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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter September 12, 2012

Plasma choline and betaine correlate with serum folate, plasma S-adenosyl-methionine and S-adenosyl-homocysteine in healthy volunteers

  • Apolline Imbard EMAIL logo , Yvo M. Smulders , Rob Barto , Desiree E.C. Smith , Robert M. Kok , Cornelis Jakobs and Henk J. Blom


Background: Choline is essential for mammalian cell function. It plays a critical role in cell membrane integrity, neurotransmission, cell signaling and lipid metabolism. Moreover, choline is involved in methylation in two ways: a) its synthesis requires methyl groups donated by S-adenosyl-methionine (AdoMet); and b) choline oxidation product betaine methylates homocysteine (Hcy) to methionine (Met) and produces dimethylglycine. This later donates one carbon units to tetrahydrofolate (THF).

Methods: To evaluate the correlations of choline and betaine with folate, AdoMet, S-anenosyl-homocysteine (AdoHcy), total homocysteine (tHcy), and DNA methylation, choline, betaine and dimethylglycine were measured by LC-MS/MS in plasma of 109 healthy volunteers, in whom folate, AdoMet, AdoHcy, tHcy, and DNA methylation have previously been reported.

Results: Using a bivariate model, choline and betaine showed strong positive correlations with folate (r=0.346 and r=0.226), AdoHcy (r=0.468 and r=0.296), and correlated negatively with AdoMet/AdoHcy ratio (r=–0.246 and r=–0.379). Only choline was positively correlated with AdoMet (r=0.453). Using a multivariate linear regression model, choline correlated strongly with folate (β=17.416), AdoMet (β=61.272), and AdoHcy (β=9.215). Betaine correlated positively with folate (β=0.133) and negatively with tHcy (β=–0.194) ratio. Choline is an integral part of folate and methylation pathways.

Conclusions: Our data highlight the importance of integrating choline in studies concerning addressing pathological conditions related to folate, homocysteine and methylation metabolism.

Corresponding author: Apolline Imbard, Biochemistry-Hormonology Laboratory, Robert Debré Hospital, 48 Boulevard Serurier, 75019 Paris, France Phone: +33 01 40034722, Fax: +33 01 40034790

The authors would like to thank the volunteers from the hospital personnel for their participation in this study.

Conflict of interest statement

Authors’ conflict of interest disclosure: The authors stated that there are no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this article.

Research funding: None declared.

Employment or leadership: None declared.

Honorarium: None declared.


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Received: 2012-5-13
Accepted: 2012-8-18
Published Online: 2012-09-12
Published in Print: 2013-03-01

©2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston

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