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J Nutr. 2002 Jan;132(1):68-71.

Choline deficiency-induced liver damage is reversible in Pemt(-/-) mice.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and CIHR Group on Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2S2, Canada.


Hepatic tissue has two pathways for phosphatidylcholine (PC) synthesis, i.e., the cytidinediphosphocholine (CDP-choline) pathway and the methylation pathway, which utilizes phosphatidylethanolamine-N-methyltransferase (PEMT). Fatal liver damage occurs in Pemt(-/-)mice fed a choline-deficient (CD) diet. We investigated whether liver damage can be reversed by the addition of dietary choline. Mice (8 wk old) were fed the CD purified diet for 4 d, a choline-supplemented (CS) diet (CD diet + 0.4% choline chloride) for 4 d, or the CD diet for 3 d and a CS diet for 1 d (CD/CS). Pemt(-/-)mice fed the CD diet for 3 d exhibited liver damage as assayed by plasma aminotransferase levels. The livers appeared normal after subsequent feeding of the CS diet for 1 d (CD/CS). The activities of plasma aminotransferases of CD/CS fed mice were comparable to Pemt(-/-)mice fed the CS diet. Hepatic PC and triacylglycerol levels as well as plasma PC levels in the CD/CS-fed Pemt(-/-)mice were lower than those of mice fed the CD diet and began to approach normal levels. Although the CD diet induces liver damage in Pemt(-/-)mice, this damage can be rapidly reversed by the addition of dietary choline.

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