Journal Article
Randomized Controlled Trial
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Paraxanthine provides greater improvement in cognitive function than caffeine after performing a 10-km run.

RATIONALE: Intense exercise promotes fatigue and can impair cognitive function, particularly toward the end of competition when decision-making is often critical for success. For this reason, athletes often ingest caffeinated energy drinks prior to or during exercise to help them maintain focus, reaction time, and cognitive function during competition. However, caffeine habituation and genetic sensitivity to caffeine (CA) limit efficacy. Paraxanthine (PX) is a metabolite of caffeine reported to possess nootropic properties. This study examined whether ingestion of PX with and without CA affects pre- or post-exercise cognitive function.

METHODS: 12 trained runners were randomly assigned to consume in a double-blind, randomized, and crossover manner 400 mg of a placebo (PL); 200 mg of PL + 200 mg of CA; 200 mg of PL + 200 mg of PX (ENFINITY®, Ingenious Ingredients); or 200 mg PX + 200 mg of CA (PX+CA) with a 7-14-day washout between treatments. Participants donated fasting blood samples and completed pre-supplementation (PRE) side effects questionnaires, the Berg-Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (BCST), and the Psychomotor Vigilance Task Test (PVTT). Participants then ingested the assigned treatment and rested for 60 minutes, repeated tests (PRE-EX), performed a 10-km run on a treadmill at a competition pace, and then repeated tests (POST-EX). Data were analyzed using General Linear Model (GLM) univariate analyses with repeated measures and percent changes from baseline with 95% confidence intervals.

RESULTS: BCST correct responses in the PX treatment increased from PRE-EX to POST-EX (6.8% [1.5, 12.1], p  = 0.012). The error rate in the PL (23.5 [-2.8, 49.8] %, p  = 0.078) and CA treatment (31.5 [5.2, 57.8] %, p  = 0.02) increased from PRE-EX values with POST-EX errors tending to be lower with PX treatment compared to CA (-35.7 [-72.9, 1.4] %, p  = 0.059). POST-EX perseverative errors with PAR rules were significantly lower with PX treatment than with CA (-26.9 [-50.5, -3.4] %, p  = 0.026). Vigilance analysis revealed a significant interaction effect in Trial #2 mean reaction time values ( p  = 0.049, ηp2 = 0.134, moderate to large effect) with POST-EX reaction times tending to be faster with PX and CA treatment. POST-EX mean reaction time of all trials with PX treatment was significantly faster than PL (-23.2 [-43.4, -2.4] %, p  = 0.029) and PX+CA (-29.6 [-50.3, -8.80] %, p  = 0.006) treatments. There was no evidence that PX ingestion adversely affected ratings of side effects associated with stimulant intake or clinical blood markers.

CONCLUSIONS: Results provide some evidence that pre-exercise PX ingestion improves prefrontal cortex function, attenuates attentional decline, mitigates cognitive fatigue, and improves reaction time and vigilance. Adding CA to PX did not provide additional benefits. Therefore, PX ingestion may serve as a nootropic alternative to CA.

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