Arizona—Choline could hold the potential to prevent Alzheimer’s disease (AD), according to findings from researchers at the ASU-Banner Neurodegenerative Disease Research Center (NDRC).

Earlier this year, they found thatmice whose mothers had taken choline saw a reduction in Alzheimer’s symptoms. Thislatest studyexplored the effects of choline administered in adulthood.
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The study used female mice bred to develop AD-like symptoms. The mice who were given a diet high in choline throughout their life—nearly five times the normal level of dietary choline—exhibited improvements in spatial memory and significantly reduced amyloid-beta plaque load, compared with those receiving a normal choline regimen. The beneficial effects of lifelong choline supplementation, the release notes, include a reduction in activation of microglia—specialized cells that rid the brain of deleterious debris. While necessary for keeping the brain healthy, if they are overactivated, brain inflammation and neuronal death will occur.

A press release on the topic notes that a similar study published in July from a group in China found the same benefits in male mice.

The researchers note that current established adequate intake level of choline for adult  women is 425 mg/day and 550 mg/day for adult men--but that research examining daily human choline intake found that average intakes are lower than the RDI, especially in women. This is interesting, the researchers say, given that the incidence of AD is higher in women than in men.

The study concludes by noting that altering the diet to increase choline intake could have benefits in both neurodegenerative and healthy-but-aging brains. Choline is found in high levels in liver and egg yolks, and in lower levels in seeds, nuts, and cruciferous vegetables.