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Coffee fruit extract shows potential brain benefits: FutureCeuticals study

By Stephen DANIELLS , 14-Jan-2013

A proprietary extract from the coffee fruit may boost levels of a protein known to influence and support neurons and the central nervous system, suggest new findings from a small pilot study.

The polyphenol-rich coffee fruit extract was associated with increases in levels of of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in volunteers. BDNF is a member of a protein family that influences nerve growth. The protein is said to have an “important role in learning, memory and behavior”.

Declining levels of BDNF have also been linked to certain health conditions, like depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Alzheimer’s and dementia, so boosting levels could offer health benefits for consumers.

Scientists from Applied BioClinical, Inc. (Irvine, CA), FutureCeuticals, Inc. (Momence, IL), NutraClinical, Inc. (San Diego, CA) report that a coffee fruit extract may boost BDNF levels in healthy subjects by an average 143% with respect to baseline.

However, according to findings published in the British Journal of Nutrition , BDNF levels were unaffected by other nutraceutical interventions, including green coffee caffeine powder, grape seed extract powder, and green coffee bean extract powder.

The researchers note that the sample size used in the study was insufficient to allow for definitive conclusions on these other interventions, since they did show a trend toward significant BDNF increases.

NeuroFactor

The proprietary whole coffee fruit extract is commercialized by FutureCeuticals under the brand name NeuroFactor. FutureCeuticals funded the new pilot study.

Zbigniew Pietrzkowski, FutureCeuticals' V.P. of Research and Development told NutraIngredients-USA that the company is highly invested in BDNF.

"The most fascinating aspect of BDNF is its role in harmonizing the proper cooperation between our peripheral tissues, for example, muscles, and our brain. During exercise, muscles can release extra amounts of BDNF into the blood resulting in beneficial effects on brain function, awareness and mood. Studies have shown that blood levels of BDNF are reduced with aging and with depression. On the other hand, BDNF may be involved in regulation of metabolism by affecting appetite control and sleep in human brain.

"In addition to this newly published pilot study in the British Journal of Nutrition, we are completing a second, similar study using a larger study population. Results will be submitted for publication during the first quarter of 2013," he added. 

"Concurrently, we are performing experimentation in order to verify how BDNF from blood may affect brain function. Based upon the results from both studies, FutureCeuticals will then activate clinical research on how our coffee fruit concentrate (NeuroFactor(tm)) may modulate specific clinical functions: cognitivity, appetite, muscle-mediated modulation of metabolism, neurodegenerative conditions, quality of sleep or neurodegeneration. Not surprisingly, our NeutrFactor(tm) coffee fruit extract and BDNF are major R&D initiatives for 2013 here at FutureCeuticals."

Study details

The new study involved 25 healthy subjects randomly assigned to one of five groups, and asked to consume a single 100 mg dose of each material.

Results showed that green coffee caffeine powder, grape seed extract powder, and green coffee bean extract powder all increased levels of BDNF by about 31%, but these results were not statistically significant.

The coffee fruit extract was associated with a 143 % (n 10), compared with baseline.

"The compounds tested in the present study had different concentrations of caffeine and polyphenols," explained the researchers. "It is important to note that the present results show the percentage of caffeine within each tested compound, rather than an absolute mass of caffeine.

"Nevertheless, the present work suggests that procyanidins may have the ability to increase plasma BDNF levels and, perhaps, to a larger extent than caffeine itself."

“In order to confirm the results of the present pilot study, further clinical testing in a larger group is required,” they concluded.

Source: British Journal of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, FirstView Articles, doi: 10.1017/S0007114512005338
“Modulatory effect of coffee fruit extract on plasma levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in healthy subjects”
Authors: T. Reyes-Izquierdo, B. Nemzer, C. Shu, L. Huynh, R. Argumedo, R. Keller, Z. Pietrzkowski

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