Choline and cholinergic neurons

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Science  12 Aug 1983:
Vol. 221, Issue 4611, pp. 614-620
DOI: 10.1126/science.6867732


Mammalian neurons can synthesize choline by methylating phosphatidylethanolamine and hydrolyzing the resulting phosphatidylcholine. This process is stimulated by catecholamines. The phosphatidylethanolamine is synthesized in part from phosphatidylserine; hence the amino acids methionine (acting after conversion to S-adenosylmethionine) and serine can be the ultimate precursors of choline. Brain choline concentrations are generally higher than plasma concentrations, but depend on plasma concentrations because of the kinetic characteristics of the blood-brain-barrier transport system. When cholinergic neurons are activated, acetylcholine release can be enhanced by treatments that increase plasma choline (for example, consumption of certain foods).