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Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) levels were significantly lower in severely depressed patients than in a neurological control group. The administration of SAM either intravenously or orally is associated with a significant rise of CSF SAM, indicating that it crosses the blood-brain barrier in humans. These observations provide a rational basis for the antidepressant effect of SAM, which has been confirmed in several countries. CSF SAM levels were low in a group of patients with Alzheimer's dementia suggesting a possible disturbance of methylation in such patients and the need for trials of SAM treatment.