Supplementing female rats with DHA-lysophosphatidylcholine increases docosahexaenoic acid and acetylcholine contents in the brain and improves the memory and learning capabilities of the pups.


  • A. Valenzuela Laboratorio de Lípidos y Antioxidantes, INTA, Universidad de Chile
  • S. Nieto Laboratorio de Lípidos y Antioxidantes, INTA, Universidad de Chile
  • J. Sanhueza Laboratorio de Lípidos y Antioxidantes, INTA, Universidad de Chile
  • N. Morgado Laboratorio de Lípidos y Antioxidantes, INTA, Universidad de Chile
  • I. Rojas Laboratorio de Lípidos y Antioxidantes, INTA, Universidad de Chile
  • P. Zañartu Escuela de Psicología, Universidad de los Andes



Brain acetylcholine, Choline, DHA supplementation, Lysophospholipids, Skinner box test


Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is supplied to the foetus and newborn through the mother from their own reserves and their diet. No consensus about the best form to supplement DHA has been established. We propose that DHAcontaining lysophosphatidylcholine (DHA-LPC), obtained from DHA-rich eggs may be a suitable form of DHA and choline (the precursor of acetylcholine) supplementation. We evaluated the effectiveness of DHA-LPC to increase DHA and acetylcholine concentration in the brain of pups born from female rats supplemented with DHA-LPC before and during pregnancy. We also evaluated the effect of DHA supplementation on learning and memory capabilities of pups through the Skinner test for operant conditioning. Female Wistar rats received 40-day supplementation of DHA-LPC (8 mg DHA/kg b.w/daily.), before and during pregnancy. After delivery, plasma, erythrocyte, liver, and adipose tissue DHA and plasma choline were analyzed. Brains from 60 day-old pups separated into frontal cortex, cerebellum, striatum, hippocampus, and occipital cortex, were assessed for DHA, acetylcholine, and acetylcholine transferase (CAT) activity. Pups were subjected to the Skinner box test. DHA-LPC supplementation produces higher choline and liver DHA contents in the mother’s plasma and increases the pups’ DHA and acetylcholine in the cerebellum and hippocampus. CAT was not modified by supplementation. The Skinner test shows that pups born from DHA-LPC supplemented mothers exhibit better scores of learning and memory than the controls. Conclusion: DHA-LPC may be an adequate form for DHA supplementation during the perinatal period.


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How to Cite

Valenzuela A, Nieto S, Sanhueza J, Morgado N, Rojas I, Zañartu P. Supplementing female rats with DHA-lysophosphatidylcholine increases docosahexaenoic acid and acetylcholine contents in the brain and improves the memory and learning capabilities of the pups. grasasaceites [Internet]. 2010Mar.30 [cited 2023Jan.30];61(1):16-23. Available from:




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