Folate is an essential nutrient that supports nucleotide synthesis and biological methylation reactions. Diminished folate status results in chromosome breakage and is associated with several diseases, including colorectal cancer. Folate status is also inversely related to plasma homocysteine concentrations—a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
We sought to gain further understanding of the genetic determinants of plasma folate and homocysteine concentrations. Because folate is required for the synthesis of thymidine from uracil, the latter accumulating and being misincorporated into DNA during folate depletion, the DNA uracil content was also measured.
Thirteen single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in genes involved in folate uptake and metabolism, including folate hydrolase (FOLH1), folate polyglutamate synthase (FPGS), γ-glutamyl hydrolase (GGH), methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR), methionine synthase (MTR), proton-coupled folate transporter (PCFT), and reduced folate carrier (RFC1), were studied in a cohort of 991 individuals.
The MTHFR 677TT genotype was associated with increased plasma homocysteine and decreased plasma folate. MTHFR 1298A>C and RFC1 intron 5A>G polymorphisms were associated with significantly altered plasma homocysteine concentrations. The FOLH1 1561C>T SNP was associated with altered plasma folate concentrations. The MTHFR 677TT genotype was associated with a ≈34% lower DNA uracil content (P = 0.045), whereas the G allele of the GGH – 124T>G SNP was associated with a stepwise increase in DNA uracil content (P = 0.022).
Because the accumulation of uracil in DNA induces chromosome breaks, mutagenic lesions, we suggest that, as for MTHFR C677T, the GGH – 124 T>G SNP may modulate the risk of carcinogenesis and therefore warrants further attention.
S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) is a primary methyl donor for the methylation of many molecules including DNA. DNA methylation is believed to play an important role in functions of cells and genes. Dietary, genetic and metabolic factors that influence systematic SAM levels are not fully understood. We conducted cross-sectional analysis to evaluate associations between plasma concentrations of one-carbon metabolism nutrients and metabolites and plasma SAM concentrations using healthy individuals within the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Plasma SAM, betaine, choline, folate, total homocysteine (Hcy), methionine, S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH), vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 concentrations were quantified. Genotypes of methionine adenosyltransferases (MAT1A, MAT2A and MAT2B) were also determined. Linear regression and path analysis were performed to depict the directed dependencies in one-carbon metabolism. Age and body mass index were positively associated while cigarette smoking were inversely associated with plasma SAM concentrations. Plasma choline, methionine and SAH were positively and strongly associated with plasma SAM after adjustment for confounders. Plasma betaine and folate were positively associated with plasma SAM only in men. Men carrying the variant MAT1A genotypes had lower plasma SAM concentrations than men carrying the wild type genotype (p for gene x gender interaction = 0.02). This effect modification by gender was restricted to individuals with low plasma methionine. In conclusion, plasma choline, methionine and SAH were strongly associated with plasma SAM concentrations. The MAT1A genetic polymorphism may impact plasma SAM concentrations in men with low plasma methionine concentrations.
One-carbon metabolism; plasma SAM; MAT genetic polymorphism; path analysis
The enzymes folylpolyglutamate synthase (FPGS) and gamma-glutamyl hydrolase (GGH) are essential for determining intracellular folate availability for one-carbon metabolism (OCM) pathways. FPGS adds glutamyl groups to the folate molecule, thereby converting folate into the preferred substrate for several enzymes in OCM pathways. GGH removes glutamyl groups, allowing folate metabolites to leave the cell. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the FPGS and GGH genes influence measured plasma homocysteine levels. Study participants were a sub-cohort (n = 482) from the Singapore Chinese Health Study. SNPs were selected using HapMap tagSNPs and SNPs previously reported in the scientific literature. Multiple linear regression was used to evaluate the association between individual SNPs and plasma homocysteine levels. Two FPGS (rs10106, rs1098774) and 9 GGH (rs719235, rs1031552, rs1800909, rs3758149, rs3780126, rs3824333, rs4617146, rs11545076, rs11545078) SNPs were included in the final analysis. Neither of the FPGS SNPs, but three GGH SNPs were associated with plasma homocysteine levels: rs11545076 (p=0.001), rs1800909 (p=0.02), and rs3758149 (p = 0.006). Only one (rs11545076) remained statistically significant after adjusting for multiple comparisons. This study suggests that GGH SNPs, rs11545076, rs1800909, and rs3758149, may have functional relevance and result in alterations in plasma homocysteine levels. Since this is one of the first studies to assess FPGS and GGH genetic variants in relation to plasma homocysteine, further research is needed to confirm these findings and characterize the functional effects of these variants.
