Mitochondrial respiration is important. It is these mechanisms that convert oxygen to adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the universal energy donor in cells. When ATP production isn’t working at full capacity, cells can’t function properly. A recent study from the Czech Republic examines the impact of nootropics on a variety of mitochondrial processes. Specifically, the study looks at activities of the electron transport chain, citrate synthase, monoamine oxidase, oxygen consumption rate and hydrogen peroxide production. Changes in each of these facets were studied as they related to two nootropic drugs – piracetam and latrepirdine.
The subject was a pig, and the results were interesting. Though neither of the drugs revealed changes in the oxygen consumption rate of the animal’s mitochondria, both nootropics tested positive as selected MOA-A inhibitors. Latrepirdine was more potent in this regard than piracetam. MOA dysfunction – which is defined as either too little or too much MOA activity – is associated with a broad number of psychiatric disorders, from depression to psychosis. MOA activity impacts the levels of neurotransmitters released in the brain. MOA-A inhibitors are often used to combat anxiety and depression.
MOA-A is also associated with neural density. Infants are born with levels mirroring those found in adults. In their first year of life, MOA-A levels increase alongside neural density. Then, as the child’s brain begins to develop stronger pathways and indeterminate neurons that are not being used are weeded out, MOA-A levels drop as well. From this point forward, levels remain relatively stable. If these levels are not optimal, psychiatric disorders may emerge. Studies indicate that correcting imbalances can aid in the prevention and treatment of these disorders.
Though nootropics have been shown effective in treating disorders, their impact on the healthy mind is less certain. What is clear is that MOA-A levels and the prevalence of neurotransmitters in the brain could be less than optimal, without being so out of line as to cause impairment. In these cases, MOA modulation may help the brain to function more optimally.