Acute cognitive effects of standardised Ginkgo biloba extract complexed with phosphatidylserine



Recent data suggest that the complexation of standardised Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) with soy-derived phospholipids enhances the bio-availablity of GBE's active components. The current study therefore aimed to assess the comparative cognitive and mood effects of a low dose of GBE and products complexing the same extract with either phosphatidylserine or phosphatidylcholine.

The study utilised a placebo-controlled, multi-dose, double-blind, balanced-crossover design. Twenty-eight healthy young participants received 120 mg GBE, 120 mg GBE complexed with phosphatidylserine (Virtiva™), 120 mg GBE complexed with phosphatidylcholine and a matching placebo, on separate days 7 days apart. Cognitive performance was assessed using the Cognitive Drug Research (CDR) computerised test battery and Serial Subtraction tasks immediately prior to dosing and at 1, 2.5, 4 and 6 h thereafter. The primary outcome measures were the four aspects of cognitive performance, which have previously been derived by factor analysis of CDR subtests. Levels of terpenoids (bilobalide, ginkgolide A and ginkgolide B) were concomitantly assessed in plasma samples taken pre-dose and at 3 and 6.5 h post-dose.

In keeping with previous research utilising the same methodology, 120 mg of GBE was not associated with markedly improved performance on the primary outcomes. However, administration of GBE complexed with phosphatidylserine resulted both in improved secondary memory performance and significantly increased speed of memory task performance across all of the post-dose testing sessions. Enhancement following GBE complexed with phosphatidylcholine was restricted to a modest improvement in secondary memory performance which was restricted to one post-dose time point. All three treatments were associated with improved calmness. There were no significant differences in post-dose levels of terpenoids between the Ginkgo containing treatments, although this latter finding may be attributable to methodological factors.

Complexation with phosphatidylserine appears to potentiate the cognitive effects associated with a low dose of GBE. Further research is required to identify whether this effect is due to the complexation of the extracts, their mere combination, or the separate psychopharmacological actions of the two extracts. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.