Phoenix, AZ—Arizona State University said in a press releasethat researchers at their Biodesign Institute found choline supplementation may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and that the effects may be transgenerational.

Choline protects the brain from AD in at least two ways, the release says, both of which were explored in the study, which was performed on mice. First, it reduces levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that can act as a neurotoxin, and which doubles the risk of developing AD. Choline converts homocysteine into the helpful chemical methionine. Second, it reduces the activation of microglia, which are cells responsible to clearing away debris. In AD, activated microglia get out of control, causing brain inflammation and neuronal death.

Furthermore, according to the release, when those mice are given high dietary choline during gestation and lactation, their offspring show improvements in spatial memory compared with those receiving a normal choline regimen in the womb. And the offspring ofthosemice, even when they receive no direct choline supplementation, showed the benefits of treatment, suggesting that choline makes epigenetic alterations.