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. 2017 Jun 2;9(6):567.
doi: 10.3390/nu9060567.

Feeding a Mixture of Choline Forms to Lactating Dams Improves the Development of the Immune System in Sprague-Dawley Rat Offspring

Free PMC article

Feeding a Mixture of Choline Forms to Lactating Dams Improves the Development of the Immune System in Sprague-Dawley Rat Offspring

Caroline Richard et al. Nutrients. .
Free PMC article


Dietary choline is essential during lactation, but few studies have examined the implications of feeding a mixture of choline forms on immune function. This study investigates the impact of feeding lactating dams different mixtures of choline forms, similar to those in human diets, on the development and later immune function of suckled offspring. Sprague-Dawley lactating dams (n = 6/diet) were randomized to consume one of three diets, containing 1 g/kg choline: Control (100% free choline (FC)), Mixed Choline (MC: 50% phosphatidylcholine (PC), 25% FC, 25% glycerophosphocholine (GPC)), or High GPC (HGPC: 75% GPC, 12.5% PC, 12.5% FC). At weaning, female pups (n = 2/dam) were fed the Control diet until 10 weeks. At 3 weeks, MC and HGPC pups were heavier and their splenocytes had a higher proportion of helper T cells expressing CD25 and CD28 and produced less interferon gamma (IFN-γ) and tumor-necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) after Concanavalin A stimulation vs. Control pups (p < 0.05). At 10 weeks, MC and HGPC offspring had a lower proportion of macrophages and dendritic cells and produced less interleukin (IL)-1β but more IL-10 after lipopolysaccharide stimulation vs. Control pups (p < 0.05). In summary, feeding mixed choline diets during lactation improved T cell phenotype/function at the end of suckling and programmed a less inflammatory response later in life.

Keywords: Sprague-Dawley rat; choline; glycerophosphocholine; growth; immunology; lactation period; phosphatidylcholine; spleen.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Contribution of choline-containing metabolites to total choline from 3-week-old pups’ stomach content. Values are presented as a percentage of contribution to total choline content (n = 6 per diet group). GPC, glycerophosphocholine; LPC, lysophosphatidylcholine; PC, phosphatidylcholine; SM, sphingomyelin; p value of the main effect of diet from the one-way ANOVA in SAS for total choline (p = 0.657), free choline (p = 0.003), LPC (p = 0.052), PC (p < 0.001), GPC (p = 0.022), phosphocholine (p =< 0.001), and SM (p = 0.216). Means that do not share a common superscript letter are significantly different (p < 0.05) according to post hoc analysis using the DUNCAN adjustment. Analysis performed on log-transformed values for LPC and PC.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Summary of the effects of feeding different mixtures of choline forms in the maternal diet during the suckling period on the immune system development. CD, cluster of differentiation; ConA, Concanavalin A; Control, free choline; GPC, glycerophosphocholine; HGPC, high GPC; IL, interleukin; LPS, lipopolysaccharide; MC, mixed choline; TNF-α, tumor necrosis factor alpha.

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