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Behav Neurosci. 2010 Jun;124(3):346-61. doi: 10.1037/a0019590.

Perinatal choline supplementation improves cognitive functioning and emotion regulation in the Ts65Dn mouse model of Down syndrome.

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Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


In addition to mental retardation, individuals with Down syndrome (DS) also develop the neuropathological changes typical of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and the majority of these individuals exhibit dementia. The Ts65Dn mouse model of DS exhibits key features of these disorders, including early degeneration of cholinergic basal forebrain (CBF) neurons and impairments in functions dependent on the two CBF projection systems; namely, attention and explicit memory. Herein, we demonstrate that supplementing the maternal diet with excess choline during pregnancy and lactation dramatically improved attentional function of the adult trisomic offspring. Specifically, the adult offspring of choline-supplemented Ts65Dn dams performed significantly better than unsupplemented Ts65Dn mice on a series of 5 visual attention tasks, and in fact, on some tasks did not differ from the normosomic (2N) controls. A second area of dysfunction in the trisomic animals, heightened reactivity to committing an error, was partially normalized by the early choline supplementation. The 2N littermates also benefited from increased maternal choline intake on 1 attention task. These findings collectively suggest that perinatal choline supplementation might significantly lessen cognitive dysfunction in DS and reduce cognitive decline in related neurodegenerative disorders such as AD.

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