By Stephenie Overman
Some cognitive functions in Down syndrome may be improved by a compound that’s present in green tea.
In a Spanish study published in the peer-reviewed journal The Lancet Neurology, researchers reported on the effects of the extract epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) on a range of functions.
Out of 24 cognitive tests, the researchers said they found improvements in three tests for the group that received the extract. These tests looked at visual memory, the ability to control inhibitions when instructed to and the ability to carry out everyday living tasks. Results for the other 21 tests were not significantly different between the groups.
“This is the first time that a treatment has shown some efficacy in the improvement of some cognitive tasks in persons with this syndrome,” said Dr. Mara Dierssen, head of the Cellular and Systems Neurobiology group at the Centre for Genomic Regulation and lead author of the paper.
She added that “it must be made clear that our discovery is not a cure” and that “our results have to be proven in larger populations, but it may be a treatment to improve these individuals’ quality of life.”
In the study, 84 people with Down syndrome age 16 to 34 were divided randomly into two groups; everyone was given online thinking and memory training for a year. Half the people in the group took capsules of EGCG, while half took a placebo, according to PubMed Health. The participants had tests of their thinking and behavioral abilities at the start, after six months and 12 months, then six months after the study ended.
The World Health Organization, reports that Down Syndrome is the most common cause of genetic-origin intellectual disability.
Sources: The Lancet Neurology; PubMed Health; World Health Organization