Perinatal choline deficiency delays brain development and alters metabolite concentrations in the young pig

Austin T. Mudd, Caitlyn M. Getty, Brad P. Sutton, Ryan N. Dilger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Adequate choline supply during the perinatal period is critical for proper brain formation, when robust neurogenesis and neuronal maturation occur. Therefore, the objective of this study was to examine the impact of perinatal choline status on neurodevelopment. Methods: Sows were fed a choline-deficient (CD) or choline-sufficient (CS) diet during the last half of the gestational period. At 2 days of age, piglets from sows within each prenatal treatment group were further stratified into postnatal treatment groups and provided either a CD or CS milk replacer, resulting in four treatment groups. At 30 days of age, piglets underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedures to analyze structural and metabolite differences. Results: Single-voxel spectroscopy (SVS) analysis revealed postnatally CS piglets had higher (P < 0.001) concentrations of glycerophosphocholine–phosphocholine than postnatally CD piglets. Volumetric analysis indicated smaller (P < 0.006) total brain volumes in prenatally CD piglets compared with prenatally CS piglets. Differences (P < 0.05) in the corpus callosum, pons, midbrain, thalamus, and right hippocampus, were observed as larger region-specific volumes proportional to total brain size in prenatally CD piglets compared with CS piglets. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) suggested interactions (P < 0.05) between prenatal and postnatal choline status in fractional anisotropy values of the thalamus and right hippocampus. Prenatally CS piglets had lower cerebellar radial diffusivity (P = 0.045) compared with prenatally CD piglets. Discussion: This study demonstrates that prenatal choline deficiency has profound effects by delaying neurodevelopment as evidenced by structural and metabolic MRI assessments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-433
Number of pages9
JournalNutritional Neuroscience
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 12 2016


  • Choline
  • Deficiency
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Hippocampus
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Perinatal
  • Piglet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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