Kingsley M (2006), Effects of phosphatidylserine supplementation on exercising humans, Sports Med, 36(8): 657-69.


Phosphatidylserine (PtdSer) is a ubiquitous phospholipid species that is normally located within the inner leaflet of the cell membrane. PtdSer has been implicated in a myriad of membrane-related functions. As a cofactor for a variety of enzymes, PtdSer is thought to be important in cell excitability and communication. PtdSer has also been shown to regulate a variety of neuroendocrine responses that include the release of acetylcholine, dopamine and noradrenaline. Additionally, PtdSer has been extensively demonstrated to influence tissue responses to inflammation. Finally, PtdSer has the potential to act as an effective antioxidant, especially in response to iron-mediated oxidation. The majority of the available research that has investigated the effects of PtdSer supplementation on humans has concentrated on memory and cognitive function; patients experiencing some degree of cognitive decline have traditionally been the main focus of investigation. Although investigators have administered PtdSer through intravenous and oral routes, oral supplementation has wider appeal. Indeed, PtdSer is commercially available as an oral supplement intended to improve cognitive function, with recommended doses usually ranging from 100 to 500 mg/day. The main sources that have been used to derive PtdSer for supplements are bovine-cortex (BC-PtdSer) and soy (S-PtdSer); however, due to the possibility of transferring infection through the consumption of prion contaminated brain, S-PtdSer is the preferred supplement for use in humans. Although the pharmacokinetics of PtdSer have not been fully elucidated, it is likely that oral supplementation leads to small but quantifiable increases in the PtdSer content within the cell membrane. A small number of peer-reviewed full articles exist that investigate the effects of PtdSer supplementation in the exercising human. Early research indicated that oral supplementation with BC-PtdSer 800 mg/day moderated exercise-induced changes to the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis in untrained participants. Subsequently, this finding was extended to suggest that S-PtdSer 800 mg/day reduced the cortisol response to overtraining during weight training while improving feeling of well-being and decreasing perceived muscle soreness. However, equivocal findings from our laboratory might suggest that the dose required to undertake this neuroendocrine action may vary between participants. Interestingly, recent findings demonstrating that short-term supplementation with S-PtdSer 750 mg/day improved exercise capacity during high-intensity cycling and tended to increase performance during intermittent running might suggest an innovative application for this supplement. With the findings from the existing body of literature in mind, this article focuses on the potential effects of PtdSer supplementation in humans during and following exercise.