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J Nutr Biochem. 1990 Oct;1(10):533-41.

Effects of choline deficiency and methotrexate treatment upon rat liver.

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Nutrient Metabolism Laboratory, Department of Pathology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.


Choline deficiency and treatment with methotrexate (MTX) both are associated with fatty infiltration of the liver. Choline, methionine, and folate metabolism are interrelated and converge at the regeneration of methionine from homocysteine. MTX perturbs folate metabolism, and it is possible that it also influences choline metabolism. We fed rats a choline deficient diet for 2 weeks and/or treated them with methotrexate (MTX; 0.1 mg/kg daily). Choline deficiency lowered hepatic concentrations of choline (to 43% control), phosphocholine (PCho; to 18% control), glycerophosphocholine (GroPCho; to 46% control), betaine (to 30% control), phosphatidylcholine (PtdCho; to 62% control), methionine (to 80% control), and S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet; to 57% control), while S-adenosylhomocysteine (AdoHcy) and triacylglycerol concentrations increased (to 126% and 319% control, respectively). MTX treatment alone lowered hepatic concentrations of PCho (to 48% control), GroPCho (to 69% control), betaine (to 55% control), and AdoMet (to 75% control). The addition of MTX treatment to choline deficiency resulted in a larger decrease in AdoMet concentrations (to 75% control) and larger increases in AdoHcy and triacylglycerol concentrations (to 150% and 500% control, respectively) than was observed in choline deficiency alone. Livers from MTX-treated animals used radiolabeled choline to make the same metabolites as did livers from controls (most of the label was converted to PCho and betaine). In choline deficient animals, most of the labeled choline was converted to PtdCho. Therefore, MTX depleted hepatic PCho, GroPCho, and betaine by a mechanism that was different from that of choline deficiency. MTX increased the extent of fatty infiltration of the liver in choline deficient rats, and choline deficiency and MTX treatment damaged hepatocytes as measured by leakage of alanine aminotransferase activity. Our data are consistent with the hypothesis that the fatty infiltration of the liver associated with MTX treatment occurs because of a disturbance in choline metabolism.

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