FPGS; GGH; Folate; Homocysteine; SNP
Background and Aims
Epidemiologic studies have linked nutritional folate deficiency to an increased risk of cancer, but recent trials suggest that folate supplementation does not protect against tumor formation. Our aim was to analyze the genetic and epigenetic consequences of folate deficiency and to investigate whether impairment of the uracil base excision repair pathway can enhance its effects.
Wild-type mice and those deficient in uracil DNA glycosylase (Ung−/−) were placed on a folate-deficient diet for 8 months. We measured tumor incidence in major organs, DNA mutation rates, DNA mutation spectra, local DNA methylation, and global DNA methylation in colon epithelial cells.
The experimental diet increased plasma homocysteine (60%, P < .001) and DNA uracil content (24%, P < .05) but not tumor formation. Global DNA methyllation was slightly decreased in splenocytes (9.1%) and small intestinal epithelial cells (4.2%), and significantly reduced in colon epithelial cells (7.2%, P < .04). No gene-specific changes in methylation were detected at the mouse B1 element, the H19 DMR, or the Oct4 gene. By λ CII assay and sequencing analysis of 730 mutants, we found that Ung−/− mice had a higher frequency of point mutations and increased C:G to T:A transitions at non-CpG sites. However, folate deficiency had no additional effect on the DNA mutation frequency or spectrum in Ung−/− or wild-type mice.
Contradicting current concepts, these findings indicate that the effects of a low-folate diet on DNA methylation and point mutations are insufficient to promote tumor development, even in the presence of Ung deficiency.
Folate metabolism, also known as one-carbon metabolism, is required for several cellular processes including DNA synthesis, repair and methylation. Impairments of this pathway have been often linked to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In addition, increasing evidence from large scale case-control studies, genome-wide association studies, and meta-analyses of the literature suggest that polymorphisms of genes involved in one-carbon metabolism influence the levels of folate, homocysteine and vitamin B12, and might be among AD risk factors. We analyzed a dataset of 30 genetic and biochemical variables (folate, homocysteine, vitamin B12, and 27 genotypes generated by nine common biallelic polymorphisms of genes involved in folate metabolism) obtained from 40 late-onset AD patients and 40 matched controls to assess the predictive capacity of Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) in distinguish consistently these two different conditions and to identify the variables expressing the maximal amount of relevant information to the condition of being affected by dementia of Alzheimer’s type. Moreover, we constructed a semantic connectivity map to offer some insight regarding the complex biological connections among the studied variables and the two conditions (being AD or control). TWIST system, an evolutionary algorithm able to remove redundant and noisy information from complex data sets, selected 16 variables that allowed specialized ANNs to discriminate between AD and control subjects with over 90% accuracy. The semantic connectivity map provided important information on the complex biological connections among one-carbon metabolic variables highlighting those most closely linked to the AD condition.
Folate is involved in the one-carbon metabolism that plays an essential role in the synthesis, repair and methylation of DNA. We examined whether child’s germline genetic variation in the folate pathway is associated with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and whether periconception maternal folate and alcohol intake modify the risk.
