Age-related cognitive decline (ARCD) is of major societal concern in an ageing population, with the development of dietary supplements providing a promising avenue for amelioration of associated deficits. Despite initial interest in the use of phospholipids (PLs) for ARCD, in recent years there has been a hiatus in such research. Because of safety concerns regarding PLs derived from bovine cortex, and the equivocal efficacy of soybean-derived PLs, there is an important need for the development of new PL alternatives. Phospholipids derived from milk proteins represent one potential candidate treatment.
In order to reduce the effects of age-associated memory impairment (AAMI) the Phospholipid Intervention for Cognitive Ageing Reversal (PLICAR) was developed to test the efficacy of a milk protein concentrate rich in natural, non-synthetic milk phospholipids (Lacprodan® PL-20). PLICAR is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled parallel-groups study where 150 (N = 50/group) AAMI participants aged > 55 years will be randomized to receive a daily supplement of Lacprodan® PL-20 or one of two placebos (phospholipid-free milk protein concentrate or inert rice starch) over a 6-month (180-day) period. Participants will undergo testing at baseline, 90 days and 180 days. The primary outcome is a composite memory score from the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test. Secondary outcomes include cognitive (verbal learning, working memory, prospective and retrospective memory, processing speed and attention), mood (depression, anxiety, stress and visual analogue scales), cardiovascular (blood pressure, blood velocity and pulse wave pressure), gastrointestinal microbiota and biochemical measures (oxidative stress, inflammation, B vitamins and Homocysteine, glucoregulation and serum choline). Allelic differences in the Apolipoprotein E and (APOE) and Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene will be included for subgroup analysis. A subset (N = 60; 20/group)) will undergo neuroimaging using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) in order to further explore in vivo central mechanisms of action of Lacprodan® PL-20. This study will enable evaluation of the efficacy of milk-derived phospholipids for AAMI, and their mechanisms of action.