Dietary choline supplementation improves behavioral, histological, and neurochemical outcomes in a rat model of traumatic brain injury.
J Neurotrauma. 2008 Aug;25(8):975-83. PMID: 18665805
Novel pharmacological approaches that safely and effectively lessen the degree of neurological impairment following traumatic brain injury (TBI) are sorely needed. Non-invasive approaches that could be used over an extended periods of time might be particularly useful. Previous studies from our lab have hypothesized that TBI-induced decreases in hippocampal and cortical alpha7 neuronal nicotinic cholinergic receptor (nAChR) expression might contribute to cognitive impairment that follows brain injury. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the low-potency, but selective alpha7 nAChR agonist choline might be a useful treatment for improvement of neurological outcome in a rat model of TBI. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to control or choline-supplemented diets for 2 weeks prior to experimental brain injury (1.5-mm cortical contusion injury) and throughout the recovery phase. Dietary choline supplementation resulted in a modest degree of improvement in spatial memory as assessed in the Morris water maze test. In addition, choline treatment resulted in significant cortical tissue sparing, reduced brain inflammation, and normalized some TBI-induced deficits in nAChR expression. The results of this study suggest that alpha7 nAChR agonists may be useful drugs to enhance recovery following brain injury.