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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2003 Sep;27(4):385-99.

Metabolic imprinting of choline by its availability during gestation: implications for memory and attentional processing across the lifespan.

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Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Duke University, 9 Flowers Drive, Box 90086, Durham, NC 27708-0086, USA.


A growing body of research supports the view that choline is an essential nutrient during early development that has long-lasting effects on memory and attentional processes throughout the lifespan. This review describes the known effects of alterations in dietary choline availability both in adulthood and during early development. Although modest effects of choline on cognitive processes have been reported when choline is administered to adult animals, we have found that the perinatal period is a critical time for cholinergic organization of brain function. Choline supplementation during this period increases memory capacity and precision of the young adult and appears to prevent age-related memory and attentional decline. Deprivation of choline during early development leads to compromised cognitive function and increased decline with age. We propose that this organizational effect of choline availability may be due to relatively permanent alterations in the functioning of the cholinergic synapse, which we have called 'metabolic imprinting'.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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