UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Choline Supplementation Modifies the Effects of Developmental Alcohol Exposure on Immune Responses in Adult Rats Baker, Jessica A.; Breit, Kristen R.; Bodnar, Tamara; Weinberg, Joanne; Thomas, Jennifer D.


Prenatal alcohol exposure can disrupt the development of numerous systems, including the immune system. Indeed, alterations in cytokine levels may contribute to the neuropathological, behavioral, and cognitive problems, and other adverse outcomes observed in individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Importantly, supplementation with the essential nutrient choline can improve performance in hippocampal-dependent behaviors; thus, the present study examined the effects of choline on plasma and hippocampal cytokines in adult rats exposed to ethanol in early development. From postnatal day (PD) 4–9 (third trimester equivalent), pups received ethanol (5.25 g/kg/day) or Sham intubations. Subjects were treated with choline chloride (100 mg/kg/day) or saline from PD10–30. On PD60, plasma and hippocampal tissue was collected before and after an immune challenge (lipopolysaccharide (LPS); 50 ug/kg). Prior to the immune challenge, ethanol-exposed subjects showed an overall increase in hippocampal pro-inflammatory cytokines, an effect mitigated by choline supplementation. In contrast, in the plasma, choline reduced LPS-related increases in pro-inflammatory markers, particularly in ethanol-exposed subjects. Thus, early choline supplementation may modify both brain and peripheral inflammation. These results suggest that early choline can mitigate some long-term effects of ethanol exposure on hippocampal inflammation, which may contribute to improved hippocampal function, and could also influence peripheral immune responses that may impact overall health.

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