Seventy-six single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), including 66 haplotype-tagging SNPs in 10 genes (CBS, DHFR, FOLH1, MTHFD1, MTHFR, MTR, MTRR, SHMT1, SLC19A1, and TYMS) were genotyped in 377 ALL cases and 448 controls. Log-additive associations between genotypes and ALL risk were adjusted for age, sex, Hispanic ethnicity (when appropriate), and maternal race.
Single and haplotype SNPs analyses showed statistically significant associations between SNPs located in (or adjacent to) CBS, MTRR, TYMS/ENOFS and childhood ALL. Many regions of CBS were associated with childhood ALL in Hispanics and non-Hispanics (P <0.01). Levels of maternal folate intake modified associations with SNPs in CBS, MTRR, and TYMS.
Our data suggest the importance of genetic variability in the folate pathway and childhood ALL risk.
Case-control study; Children; DNA methylation; Folate; Genetic polymorphisms; Leukemia
Low plasma B-vitamin levels and elevated homocysteine have been associated with cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative disorders. Common variants in FUT2 on chromosome 19q13 were associated with plasma vitamin B12 levels among women in a genome-wide association study in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) NCI-Cancer Genetic Markers of Susceptibility (CGEMS) project. To identify additional loci associated with plasma vitamin B12, homocysteine, folate and vitamin B6 (active form pyridoxal 5′-phosphate, PLP), we conducted a meta-analysis of three GWA scans (total n = 4763, consisting of 1658 women in NHS-CGEMS, 1647 women in Framingham-SNP-Health Association Resource (SHARe) and 1458 men in SHARe). On chromosome 19q13, we confirm the association of plasma vitamin B12 with rs602662 and rs492602 (P-value = 1.83 × 10−15 and 1.30 × 10−14, respectively) in strong linkage disequilibrium (LD) with rs601338 (P = 6.92 × 10−15), the FUT2 W143X nonsense mutation. We identified additional genome-wide significant loci for plasma vitamin B12 on chromosomes 6p21 (P = 4.05 × 10−08), 10p12 (P-value=2.87 × 10−9) and 11q11 (P-value=2.25 × 10−10) in genes with biological relevance. We confirm the association of the well-studied functional candidate SNP 5,10-methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) Ala222Val (dbSNP ID: rs1801133; P-value=1.27 × 10−8), on chromosome 1p36 with plasma homocysteine and identify an additional genome-wide significant locus on chromosome 9q22 (P-value=2.06 × 10−8) associated with plasma homocysteine. We also identified genome-wide associations with variants on chromosome 1p36 with plasma PLP (P-value=1.40 × 10−15). Genome-wide significant loci were not identified for plasma folate. These data reveal new biological candidates and confirm prior candidate genes for plasma homocysteine, plasma vitamin B12 and plasma PLP.
Folate and one-carbon metabolism are linked to cancer risk through their integral role in DNA synthesis and methylation. Variation in one-carbon metabolism genes, particularly MTHFR, has been associated with risk of a number of cancers in epidemiologic studies, but little is known regarding renal cancer.
Tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) selected to produce high genomic coverage of 13 gene regions of one-carbon metabolism (ALDH1L1, BHMT, CBS, FOLR1, MTHFR, MTR, MTRR, SHMT1, SLC19A1, TYMS) and the closely associated glutathione synthesis pathway (CTH, GGH, GSS) were genotyped for 777 renal cell carcinoma (RCC) cases and 1,035 controls in the Central and Eastern European Renal Cancer case-control study. Associations of individual SNPs (n = 163) with RCC risk were calculated using unconditional logistic regression adjusted for age, sex and study center. Minimum p-value permutation (Min-P) tests were used to identify gene regions associated with risk, and haplotypes were evaluated within these genes.
The strongest associations with RCC risk were observed for SLC19A1 (Pmin-P = 0.03) and MTHFR (Pmin-P = 0.13). A haplotype consisting of four SNPs in SLC19A1 (rs12483553, rs2838950, rs2838951, and rs17004785) was associated with a 37% increased risk (p = 0.02), and exploratory stratified analysis suggested the association was only significant among those in the lowest tertile of vegetable intake.
