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Inflammation and Homocysteine Levels Linked

Researchers have found that people who consume higher amounts of choline and its metabolite betaine have lower levels of inflammation and lower levels of homocysteine. Inflammation was measured by C-reactive protein, interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha; homocysteine is an amino acid implicated in heart disease.

The researchers examined data on 1,514 men and 1,528 women aged between 18 and 89 with no cardiovascular disease. The study authors calculated dietary intakes of choline and betaine using a validated food-frequency questionnaire. Blood samples were taken to measure levels of the inflammatory markers C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha).

The researchers found that compared to people with the lowest average intake of choline (less than 250 mg per day), participants with the highest average intake (above 310 mg per day) had systemic inflammation measurement CRP levels that were 22 percent lower, interleukin-6 concentrations that were 26 percent lower, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha levels that were 6 percent lower.

Subjects consuming the highest average betaine intake (more than 360 mg per day) had CRP levels 19 percent lower than people with the lowest average intake (less than 260 mg per day). TNF-alpha and homocysteine levels were 12 and 10 percent lower, respectively, in individuals with the highest betaine intakes than in people with the lowest average intake.

The researchers concluded, “Our results support an association between choline and betaine intakes and the inflammation process in free-eating and apparently healthy adults.”


Detopoulou P, Panagiotakos DB, Antonopoulou S, Pitsavos C, Stefanadis C. Dietary choline and betaine intakes in relation to concentrations of inflammatory markers in healthy adults: the ATTICA study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Feb;87(2):424-30.

Key concepts: homocysteine, inflammation, crp, c-reactive protein, interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor-alpha