Metabolism and actions of CDP-choline as an endogenous compound and administered exogenously as citicoline

Life Sci. 1995;56(9):637-60. doi: 10.1016/0024-3205(94)00427-t.


CDP-choline, supplied exogenously as citicoline, has beneficial physiological actions on cellular function that have been extensively studied and characterized in numerous model systems. As the product of the rate-limiting step in the synthesis of phosphatidylcholine from choline, CDP-choline and its hydrolysis products (cytidine and choline) play important roles in generation of phospholipids involved in membrane formation and repair. They also contribute to such critical metabolic functions as formation of nucleic acids, proteins, and acetylcholine. Orally-administered citicoline is hydrolyzed in the intestine, absorbed rapidly as choline and cytidine, resynthesized in liver and other tissues, and subsequently mobilized in CDP-choline synthetic pathways. Citicoline is efficiently utilized in brain cells for membrane lipid synthesis where it not only increases phospholipid synthesis but also inhibits phospholipid degradation. Exogenously administered citicoline prevents, reduces, or reverses effects of ischemia and/or hypoxia in most animal and cellular models studied, and acts in head trauma models to decrease and limit nerve cell membrane damage, restore intracellular regulatory enzyme sensitivity and function, and limit edema. Thus, considerable accumulated evidence supports use of citicoline to enhance membrane maintenance, membrane repair, and neuronal function in conditions such as ischemic and traumatic injuries. Beneficial effects of exogenous citicoline also have been postulated and/or reported in experimental models for dyskinesia, Parkinson's disease, cardiovascular disease, aging, Alzheimer's disease, learning and memory, and cholinergic stimulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / drug therapy
  • Cytidine Diphosphate Choline / metabolism*
  • Cytidine Diphosphate Choline / pharmacokinetics
  • Cytidine Diphosphate Choline / pharmacology*
  • Cytidine Diphosphate Choline / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / drug therapy
  • Hypoxia / metabolism
  • Ischemia / drug therapy
  • Ischemia / metabolism
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Phospholipids / metabolism


  • Phospholipids
  • Cytidine Diphosphate Choline