The net uptake and output of plasma unesterified choline, glycerophosphocholine, phosphocholine and lipid choline by organs of the conscious chronically catheterized sheep were measured. There was significant production of plasma unesterified choline by the upper- and lower-body regions and the alimentary tract and uptake by the liver, lungs and kidneys. The upper- and lower-body regions drained by the venae cavae provided the bulk (about 82%) of the total body venous return of plasma unesterified choline. Production of plasma unesterified choline by the alimentary tract was approximately balanced by the plasma unesterified choline taken up by the liver, and was almost equal to the amount of choline secreted in the bile. There was a considerable amount of glycerophosphocholine in the liver and there was production of plasma glycerophosphocholine by the liver and uptake by the lungs and kidneys. Glycerophosphocholine was higher in the plasma of sheep than in that of rats. Plasma phosphocholine was produced by the alimentary tract and kidneys. There was production of plasma lipid choline by the upper- and lower-body regions drained by the venae cavae. The results suggest that the sheep synthesizes substantial amounts of choline in ectrahepatic tissues and has the capacity for extensive retention and recycling of bile choline. These observations, coupled with a slow turnover of the endogenous choline body pool, explain the low requirement of sheep for dietary choline in contrast with non-ruminant species.

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