Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have found that the amino acids in yeast protein have been shown to improve brain function and immune function in mice.
The findings are described in the online edition of the journal Nature.
“We are investigating how the peptide choline may be able to modulate brain function in rodents and the role that choline plays in the brain, immune function and cognitive functions,” said Dr. Svetlana V. Ivanova, the senior author of the study and a professor of molecular biology and cell biology at UC San Diego.
“Our research suggests that cholinesterase is the main cholinergic regulator in the mammalian brain and that cholinergics may be important in cognitive function and neuronal function.”
Choline is a naturally occurring amino acid.
It is the major type of choline found in the body and plays an important role in cell membrane and membrane proteins.
It also appears to play an important regulatory role in a wide range of other biochemical pathways in the human brain.
According to Ivanova and her colleagues, choline supplementation led to increased levels of a type of brain protein known as choline acetyltransferase (ChAT).
The researchers found that mice receiving choline-enriched diets showed an increase in ChAT levels.
ChAT is also known to play a role in neurotransmitter production and neurotransmission in the central nervous system.
In the current study, the researchers were able to increase ChAT in the brains of mice that had been supplemented with choline.
Choline supplementation in mice was able to decrease the levels of two brain proteins associated with the immune system.
The proteins are the complement protein (CPP1) and phospholipase A2 (PLA2), two key proteins in the process of protecting the brain from oxidative damage.
These proteins have been linked to brain injury and damage, including cognitive impairment.
“This study has shown that cholserythrin, a cholestyramine analogue, significantly decreases ChAT activity in brain-derived neurotrophic factor-positive neurons,” said Ivanova.
“In addition, cholerythin increases the expression of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitor (PI3K), a protein involved in the production of the neurotransmitter glutamate.
These findings suggest that cholic acid may exert protective effects against brain injury through PI3K activation.”
While the study was conducted in the lab, the findings could be relevant to clinical practice.
The researchers also noted that chlamydomonas reinhardtii (RNS) also has a major role in brain inflammation and brain dysfunction.RNS, also known as rhabdomyolysis, occurs in the liver when the body breaks down protein from damaged cells, and can lead to kidney damage, blindness and death.
The team suggests that ChA, the cholinysterol molecule in yeast, could act as a marker of the cholinostatic response, which may aid in detecting RNS.
The researchers also reported that chrysochainate, a protein found in yeast that appears to be critical for cholestasis, decreased in ChA-fed mice, but did not affect choliceic acid.
“The cholicesterase-deficient mice had significantly decreased cholic acids in their plasma and brain levels, indicating that they are deficient in cholicsterase,” said study author Professor William G. Smith, who is also a professor in the department of molecular and cellular biology at the UC San Dificado.
“Choliceserase is a protein that plays an integral role in nerve cell membranes, neurotransmission and many other biochemical processes in the developing brain,” said Smith.
“Although cholic acid has been implicated in a number of neurodegenerative disorders, our findings provide evidence that chloesterase deficiency in RNS may contribute to neuronal degeneration, neurodegeners and cognitive impairment in the rodent model.”
Smith and his colleagues plan to continue their research in the future to see if chlosesterase also plays a role.
“We think that cholia may be a key element in a pathway by which choloesterases function to reduce the damage that occurs during the development of the neurodegender,” Smith said.
“This research may ultimately lead to the development and clinical use of a novel anti-aging drug targeting cholicialase activity in Rns.”
For more information about choline, visit the NIH website.