There are no specific symptoms credited to a choline deficiency in humans. With choline depletion, fat metabolism and utilization may be decreased, possibly leading to fatty liver. Cell membrane and myelin sheath covering nerves may also be compromised.
Choline is the only single nutrient for which dietary deficiency causes development of liver carcinomas without any known carcinogen
Persons at higher risk for a choline deficiency include infants, pregnant or lactating women, cirrhotic patients, and patients
on TPN. Choline may also be helpful in some individuals with liver disease,
manic conditions, cognitive disorders, tardive dyskinesia and some cancers.
Reproduction and Development: Choline is an essential nutrient for humans. The availability of choline during pregnancy and lactation is critical for normal development of the brain. Choline appears to effect the hippocampus or memory center in the brain. The mother's dietary choline during a critical period in brain development of the infant influences the birth and death rate of hippocampus nerve cells.
Thomas and colleagues7 , using an animal model, suggest that early dietary interventions with choline may reduce the severity of fetal alcohol effects. Sprague-Dawley pregnant rats were fed a liquid diet containing 35% ethanol from gestational day 6-20. On postnatal day 2, pups were assigned choline, saline vehicle, or no treatment until day 21. Ethanol exposed subjects not treated with choline had significantly greater errors during visuospatial discrimination tasks. Choline treated groups showed significant improvement on the visuospatial discrimination task. Early postnatal choline supplementation significantly attenuated the effects of prenatal alcohol on learning skills.
Yang and colleagues8 demonstrate that prenatal choline-supplementation can protect rats against memory deficits induced by status epilepticus. Pregnant rats received a control or choline supplemented diet during days 11 through 17 of gestation. Before the seizure was induced, offspring showed no differences in water maze performance. After status epilepticus, animals on the control diet had a severely impaired water maze performance, while the choline supplemented group's offspring showed no impairment.
Memory: Buchman and
colleagues9 tried to determine if choline-supplemented TPN would lead to
improvement in neuropsychological test scores in adult outpatients who are
choline deficient and receiving TPN. Eleven patients randomly received their
usual TPN or TPN plus 2 g of choline chloride for 24 weeks. The results
indicated both verbal and visual memory might be impaired in patients receiving
long term TPN and both may be improved by supplementing choline.
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