To our knowledge, this is the first study to comprehensively examine variation in one-carbon metabolism genes in relation to RCC risk. We identified a novel association with SLC19A1, which is important for transport of folate into cells. Replication in other populations is required to confirm these findings.
The homocysteine level is considered to be a product of genetic and lifestyle interactions, mainly mutated methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) and the intake of folate, vitamin B12 and pyridoxine, and their blood levels. Physical activity has been associated with lower homocysteine levels in some population studies, especially among elderly subjects. To further elucidate the observed association between homocysteine and physical activity, while accounting for the effect of the MTHFR C677T genotype, and of plasma levels of folate and B12 vitamins, a cross-sectional study of 620 males and females, aged 70.5 ± 6.8 years, was carried out. Information on lifestyle habits was collected and laboratory examinations of 12-h fasting total plasma homocysteine, folate, and vitamin B12, as well as DNA analysis for MTHFR C677T variant, were performed. Median total homocysteine values were 11.4 μmol/l for males and 9.4 for females; p < 0.001. Smoking and ethnic origin were not found to be associated with homocysteine levels. Physically active subjects had significantly lower total homocysteine levels when adjusted for sex (p = 0.01). Significant inverse correlations were found between body mass index, plasma folate, B12 and homocysteine levels. Homocysteine levels of the CC, CT and TT genotypes were 9.7, 10.6 and 10.2 μmol/l, respectively (p = 0.002, controlling for sex). In a multiple linear regression model, a sedentary lifestyle increased homocysteine levels by 7% as compared to an active one (p = 0.03) controlling for sex, age, body mass index, folate, vitamin B12, and C677T genotype, all of which were also found to be significantly associated with homocysteine levels. Any level of physical activity was found to be independently associated with lower homocysteine levels in an elderly population, controlling for MTHFR genotype, plasma B-vitamins, age, sex, smoking and BMI. This study emphasizes the importance of maintaining a physically active lifestyle in the elderly.
B vitamins; Elderly; Homocysteine; Lifestyle; MTHFR genotyping; Physical activity
Clinical research indicates that periconceptional administration of folic acid can reduce the occurrence of congenital cardiac septal defects (CCSDs). The vital roles of folate exhibits in three ways: the unique methyl donor for DNA expression regulation, the de novo biosynthesis of purine and pyrimidine for DNA construction, and the serum homocysteine removal. Thymidylate synthase (TYMS) is the solo catalysis enzyme for the de novo synthesis of dTMP, which is the essential precursor of DNA biosynthesis and repair process. To examine the role of TYMS in Congenital Cardiac Septal Defects (CCSDs) risk, we investigated whether genetic polymorphisms in the TYMS gene associated with the CCSDs in a Han Chinese population.
Polymorphisms in the noncoding region of TYMS were identified via direct sequencing in 32 unrelated individuals composed of half CCSDs and half control subjects. Nine SNPs and two insertion/deletion polymorphisms were genotyped from two independent case-control studies involving a total of 529 CCSDs patients and 876 healthy control participants. The associations were examined by both single polymorphism and haplotype tests using logistic regression.
We found that TYMS polymorphisms were not related to the altered CCSDs risk, and even to the changed risk of VSDs subgroup, when tested in both studied groups separately or in combination. In the haplotype analysis, there were no haplotypes significantly associated with risks for CCSDs either.
Our results show no association between common genetic polymorphisms of the regulatory region of the TYMS gene and CCSDs in the Han Chinese population.
