A Narrative Review on Maternal Choline Intake and Liver Function of the Fetus and the Infant; Implications for Research, Policy, and Practice
Obeid R et al. Jan 2024. A Narrative Review on Maternal Choline Intake and Liver Function of the Fetus and the Infant; Implications for Research, Policy, and Practice. Nutrients. doi: 10.3390/nu16020260.
Dietary choline is needed to maintain normal health, including normal liver function in adults. Fatty liver induced by a choline-deficient diet has been consistently observed in human and animal studies. The effect of insufficient choline intake on hepatic fat accumulation is specific and reversible when choline is added to the diet. Choline requirements are higher in women during pregnancy and lactation than in young non-pregnant women. We reviewed the evidence on whether choline derived from the maternal diet is necessary for maintaining normal liver function in the fetus and breastfed infants. Studies have shown that choline from the maternal diet is actively transferred to the placenta, fetal liver, and human milk.
This maternal-to-child gradient can cause depletion of maternal choline stores and increase the susceptibility of the mother to fatty liver. Removing choline from the diet of pregnant rats causes fatty liver both in the mother and the fetus. The severity of fatty liver in the offspring was found to correspond to the severity of fatty liver in the respective mothers and to the duration of feeding the choline-deficient diet to the mother.
The contribution of maternal choline intake in normal liver function of the offspring can be explained by the role of phosphatidylcholine in lipid transport and as a component of cell membranes and the function of choline as a methyl donor that enables synthesis of phosphatidylcholine in the liver. Additional evidence is needed on the effect of choline intake during pregnancy and lactation on health outcomes in the fetus and infant. Most pregnant and lactating women are currently not achieving the adequate intake level of choline through the diet.
Therefore, public health policies are needed to ensure sufficient choline intake through adding choline to maternal multivitamin supplements.