DHA supplementation improves cognitive function via enhancing Aβ-mediated autophagy in Chinese elderly with mild cognitive impairment: a randomised placebo-controlled trial

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BackgroundHigher docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intake is inversely correlated with relative risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The potential benefits of DHA supplementation in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have not been fully examined.ObjectiveOur study aimed to assess the effect of a 24-month DHA supplementation on cognitive function and amyloid beta (Aβ)-mediated autophagy in elderly subjects with MCI.MethodsThis was a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in Tianjin, China. A total of 240 individuals with MCI were identified and randomly divided into intervention (DHA 2 g/day, n=120) and control (corn oil as placebo, n=120) groups. Cognitive function and blood Aβ-related biomarkers were measured at baseline, 6, 12, 18 and 24 months. Data were analysed using generalised estimating equation.ResultsA total of 217 participants (DHA: 109, placebo: 108) completed the trial. During the follow-up, scores of full-scale IQ, verbal IQ and subdomains of information and digit span were significantly higher in the intervention group than the convention group (p<0.05). In the intervention group, blood Aβ-42 level and expression of Aβ protein precursor mRNA were decreased (p<0.05), while Beclin-1 and LC3-II levels and expression of LC3-II mRNA were increased (p<0.05).ConclusionDaily oral DHA supplementation (2 g/day) for 24 months may improve cognitive function and change blood biomarker-related Aβ-mediated autophagy in people with MCI. Larger longer-term confirmatory studies are warranted.Trial registration numberChiCTR-IOR-15006058.

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