Choline in anxiety and depression: the Hordaland Health Study

Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Oct;90(4):1056-60. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27493. Epub 2009 Aug 5.


Background: Despite its importance in the central nervous system as a precursor for acetylcholine and membrane phosphatidylcholine, the role of choline in mental illness has been little studied.

Objective: We examined the cross-sectional association between plasma choline concentrations and scores of anxiety and depression symptoms in a general population sample.

Design: We studied a subsample (n = 5918) of the Hordaland Health Study, including both sexes and 2 age groups of 46-49 and 70-74 y who had valid information on plasma choline concentrations and symptoms of anxiety and depression measured by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale--the latter 2 as continuous measures and dichotomized at a score > or =8 for both subscales.

Results: The lowest choline quintile was significantly associated with high anxiety levels (odds ratio: 1.33; 95% CI: 1.06, 1.69) in the fully adjusted (age group, sex, time since last meal, educational level, and smoking habits) logistic regression model. Also, the trend test in the anxiety model was significant (P = 0.007). In the equivalent fully adjusted linear regression model, a significant inverse association was found between choline quintiles and anxiety levels (standardized regression coefficient = -0.027, P = 0.045). We found no significant associations in the corresponding analyses of the relation between plasma choline and depression symptoms.

Conclusion: In this large population-based study, choline concentrations were negatively associated with anxiety symptoms but not with depression symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anxiety / blood*
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Choline / blood*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / blood*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway


  • Choline