We examined the effect of parental folate deficiency on the folate content, global DNA methylation, folate receptor-alpha (FRα), insulin-like-growth factor-2 (IGF-2) and -1 receptor (IGF-1R) in the liver and plasma homocysteine in the postnatal rat. Male and female rats were randomly fed a folic acid-deficient (paternal folate-deficient, PD and maternal folate-deficient, MD), or folic acid-supplemented diet (paternal folate-supplemented, PS and maternal-folate-supplemented, MS) for four weeks. They were mated and grouped accordingly: PSxMS, PSxMD, PDxMS, and PDxMD. Pups were killed on day 21 of lactation. The hepatic folate content was markedly reduced in the PDxMD and PSxMD and PDxMS as compared with the PSxMS group. The hepatic global DNA methylation was decreased in the PDxMS and PSxMD groups as much as in the PDxMD group, and all the three groups were significantly lower as compared to the PSxMS group. There were no significant differences in the hepatic FRα, IGF-2 and IGF-1R expressions among the groups. Positive correlations were found between the hepatic folate content and global DNA methylation and protein expressions of FRα, IGF-2 and IGF-1R, whereas an inverse correlation was found between hepatic folate content and plasma homocysteine level in the 3-week-old rat pup. The results of this study show that both paternal and maternal folate deficiency at mating can influence the folate content and global DNA methylation in the postnatal rat liver.
Postnatal liver; folate content; global DNA methylation; FRα; IGF-2
DNA hypomethylation may increase the risk of colorectal cancer. The main aim of this study was to assess the influence of folate status (serum and erythrocyte folate and plasma homocysteine concentrations) on DNA methylation. Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR 677C → T and 1298A → C), methionine synthase (MS 2756A → G) and cystathionine synthase (CBS 844ins68) polymorphisms were measured to account for potential confounding effects on folate status and DNA methylation. A total of 68 subjects (33 men and 35 women, 36–78 years) free from colorectal polyps or cancer were recruited in a cross-sectional study. Tissue biopsies were obtained at colonoscopy for the determination of DNA methylation in colonic mucosa using an in vitro radiolabelled methyl acceptance assay. Serum and erythrocyte folate were inversely correlated with plasma homocysteine (r=−0.573, P<0.001 and r=−0.307, P=0.01 respectively) and DNA hypomethylation in colonic mucosa (r=−0.311, P=0.01 and r=−0.356, P=0.03). After adjusting for gender, age, body mass index, smoking and genotype, there were weak negative associations between serum and erythrocyte folate and colonic DNA hypomethylation (P=0.07 and P=0.08, respectively).
folate; homocysteine; DNA methylation; colorectal cancer; genotype; MTHFR; MS; CBS
Low folate status may be a consequence of suboptimal intake, transport or cellular utilization of folate and, together with elevated homocysteine, is a recognized risk factor/marker for several human pathologies. As folate transport across cell membranes is mediated in part by the reduced folate carrier (RFC1), variants within this gene may influence disease risk via an effect on folate and/or homocysteine levels. The present study was undertaken to assess the association between the SLC19A1 (RFC1) c.80G>A polymorphism and folate/homocysteine concentrations in healthy young adults from Northern Ireland.
The SLC19A1 c.80G>A polymorphism was not strongly associated with either serum folate or homocysteine concentrations in either men or women. However, in women, but not in men, this polymorphism explained 5% of the variation in red blood cell (RBC) folate levels (P=0.02). Relative to women with the SLC19A1 c.80GG genotype, women with the GA and AA genotypes had higher RBC folate concentrations. Consequently, compared to women with the SLC19A1 c.80AA and GA genotypes, women who are homozygous for the 80G allele may be at increased risk of having a child affected with a neural tube defect and of developing pathologies that have been associated with folate insufficiency, such as cardiovascular disease.
Reduced folate carrier; folate; homocysteine; RFC1; SLC19A1; SNP
A potential relationship between transposon-derived repeats (TDR) and human germline methylation is of biological importance since many genes are flanked by TDR and methylation could affect the expression of nearby genes. Furthermore, DNA methylation has been suggested as a global defense mechanism against genome instability threatened by TDR. We studied the correlation between the density of HapMap methyl-associated SNPs (mSNPs), a marker of germline methylation, and proportion of TDR.
