Citicoline (CDP-choline): mechanisms of action and effects in ischemic brain injury

Neurol Res. 1995 Aug;17(4):281-4. doi: 10.1080/01616412.1995.11740327.


Citicoline is approved in Europe and Japan for use in stroke, head trauma and other neurological disorders. It is presently being evaluated in phase II/III stroke trials in the United States. Exogenous administration of CDP-choline provides both choline and cytidine which access the brain and serve as substrates for the synthesis of phosphatidylcholine, a primary neuronal membrane component; the choline also enhances brain acetylcholine synthesis. Membrane repair and regeneration is necessary for recovery from stroke. Furthermore, citicoline may alleviate free fatty acid-induced toxicity which accompanies ischemic insult. Data from many pre-clinical and clinical trials support the hypothesis that citicoline may be a safe and effective treatment for stroke.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Ischemia / drug therapy*
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cytidine Diphosphate Choline / therapeutic use*
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • United States


  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Cytidine Diphosphate Choline