Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
Choline, the brain and neurodegeneration: insights from epigenetics
Neurodegenerative disorders are a major public health problem worldwide with huge socioeconomic effect. Recent evidence suggests that neurodegeneration is not only caused by genetic factors but also affected by environmental factors including nutrients. Environmental influences have been shown to cause epigenetic modifications in the brain with long-lasting effects on behavior if they occur in early life. It has been suggested that early nutritional intervention that includes choline, betaine, VitB6, VitB12 and/or folic acid could attenuate decline in cognitive functions. Recently, choline emerged as an essential micronutrient for normal brain development and an epigenetic modifier of the genome that could alter neuronal gene methylation, expression and activity. Choline maintains the structural and functional integrity of membranes and regulates cholinergic neurotransmission via the synthesis of acetylcholine. Choline-related functions have been shown to be dysregulated in several neurodegenerative disorders suggesting a potential role of nutrients in mental health. We will discuss the role of epigenetic mechanisms in neurodegeneration and how nutrients could interact with the epigenome to protect or boost cognitive processes across the lifespan.