After correcting for confounding variables, we found a negative correlation between proportion of Alu repeats and mSNP density for 125–1000 kb windows. Similar results were found for the most active subgroup of repeats. In contrast, a negative correlation between proportion of L1 repeats and mSNP density was found only in the larger 1000 kb windows.
Using methylation data on germ cells (sperm) from the Human Epigenome Project, we found a lower proportion of Alu repeats adjacent (3–15 kb) to hypermethylated amplicons. On the contrary, there was a higher proportion of L1 repeats in the 3–5 kb of sequence flanking hypermethylated amplicons but not in the 10–15 kb flanks.
Our data indicate a differential response to the major repeat families and that DNA methylation is unlikely to be a uniform global defense system against all TDR. It appears to play a role for the L1 subgroup, with sequences adjacent to L1 repeats methylated in response to their proximity. In contrast, sequences adjacent to Alu repeats appear to be hypomethylated, arguing against a role of methylation in germline defense against those elements.
Repeats; Alu; L1; HapMap; Germline; Methylation
Hyperhomocysteinemia is more commonly associated with vascular disease in Indians than in the western populations. It is caused by genetic polymorphisms or dietary deficiencies of the B vitamins. We attempted to identify the association of hyperhomocysteinemia with vitamin B12 and folate in Indian patients of vascular disease. Homocysteine, vitamin B12 and folate levels were estimated in 100 controls and 100 patients of vascular disease. Homocysteine estimation was repeated in 73 patients on different vitamin supplements for 6 months. Homocysteine exhibited a significant negative correlation with B12 only in cerebrovascular disease and peripheral vascular diseasepatients, and with folate in coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular disease patients as well as controls. Single daily dose of folate was as effective as a combination of folate and cobalamin in reducing plasma homocysteine concentrations. Low levels of B12 contribute to the higher incidence of cerebrovascular disease and peripheral vascular disease, and low folate levels account for higher prevalence of hyperhomocysteinemia in coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular disease. Moreover, irrespective of the cause of hyperhomocysteinemia, folate is known to ameliorate it. Hence, large-scale corrective measures like food fortification or dietary supplementation with folate might benefit the Indian population and reduce the incidence and morbidity of vascular disease.
vitamin B12; folate; food fortification; hyperhomocysteinemia; vascular disease
Objectives. SLC2A9 gene variants associate with serum uric acid in white populations, but little is known about African American populations. Since SLC2A9 is a transporter, gene variants may be expected to associate more closely with the fractional excretion of urate, a measure of renal tubular transport, than with serum uric acid, which is influenced by production and extrarenal clearance.
Methods. Genotypes of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) distributed across the SLC2A9 gene were obtained in the Genetic Epidemiology Network of Arteriopathy cohorts. The associations of SNPs with serum uric acid, fractional excretion of urate and urine urate-to-creatinine ratio were assessed with adjustments for age, sex, diuretic use, BMI, homocysteine and triglycerides.
Results. We identified SLC2A9 gene variants that were associated with serum uric acid in 1155 African American subjects (53 SNPs) and 1132 white subjects (63 SNPs). The most statistically significant SNPs in African American subjects (rs13113918) and white subjects (rs11723439) were in the latter half of the gene and explained 2.7 and 2.8% of the variation in serum uric acid, respectively. After adjustment for this SNP in African Americans, 0.9% of the variation in serum uric acid was explained by an SNP (rs1568318) in the first half of the gene. Unexpectedly, SLC2A9 gene variants had stronger associations with serum uric acid than with fractional excretion of urate.
Conclusions. These findings support two different loci by which SLC2A9 variants affect uric acid levels in African Americans and suggest SLC2A9 variants affect serum uric acid level via renal and extrarenal clearance.
