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Nutrients 2014, 6(4), 1701-1710; doi:10.3390/nu6041701

A Nutrient Combination that Can Affect Synapse Formation

Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Mass Ave., 46-5009, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
Received: 18 March 2014 / Revised: 14 April 2014 / Accepted: 15 April 2014 / Published: 23 April 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrition and Neuroscience)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [97 KB, uploaded 23 April 2014]

Abstract

Brain neurons form synapses throughout the life span. This process is initiated by neuronal depolarization, however the numbers of synapses thus formed depend on brain levels of three key nutrients—uridine, the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, and choline. Given together, these nutrients accelerate formation of synaptic membrane, the major component of synapses. In infants, when synaptogenesis is maximal, relatively large amounts of all three nutrients are provided in bioavailable forms (e.g., uridine in the UMP of mothers’ milk and infant formulas). However, in adults the uridine in foods, mostly present at RNA, is not bioavailable, and no food has ever been compelling demonstrated to elevate plasma uridine levels. Moreover, the quantities of DHA and choline in regular foods can be insufficient for raising their blood levels enough to promote optimal synaptogenesis. In Alzheimer’s disease (AD) the need for extra quantities of the three nutrients is enhanced, both because their basal plasma levels may be subnormal (reflecting impaired hepatic synthesis), and because especially high brain levels are needed for correcting the disease-related deficiencies in synaptic membrane and synapses.
Keywords: uridine; docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); choline; synapse; dendritic spine; neurite; phosphatidylcholine (PC); uridine monophosphate (UMP); Alzheimer’s disease; neurodegenerative diseases uridine; docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); choline; synapse; dendritic spine; neurite; phosphatidylcholine (PC); uridine monophosphate (UMP); Alzheimer’s disease; neurodegenerative diseases
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Wurtman, R.J. A Nutrient Combination that Can Affect Synapse Formation. Nutrients 2014, 6, 1701-1710.

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