Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Apr;97(4):718-27. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.050211. Epub 2013 Feb 27.

Choline intake influences phosphatidylcholine DHA enrichment in nonpregnant women but not in pregnant women in the third trimester.

Author information

Division of Nutritional Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.



Phosphatidylcholine (PC) produced via the S-adenosylmethionine-dependent phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) N-methyltransferase (PEMT) pathway is enriched with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA plays a critical role in fetal development and is linked to health endpoints in adulthood. It is unknown whether choline, which can serve as a source of S-adenosylmethionine methyl groups, influences PC-DHA or the PC:PE ratio in pregnant and nonpregnant women.


This study tested whether choline intake affects indicators of choline-related lipid metabolism, including erythrocyte and plasma PC-DHA and PC:PE ratios, in pregnant women in the third trimester and nonpregnant women.


Pregnant (n = 26) and nonpregnant (n = 21) women consumed 480 or 930 mg choline/d and a daily DHA supplement for 12 wk. Blood was collected at baseline and at the midpoint and end of the study. PC-DHA was analyzed as the proportion of total PC fatty acids.


Pregnant women had greater (P = 0.002) PC-DHA concentrations than did nonpregnant women at baseline. The proportion of erythrocyte and plasma PC-DHA increased (P ≤ 0.002) in pregnant and nonpregnant women regardless of choline intake. However, in nonpregnant women, consumption of 930 mg choline/d led to greater (P < 0.001) erythrocyte PC-DHA and a more rapid increase (P < 0.001) in plasma PC-DHA. Lower (P = 0.001-0.024) erythrocyte and plasma PC:PE in pregnant women was not modified by choline intake.


A higher choline intake may increase PEMT activity, resulting in greater PC-DHA enrichment of the PC molecule in nonpregnant women. Increased production of PC-DHA during pregnancy indicates elevated PEMT activity and a higher demand for methyl donors. This trial was registered at as NCT01127022.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center