Uric acid; Fractional excretion of urate; SLC2A9; Race; Genetic epidemiology
Methyl groups are important for numerous cellular functions such as DNA methylation, phosphatidylcholine synthesis, and protein synthesis. The methyl group can directly be delivered by dietary methyl donors, including methionine, folate, betaine, and choline. The liver and the muscles appear to be the major organs for methyl group metabolism. Choline can be synthesized from phosphatidylcholine via the cytidine-diphosphate (CDP) pathway. Low dietary choline loweres methionine formation and causes a marked increase in S-adenosylmethionine utilization in the liver. The link between choline, betaine, and energy metabolism in humans indicates novel functions for these nutrients. This function appears to goes beyond the role of the nutrients in gene methylation and epigenetic control. Studies that simulated methyl-deficient diets reported disturbances in energy metabolism and protein synthesis in the liver, fatty liver, or muscle disorders. Changes in plasma concentrations of total homocysteine (tHcy) reflect one aspect of the metabolic consequences of methyl group deficiency or nutrient supplementations. Folic acid supplementation spares betaine as a methyl donor. Betaine is a significant determinant of plasma tHcy, particularly in case of folate deficiency, methionine load, or alcohol consumption. Betaine supplementation has a lowering effect on post-methionine load tHcy. Hypomethylation and tHcy elevation can be attenuated when choline or betaine is available.
folate; betaine; choline; methyl; energy; lipids
Elevated concentrations of homocysteine in blood may be an independent risk factor for the development of atherosclerosis. Elevated homocysteine concentrations can be caused by decreased methylation of homocysteine to form methionine, as occurs in folate deficiency. A parallel pathway exists for methylation of homocysteine, in which choline, by way of betaine, is the methyl donor.
Our goal was to determine whether choline deficiency results in a decreased capacity to methylate homocysteine.
C57BL/6J mice were fed diets containing 0, 10, or 35 mmol choline/kg diet for 3 wk. We then administered an oral methionine load to the animals and measured plasma homocysteine concentrations. Also, in a pilot study, we examined 8 men who were fed a diet providing 550 mg choline/d per 70 kg body weight for 10 d, followed by a diet providing almost no choline, until the subjects were clinically judged to be choline deficient or for ≤42 d. A methionine load was administered at the end of each dietary phase.
Two hours after the methionine load, choline-deficient mice had plasma homocysteine concentrations twice those of cholinefed mice. Four hours after the methionine load, clinically choline-depleted men had plasma homocysteine concentrations that were 35% greater than those in men not choline depleted.
These results suggest that choline, like folate, plays an important role in the metabolism of homocysteine in humans and that response to a methionine load may be useful when assessing choline nutriture.
Choline deficiency; methionine load; homocysteine; mice; humans
Homocysteine is involved in a one-carbon transfer reaction, which is important for DNA synthesis and methylation. High level of plasma homocysteine, biochemical marker of folate status, is known to be a risk factor for cancer. However, it is inconclusive as to whether plasma homocysteine concentration can predict colorectal adenoma. We conducted a case-control study to determine whether hyperhomocysteinemia is a risk factor for adenoma. Data from 1,039 subjects who underwent a colonoscopy and plasma homocysteine concentration determination during health examinations at single center over a two-year period were analyzed. The subjects were classified into two groups (422 adenoma and 617 controls). Subjects defined as having advanced adenomas were those with more than three adenomas, over 1 cm in size, high grade dysplasia, or villous components. Male, old age, high body mass index, low high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, smoking, fasting glucose, and past history of colon polyps were significantly associated with adenoma according to multiple logistic regression. According to subgroup analysis by gender, plasma homocysteine concentration was not associated with adenoma in males; however, a high plasma homocysteine concentration significantly increased the risk of adenoma as well as advanced adenoma in females. Hyperhomocysteinemia is a risk factor for colorectal adenoma in women.
