Summary: Mice with the Val89 choline transporter variant had reduced rates of choline uptake and a diminished capacity to sustain acetylcholine production during attention-demanding conditions. The effect led to decreased cognitive performance when the mice were faced with additional challenges.

Mutant mice are providing scientists with a new neurobiological framework to understand the brain changes observed in distractible humans who carry a common gene variant whose frequency has been associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The scientists demonstrate that mice that express the variant adopt an inattentive phenotype similar to that seen in humans.

The study, led by researchers from the University of Michigan in collaboration with Florida Atlantic University, Temple University, and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health, used genetically engineered mice to examine the neural and behavioral effects of a choline transporter (CHT) variant.

“Val89 mice lack cognitive flexibility in response to an attentional challenge,” said Eryn Donovan, lead author and a graduate student in the Department of Psychology, University of Michigan.

“Our findings from this mouse model suggest the potential for a more complete investigation of the effects of the CHT Val89 mutation in the brain as well as the development of therapeutic strategies for those with disrupted acetylcholine signaling.”

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the estimated number of children ever diagnosed with ADHD, according to a 2016 parent survey, is 6.1 million.

Read the full article at Neuroscience News.