcription at baseline,” the authors added.
Furthermore, the team suggested that supplementation may have helped to stabilise the cognitive status of patients with MCI and pre-MCI – noting that overall MMSE scores did not appear to significantly change over time, as would be expected in those with cognitive impairment.
They reported that group MMSE scores at the first (25.9), second (26.9), and third visit (25.7) were not significantly different.
“However, the MMSE responses were individual and fluctuating suggesting the effect of morbidities and other events on cognition,” said the team.