Determination of high-affinity choline uptake (HACU) and choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) activity in the same population of cultured cells

Balmiki Ray, Jay R. Simon, Debomoy K. Lahiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Cholinergic neurons are a major constituent of the mammalian central nervous system. Acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter used by cholinergic neurons, is synthesized from choline and acetyl CoA by the enzymatic action of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT). The transport of choline into the cholinergic neurons, which results in synthesis of ACh, is hemicholinium-sensitive and is referred to as high-affinity choline uptake (HACU). Thus, the formation of acetylcholine in cholinergic neurons largely depends on both the levels of choline being transported into the cells from the extracellular space and the activity of ChAT. Several methods were described previously to measure HACU and ChAT simultaneously in synaptosomes, but the same for cultured cells is lacking. We describe a procedure to measure HACU and ChAT at the same time in cultured cells by simple techniques employing radionuclides. In this procedure, we determined quantitatively hemicholinium-sensitive choline uptake and ChAT enzyme activity in a small number of differentiated human neuroblastoma (SK-N-SH) cells. We also determined the kinetics of choline uptake in the SK-N-SH cells. We believe that these simple methods can be used for neurochemical and drug discovery studies in several models of neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-168
Number of pages9
JournalBrain research
StatePublished - Oct 22 2009



  • Acetylcholine
  • ChAT
  • Choline uptake
  • Differentiation
  • Enzyme assay
  • HACU
  • Neurodegenerative disorders
  • Neuronal cells
  • Tissue culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Molecular Biology

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