Last Updated: November 18, 2022

Phosphatidylcholine is a phospholipid with a choline attachment and is found in soy lecithin.

Phosphatidylcholine is most often used for.

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Sources and Structure



Phosphatidylcholine appears to be the second most important phospholipid endogenously in the human body (second to sphingolipids) and is generally seen as ubiquitous.

In cell membranes, most phospholipids are based off of phosphatidylcholine with phosphatidylserine contributing a significant portion.



Phosphatidylcholine (PC) is a phospholipid with two fatty acids (these can vary within the molecule and it is still referred to as PC) bound to a glycerol backbone, with the final binding slot occupied by a phosphatic acid and then a choline molecule; demethylation of all methyl groups on the choline results in phosphatidylethanolamine (both phospholipids being common in the diet and sourced in soy lecithin).

If phosphatidylcholine loses both of its fatty acids and retains its choline group, it is referred to as Alpha-GPC.




Cardiovascular Health



34g of phosphatidylcholine (conferring 2,600mg of choline) failed to significantly influence the cholesterol profile of otherwise healthy aged men over the course of two weeks.[1]



Supplementation of 2.6g choline via 34g phosphatidylcholine (soybean) over the course of two weeks in otherwise healthy men (aged 50-71) appears to be able to increase circulating triglycerides (8%) relative to placebo (the fatty acid profile of the lecithin replicated, but without PC).[1]


Fat Mass and Obesity





Phosphatidylcholine (PC) injections (usually as 70% PC with deoxycholate at 4.2% as solvent and benzyl alcohol at 3% as preservative) appear to be used for inducing lipolysis[2] (or alternatively, lipid dissolution[3][4]) with all three agents (but mostly deoxycholate) able to induce adipocyte bursting[5] followed by an increase in triglyceride-rich lipoproteins.[6][2] It appears to be associated with low rates of significant side-effects when used under the guidance of medical professionals[7] although adverse effects have been reported in case studies.[8]

Injections of PC have been used in models of lipodystrophy (a redistibution of adipose tissue in an abnormal manner, commonly seen in HIV patients[9]), where excised cells from lipodystrophic AIDS patients treated with 20mcg/mL of the above injection mixture lysed within 4-5 hours.[10] In a trial on persons with gynoid lipodystrophy, injections of phosphatidylcholine/deoxycholate (4 injections over 8 weeks) appears to reduce localized fat although the a similar level of efficacy as deoxycholate alone.[11]

Two pilot studies have assess orbital fat pads (under the eye) has noted that 0.4-0.5mL of PC have noted mixed effects, with benefit[12] and null results.[13] Benefit has been noted in a small trial on jaw fat, although there was no control group used (benefits noted relative to baseline).[14]

One study has been conducted assessing visceral adipose (a hardened faty surrounding internal organs[15]), and in this animal model (dogs) there was an apparent lipolytic effect following injections.[16] Animal models have also noted lipolytic effects in rat inguinal fat pads as well.[17]

Adipose tissue necrosis can be induced in vitro with such an infusion of PC[18] that may affect other cell types;[19] necrosis of adipose is sometimes observed in animal models[17][20] although not all the time.[21] Long term cost-benefit analyses of safety regarding PC/deoxycholate injections have not yet been undertaken.

Injections of a mixture of deoxychlorate and phosphatidylcholine appear to be commonly used for localized fat loss, most commonly studied for lipodystrophies. Phosphatidylcholine may play a role here, but the trial sizes are relatively small and those used in more hedonistic models (aesthetic fat loss rather than lipodystrophy) are less than optimally structured although theoretically it should apply to all fat deposits. A clear cost-benefit analysis has not yet been conducted

Oral phosphatidylcholine is unlikely to possess such effects as those noted with injections


Pregnancy and Childbirth



750mg of phosphatdylcholine to pregnant mothers from 18 weeks gestation to 90 days postpartum (in addition to around 360mg of choline in the diet) has failed to enhance the brain function of the offspring, suggesting that the dietary choline intake was sufficient.[22]

2.^Hasengschwandtner FPhosphatidylcholine treatment to induce lipolysisJ Cosmet Dermatol.(2005 Dec)
4.^Rittes PGThe lipodissolve technique: clinical experienceClin Plast Surg.(2009 Apr)
8.^Mokosch A, Mota R, Gerber PA, Homey BSevere toxic dermatitis after injection lipolysisHautarzt.(2012 Apr)
9.^Lichtenstein K, Balasubramanyam A, Sekhar R, Freedland EHIV-associated adipose redistribution syndrome (HARS): etiology and pathophysiological mechanismsAIDS Res Ther.(2007 Jun 27)
10.^Witort EJ, Pattarino J, Romano FM, Dini M, Lulli M, Capaccioli SLipolytic effectiveness of phosphatidylcholine in the treatment of 'buffalo hump' of HIV patientsJ Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg.(2011 Jan)
11.^Salti G, Ghersetich I, Tantussi F, Bovani B, Lotti TPhosphatidylcholine and sodium deoxycholate in the treatment of localized fat: a double-blind, randomized studyDermatol Surg.(2008 Jan)
13.^Tawfik HA, Zuel-Fakkar N, Elmarasy R, Talib N, Elsamkary M, Abdallah MAPhosphatidylcholine for the treatment of prominent lower eyelid fat pads: a pilot studyOphthal Plast Reconstr Surg.(2011 May-Jun)
15.^Tchernof A, Després JPPathophysiology of human visceral obesity: an updatePhysiol Rev.(2013 Jan)
16.^Noreldin AA, Abd Elhamid AM, Hashem AM, Afifi AMA Pilot Study on the Use of Injection Lipolysis in Visceral Adipose TissuesAesthet Surg J.(2013 Feb 25)
18.^Bechara FG, Mannherz HG, Jacob M, Mazur AJ, Sand M, Altmeyer P, Hoffmann KInduction of fat cell necrosis in human fat tissue after treatment with phosphatidylcholine and deoxycholateJ Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol.(2012 Feb)
19.^Janke J, Engeli S, Gorzelniak K, Luft FC, Jordan JCompounds used for 'injection lipolysis' destroy adipocytes and other cells found in adipose tissueObes Facts.(2009)
20.^Rittes PG, Rittes JC, Carriel Amary MFInjection of phosphatidylcholine in fat tissue: experimental study of local action in rabbitsAesthetic Plast Surg.(2006 Jul-Aug)