Centrophenoxine, also known as meclofenoxate, has been used as a dietary supplement for its potential memory-boosting abilities. It has properties similar to acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter important to memory and learning. However, clinical evidence is weak and many studies have shown a lack of cognitive benefit. Most studies have reported that side effects with centrophenoxine are mild, but a few testing the active component of centrophenoxine (DMAE; dimethylethanolamine) have raised safety concerns.
Although multiple clinical trials have tested the effects of centrophenoxine, the studies were of suboptimal quality and the results were inconclusive.
Our search identified:
The clinical evidence for centrophenoxine is weak and inconclusive. The largest and most well-carried out study was a double-blind randomized control trial of 74 healthy elderly people that examined the effects of a 9-month centrophenoxine treatment on cognitive functions . Following treatment, the centrophenoxine group performed significantly better than placebo on one measure of memory called delayed free recall, which was related to consolidation of new information into long-term memory. But there were no treatment effects on the five other measures of memory tested. Another smaller double-blind clinical study in 28 people with memory deficits reported that 3 weeks of centrophenoxine treatment did not show statistically significant effects on any of the 8 measures of memory or mental concentration . More recently, a randomized controlled trial of 242 patients with mild cognitive impairment tested the effects of DMAE, which is the active component of centrophenoxine . The study found no significant difference in memory, executive function, or attention between the treatment and placebo groups after 24 weeks.
Preclinical studies have shown that centrophenoxine improves learning and memory in aged animals  and those with memory impairment [5-7] or stroke . These benefits may be due to centrophenoxine's ability to decrease inflammation , oxidative stress , and levels of damaged proteins and lipids in the brain . However, these potential benefits have not been confirmed in humans.
Clinical trials in dementia patients are of suboptimal quality and did not produce valid findings. A randomized controlled trial of 50 dementia patients examined the effects of centrophenoxine treatment, but the data could not be analyzed rigorously and therefore the results were inconclusive . Another clinical trial of 63 mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's patients compared the effects of centrophenoxine alone with a combination treatment that included centrophenoxine . Because there was no placebo control, it is unclear whether the improvement in cognitive functions was due to centrophenoxine.
Most studies have reported that side effects with centrophenoxine are mild, including nausea, headache, dizziness, gastrointestinal issues, and mild stimulant effects . However, a few studies testing DMAE, the active component of centrophenoxine, have raised safety concerns. A clinical trial testing DMAE in 242 Alzheimer’s disease patients had 3 serious adverse events including cardiac failure leading to death, cardiac arrest, and seizure . The investigators could not exclude the possibility that these events were related to DMAE. In preclinical studies, DMAE has produced neural tube defects and therefore should be avoided by women of child-bearing age . Drug interactions with centrophenoxine are unknown, but it should not be used in people with severely high blood pressure .
NOTE: This is not a comprehensive safety evaluation or complete list of potentially harmful drug interactions. It is important to discuss safety issues with your physician before taking any new supplement or medication.
Centrophenoxine is available over the counter in capsules that contain 200–300 mg each. Clinical trials that tested the effects of centrophenoxine on cognitive functions have used daily doses of 1,200 mg in healthy elderly and doses of up to 2,000 mg in dementia patients [1-3].
Evaluation of centrophenoxine's potential biological effects from Examine.com
Quality Control of Sources: United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) and FDA Information on Dietary Supplements offer information on the quality of specific supplements and can assist in finding a trusted brand.