Factors Which Influence the Availability of Choline to Brain

  • S. H. Zeisel
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 30)


Choline is necessary for normal function of the mammalian organism. It is a precursor for the biosynthesis of the cholinephospholipids phosphatidylcholine (PC), sphingomyelin (SM), and choline plasmalogen, which are important constituents of brain membranes [for example, PC contributes eight to fifteen percent of the dry weight of brain (1)]. Free choline is readily accumulated by brain neurons which utilize it as a precursor for the biosynthesis of acetylcholine (ACh; 45). Choline acetyltransferase is not saturated with choline at normal brain concentrations of this amine (41). Therefore, the availability of free choline to neurons directly influences the synthesis of ACh (14, 15, 27). Thus, it is obvious that large numbers of choline molecules must be used by brain for both the maintenance of structural integrity and for cholinergic neurotransmission. Despite this requirement, more unesterified (free) choline leaves the brain, in vivo, than enters it (1, 2, 13, 21). This results in jugular venous levels of free choline that are higher than those of arterial blood entering brain. These concentration differences range from 1 nmol/ml in humans (3) to 1–12 nmol/ml in rats (13, 21, 37). Where does all this free choline come from?


Brain Homogenate Choline Concentration Free Choline Choline Ester Cytidine Triphosphate 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. H. Zeisel
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Pathology and PediatricsBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA

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