Dietary Cocktail Improves Memory in Animal Study

Mixture of docosahexaenoic acid, uridine and choline may be potential Alzheimer's treatment

MONDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) -- A dietary cocktail containing an omega-3 fatty acid significantly improves memory and learning in gerbils, suggesting that a similar cocktail may benefit patients with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, according to a report published online July 7 in the FASEB Journal: The Journal of the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology.

Sarah Holguin, Ph.D., of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, and colleagues fed normal gerbils a mixture containing docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 300 mg/kg/day), uridine (as its monophosphate, UMP; 0.5 percent) and choline (0.1 percent) for four weeks and continued the regimen through subsequent behavioral training and testing.

The researchers found that administration of all three compounds resulted in increases in total brain phospholipids and in each major phosphatide. They also found that administration of DHA plus choline was associated with improved performance on the four-arm radial maze, T-maze and Y-maze tests, an effect that was enhanced by co-administration with UMP.

"Uridine probably acts by generating both CTP, which can be limiting in phosphatide synthesis, and UTP, which activates P2Y receptors coupled to neurite outgrowth and protein synthesis," the authors write. "All three compounds also act by enhancing the substrate-saturation of phosphatide-synthesizing enzymes. These findings demonstrate that a treatment that increases synaptic membrane content can enhance cognitive functions in normal animals."

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