Citicoline – alias cytidine-5′-disphosphocholine – is a legal smart drug; it’s a precursor of phosphatidylcholine and acetylcholine. According to an animal study published in Turkish Neurosurgery, citicoline stimulates the recovery of damaged nerves. And reading the study makes you wonder what other interesting neurological effects citicoline might have…
Since scientists discovered that phosphatidylcholine is a building block for brain and nerve cell membranes, they’ve been studying the effect of supplementation with the substance or its analogues. One of the questions is whether a supplement or a functional food containing these substances can prevent or delay mental decline that occurs as a result of aging or diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Researchers at Uludag University in Turkey examined a different aspect of citicoline. They cut through the sciatic nerve in the paw of rats, sewed it together again and then monitored the healing process in the ensuing 12 weeks.
Three experimental groups of rats were injected in their small intestine with doses of 300, 600 and 900 mmol citicoline per kg bodyweight just before and immediately after the surgery took place. A control group was given saline solution injections.
One of the methods that the researchers used to measure recovery was to spread ink on the rats’ paws and then get the animals to walk over white paper. If the sciatic nerve is not functioning properly the rats are unable to contract the muscles in their paws and their paw print will be longer than normal. They are the rat equivalent of flat-footed.
Citicoline speeds up damaged nerve recovery
You can measure how recovery is progressing by comparing the print made by a healthy paw with that made by a damaged paw. From this you can then calculate the sciatic functional index.
The higher the dose of citicoline, the faster that rats regained control over the muscles in their paw, as you can see in the figure below.
The researchers also measured the speed with which electrical impulses travelled along the recovering nerve pathways. The figure above shows that impulses were transmitted faster the more citicoline the rats had had.
Under the microscope the researchers saw that the highest dose of citicoline actually led to an increase in the number of axons in the nerve pathway. All doses reduced the formation of scar tissue in the nerves.
“Future studies are required to further reveal the mechanisms by which citicoline proves beneficial in peripheral nerve damage”, the researchers conclude.
During the process of learning brain cells make new connections. This is the way that they store information. The processes that take place in our brain when we are learning resemble what happens when a severed nerve is recovering.
Might citicoline also boost learning performance?
Investigation of the dose-dependency of citicoline effects on nerve regeneration and functional recovery in a rat model of sciatic nerve injury.
The aim of this study was to investigate the dose dependence of citicoline’s previously-reported effects on recovery of peripheral nerve injury.
Right sciatic nerves of sixty adult female Wistar Albino rats were incised and primary anastomosis was performed. Rats were then divided into four groups: Control group received 2 ml of saline intraperitoneally, while rats in C-300, C-600 and C-900 groups received 300 ?mol/kg, 600 ?mol/kg and 900 ?mol/kg citicoline dissolved in 2 ml saline, respectively. Rats were tested for sciatic functional index (SFI) on the 4th, 8th and 12th weeks and electrophysiological recordings were obtained on the 12th week. Rats were then sacrificed to investigate nerve adhesions and perform histomorphological examinations.
Our results showed that rats in C-600 and C-900 groups had significantly lesser neural adhesion and greater SFI and electrophysiological score than those in the Control and C-300 groups (p < 0.05). Mean density and total number of functionally myelinated axons were significantly increased in C-900 group, while perineural scar tissue formation was reduced in all citicoline-treated groups.
We conclude that citicoline exhibits dose-dependent effects on axonal regeneration and recovery without scar formation in a rat model of peripheral nerve incision and primary anastomosis.
PMID: 24535792 [PubMed – in process]