Choline is an essential nutrient utilized for phosphatidylcholine biosynthesis and lipoprotein packaging and secretion. Recently, choline supplementation has been used by athletes and the public for weight loss. However, the potential toxicological impact of choline dietary supplementation requires further investigation. This study examined the effects of choline dietary supplementation in Sprague Dawley rats for 4 weeks. Rats were fed diets containing basal choline levels (control) or 5-, 10-, or 15-fold (5×, 10×, or 15×) basal diet concentration. In groups fed choline-supplemented diets, there were no toxicologically relevant findings in clinical observations, food intake, clinical chemistry, liver weights, or liver histopathology. However, decreased mean body weights (8.5-10.2%) and body weight gains (24-31%) were noted for the 10× choline-supplemented (females only) and 15× choline-supplemented (both sexes) groups relative to the control groups from day 3 onward. These body weight effects were not related to a persistent reduction in average food intake. Serum cholesterol was increased in the 15× choline-supplemented male rats relative to the controls, an expected effect of choline supplementation; however, there were no changes in the serum cholesterol of female rats. Serum choline concentrations were increased in female rats relative to the male rats across all treatment groups. The maximum tolerated dose for male and female rats were the 15× and 10× choline supplements, respectively, based on decreased mean body weight and body weight gains. This study supported the conclusions of a clinical trial that showed a high choline diet can decrease body weight in humans.
Keywords: Sex related; choline dietary supplement; decreased body weight; liver histopathology.