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Genes Nutr. 2016 Mar 17;11:4. doi: 10.1186/s12263-016-0522-4. eCollection 2016.

Methyl group donors abrogate adaptive responses to dietary restriction in C. elegans.

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Institute of Human Nutrition and Food Science, Molecular Prevention, Christian-Albrechts University of Kiel, Heinrich-Hecht-Platz 10, 24118 Kiel, Germany.
Institute of Genetics, TU Braunschweig, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany.
ZMF-Center for Medical Research, University of Graz, Core Facility for Mass Spectrometry, Lipidomics and Metabolomics, A-8010 Graz, Austria ; Omics Center Graz, A-8010 Graz, Austria.



Almost all animals adapt to dietary restriction through alternative life history traits that affect their growth, reproduction, and survival. Economized management of fat stores is a prevalent type of such adaptations. Because one-carbon metabolism is a critical gauge of food availability, in this study, we used Caenorhabditis elegans to test whether the methyl group donor choline regulates adaptive responses to dietary restriction. We used a modest dietary restriction regimen that prolonged the fecund period without reducing the lifetime production of progeny, which is the best measure of fitness.


We found that dietary supplementation with choline abrogate the dietary restriction-induced prolongation of the reproductive period as well as the accumulation and delayed depletion of large lipid droplets and whole-fat stores and increased the survival rate in the cold. By contrast, the life span-prolonging effect of dietary restriction is not affected by choline. Moreover, we found that dietary restriction led to the enlargement of lipid droplets within embryos and enhancement of the cold tolerance of the progeny of dietarily restricted mothers. Both of these transgenerational responses to maternal dietary restriction were abrogated by exposing the parental generation to choline.


In conclusion, supplementation with the methyl group donor choline abrogates distinct responses to dietary restriction related to reproduction, utilization of fat stored in large lipid droplets, cold tolerance, and thrifty phenotypes in C. elegans.


C. elegans; Choline; Dietary restriction; Life history traits; Lipid droplet; Methyl group donor; Thrifty phenotype

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