Serum choline is associated with hepatocellular carcinoma survival: a prospective cohort study

Nutr Metab (Lond). 2020 Mar 30:17:25. doi: 10.1186/s12986-020-00445-z. eCollection 2020.


Background: Higher choline and betaine levels have been linked to lower risk of liver cancer, whereas existing data in relation to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) prognosis are scarce. Our objective was to examine the associations of the serum choline and betaine with HCC survival.

Methods: 866 newly diagnosed HCC patients were enrolled in the Guangdong Liver Cancer Cohort. Serum choline and betaine were assessed using high-performance liquid chromatography with online electro-spray ionization tandem mass spectrometry. Liver cancer-specific survival (LCSS) and overall survival (OS) were calculated. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate the hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).

Results: Serum choline levels were associated with better LCSS (T3 vs. T1: HR = 0.69, 95% CI: 0.51-0.94; P -trend < 0.05) and OS (T3 vs. T1: HR = 0.73, 95% CI: 0.54-0.99; P -trend < 0.05). The associations were significantly modified by C-reactive protein (CRP) levels but not by other selected prognostic factors including sex, age, etc. The favorable associations between serum choline and LCSS and OS were only existed among patients with CRP ≥3.0 mg/L. No significant associations were found between serum betaine levels and either LCSS or OS.

Conclusions: This study revealed that higher serum choline levels were associated with better HCC survival, especially in HCC patients with systemic inflammation status. No significant associations were found between serum betaine and HCC survival. Our findings suggest the benefits of choline on HCC survival.

Trial registration: The Guangdong Liver Cancer Cohort was registered at as NCT03297255.

Keywords: Betaine; Choline; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Survival.

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