More and more natural compounds are being found to have the potential to be able to help treat or even prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The essential nutrient choline is one of them.
Choline is a nutrient that is made in the liver and found in foods such as eggs, nuts, beans, peas, spinach and several animal meats, including liver.
While choline can be produced by the body, researchers from Arizona State University’s Banner Neurodegenerative Disease Research Center at the Biodesign Institute and from the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix wanted to find out how supplementation might help in the fight against Alzheimer’s.
Their results were not only exciting, but surprising.
What are Alzheimer’s Risk Factors
But first, it is necessary to explore some of the risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s disease, which served as the focus of this study.
The first risk factor is elevated homocysteine levels. Elevated homocysteine levels are purported to double the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. When homocysteine is found in elevated levels, it can act as a neurotoxin and contribute to the formation of amyloid plaques.
The second risk factor the researchers looked at is the load of amyloid beta peptides (Aβ), which develop in amyloid plaque found in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease.
Choline performs a couple of functions in the brain that have led researchers to hone in on its potential to treat or prevent Alzheimer’s.
First, choline reduces the levels of the aforementioned homocysteine. It does so by converting it into a different chemical called methionine, which is helpful to the brain rather than harmful, which homocysteine can be in elevated amounts.
Secondly, it also reduces the activation of cells called microglia. Reduction is the key word as microglia perform an essential function – clearing away debris in the brain. While this function is essential, microglia can also get out of control when over-activated, leading to brain inflammation.
What makes this study interesting is its unique focus.
Rather than focusing on how those with Alzheimer’s disease might be affected by a specified treatment, the researchers focused instead on how generations down the line might be affected.
To do so, the researchers exposed 2.5 month old mice to a choline supplementation (ChS) diet, then allowed them to breed with each other, producing a first generation of mice (Gen-1).
Importantly, the Gen-1 mice were never fed a ChS diet directly. They were only exposed to the ChS diet through their mothers, during gestation and lactation. Once they were weaned, they were fed a control diet.
The researchers also bred a subset of Gen-1 mice to each other, producing a second generation (Gen-2). The Gen-2 mice were also not fed the ChS diet.
This is where the results become very exciting and surprising.
The researchers found reduced Aβ load and reduced microglial activation in not only the Gen-1 mice but also the Gen-2 mice! They also found improved cognitive deficits in both generations and the significant change of 27 genes.
These results have been attributed by the researchers to a reduction in homocysteine levels in both generations of mice, showing an ability to impact not only whomever or whatever it is first administered to, but also multi-generational offspring in the future.
Of course, more tests are needed in humans to confirm choline’s efficacy as a preventative measure (both in individuals and in future generations) as well as a possible treatment option. But these results are an extremely exciting first step in that direction.
Note: we are against all animal testing here at PursuitOfGreat.com. This study is being presented for information value to readers, not in support of its methods.
References: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41380-018-0322-z https://biodesign.asu.edu/news/essential-nutrient-may-help-fight-alzheimer%E2%80%99s-across-generations https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-436/choline
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