Introduction: Alpha-lipoic acid (a-LA) is an antioxidant shown to ameliorate age-associated impairments of brain and cardiovascular function. Human milk is known to have high antioxidant capacity; however, the role of antioxidants in the developing brain is largely uncharacterized. This exploratory study aimed to examine the dose-response effects of a-LA on piglet growth and neurodevelopment. Methods: Beginning at 2 days of age, 31 male pigs received 1 of 3 diets: control (CONT) (0 mg a-LA/100 g), low a-LA (LOW) (120 mg a-LA/100 g), or high a-LA (HIGH) (240 mg a-LA/100 g). From 14 to 28 days of age, pigs were subjected to spatial T-maze assessment, and macrostructural and microstructural neuroimaging procedures were performed at 31 days of age. Results: No differences due to diet were observed for bodyweight gain or intestinal weight and length. Spatial T-maze assessment did not reveal learning differences due to diet in proportion of correct choices or latency to choice measures. Diffusion tensor imaging revealed decreased (P = 0.01) fractional anisotropy (FA) in the internal capsule of HIGH-fed pigs compared with both the CONT (P < 0.01)- and LOW (P = 0.03)-fed pigs, which were not different from one another. Analysis of axial diffusivity (AD) within the internal capsule revealed a main effect of diet (P < 0.01) in which HIGH-fed piglets exhibited smaller (P < 0.01) rates of diffusion compared with CONT piglets, but HIGH-fed piglets were not different (P = 0.12) than LOW-fed piglets. Tract-based spatial statistics, a comparison of FA values along white matter tracts, revealed 1,650 voxels where CONT piglets exhibited higher (P < 0.05) values compared with HIGH-fed piglets. Conclusion: The lack of differences in intestinal and bodyweight measures among piglets indicate a-LA supplementation does not impact overall growth, regardless of concentration. Additionally, no observed differences between CONT- and LOW-fed piglets in behavior and neuroimaging measures indicate a low concentration of a-LA does not affect normal brain development. Supplementation of a-LA at a high concentration appeared to alter white matter maturation in the internal capsule, which may indicate delayed neurodevelopment in these piglets.
- Alpha-lipoic acid
- Internal capsule
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health