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Nutr Cancer. 2012 Apr;64(3):481-7. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2012.660671. Epub 2012 Mar 22.

Choline and/or folic acid deficiency is associated with genomic damage and cell death in human lymphocytes in vitro.

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School of Life Sciences, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming, Yunnan, China.


Choline and folate are interrelated methyl donors. Previous studies showed that folate prevents genomic damage in human lymphocytes in vitro; however, the association between choline and human genomic stability is uncertain. To explore the genotoxicity, cytotoxicity, and cytostatic effects and possible interactions of choline and/or folate deficiency on the human genome, lymphocytes from 6 volunteers were cultured in 18 combinations of choline (CC) and folic acid (FA) media for 9 days. The genotoxicity was evaluated by micronuclei, nucleoplasmic bridges, and nuclear buds in the binucleated cell; the cytotoxicity indices included apoptosis and necrosis, and the cytostatic effects were indicated by nuclear division index (NDI). Across all choline concentrations, the frequencies of all biomarkers except NDI were diminished when FA concentration was more than or equal to 120 nmol/L. The frequencies of micronuclei, buds, and necrosis were significantly higher at lower levels of CC (0-6 μmol/L) compared with higher concentrations of CC (12-21.5 μmol/L) while maintaining the same FA concentration. We concluded that both choline and folate significantly impact genomic stability and cell death, although effects of folate were 2.5- to 6.2-fold greater, depending on the biomarker and dose. A combination of 12 μmol/L CC and 120 nmol/L FA appears to be optimal for genomic integrity in vitro.

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