Choline deficiency impairs intestinal lipid metabolism in the lactating rat

J Nutr Biochem. 2015 Oct;26(10):1077-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2015.04.015. Epub 2015 May 29.


Choline is a precursor to phosphatidylcholine (PC), a structural molecule in cellular membranes that is crucial for cell growth and function. PC is also required for the secretion of lipoprotein particles from liver and intestine. Choline requirements are increased during lactation when maternal choline is supplied to the offspring through breast milk. To investigate the effect of dietary choline on intestinal lipid metabolism during lactation, choline-supplemented (CS), phosphatidylcholine-supplemented (PCS) or choline-deficient (CD) diets were fed to dams during the suckling period. CD dams had lower plasma triacylglycerol, cholesterol and apoB in the fasted state and following a fat-challenge (P < .05). There was a higher content of neutral lipids and lower content of PC in the intestine of CD dams, compared with CS and PCS fed animals (P < .05). In addition, there was lower (P < .05) villus height in CD dams, which indicated a reduced absorptive surface area in the intestine. Choline is critical for the absorption of fat in lactating rats and choline deficiency alters intestinal morphology and impairs chylomicron secretion by limiting the supply of PC.

Keywords: Choline; Intestine; Lipid metabolism; Phospholipids; Triacylglycerol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Choline / administration & dosage
  • Choline / physiology
  • Choline Deficiency / physiopathology*
  • Diet
  • Esterification
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Female
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / physiopathology
  • Jejunum / chemistry
  • Lactation / physiology*
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology*
  • Lipids / analysis
  • Lipids / blood
  • Lipoproteins / metabolism
  • Postprandial Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Weight Loss


  • Fatty Acids
  • Lipids
  • Lipoproteins
  • Choline