risk factors; homocysteine; adenoma
Gene promoter hypermethylation is now regarded as a promising biomarker for the risk and progression of lung cancer. The one-carbon metabolism pathway is postulated to affect deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) methylation because it is responsible for the generation of S-adenosylmethionine (SAM), the methyl donor for cellular methylation reactions. This study investigated the association of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in six one-carbon metabolism-related genes with promoter hypermethylation in sputum DNA from non-Hispanic white smokers in the Lovelace Smokers Cohort (LSC) (n = 907). Logistic regression was used to assess the association of SNPs with hypermethylation using a high/low methylation cutoff. SNPs in the cystathionine beta synthase (CBS) and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate-homocysteine methyltransferase reductase (MTRR) genes were significantly associated with high methylation in males [CBS rs2850146 (-8283G > C),
OR = 4.9; 95% CI: 1.98, 12.2, P = 0.0006] and low methylation in females [MTRR rs3776467 (7068A > G), OR = 0.57, 95% CI: 0.42, 0.77, P = 0.0003]. The variant allele of rs2850146 was associated with reduced gene expression and increased plasma homocysteine (Hcy) concentrations. Three plasma metabolites, Hcy, methionine and dimethylglycine, were associated with increased risk for gene methylation. These studies suggest that SNPs in CBS and MTRR have sex-specific associations with aberrant methylation in the lung epithelium of smokers that could be mediated by the affected one-carbon metabolism and transsulfuration in the cells.
Abbreviations:CBScystathionine beta synthaseDNAdeoxyribonucleic acidHBEChuman bronchial epithelial cellHcyhomocysteineLD, linkage disequilibrium; LSClovelace Smokers CohortMAFminor allele frequencyMTHFRmethylenetetrahydrofolate reductaseMTRRmethyltransferase reductaseSNPsingle nucleotide polymorphismsSAHS-adenosylhomocysteineSAMS-adenosylmethionine
Folate deficiency is implicated in human colon cancer. The effects of feeding rats a folate deficient diet for 24 weeks on DNA damage (8-oxo-7,8-dihydroguanine), DNA repair (MGMT and OGG-1 activity) and epigenetic parameters (genome-wide cytosine methylation and indices of cellular methylation status) were investigated. Relative to control diet, the folate-deficient diet resulted in significantly reduced levels of serum (approx 80%; P<0.0001), whole blood (approx 40%; P<0.0001) and tissue folate levels (between 25-60% depending on the tissue sampled; P<0.05), increased plasma total homocysteine (approx. 35%; P<0.05) and decreased S-adenosylmethionine to S-adenosylhomocysteine concentrations (SAM:SAH, approx. 11%; P<0.05). There was no significant change in the levels of 5-methyldeoxycytidine in liver or colon DNA nor in the activity of liver DNA cytosine methyltransferase. However there was a significant increases in 8-oxo-7,8-dihydroguanine (P<0.001) in lymphocyte DNA and in levels of the DNA repair proteins OGG1 (approx. 27%; P<0.03) and MGMT (approx. 25%;P<0.003) in liver, but not in colon. This may reflect the ability of the liver, but not the colon, to upregulate DNA repair enzymes in response either to elevated DNA damage or an imbalance in the nucleotide precursor pool. These results demonstrate that folate deficiency can significantly modulate DNA damage and DNA repair providing mechanisms by which it plays a role in the aetiology of human cancer. We speculate that the inability of colon tissue to respond to folate deficiency occurs in humans and may increase the potential for malignant transformation.
folic acid deficiency in rat; DNA repair; MGMT; 8-oxoguanine-DNA glycosylase; DNA methylation
Background: The enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) catalyses the formation of folate intermediates that are vital to methylation reactions. A polymorphic variant (TT) has been linked to reduced levels of plasma folate, aberrant DNA methylation in leucocytes, and increased risk of colorectal cancer (CRC) under conditions of low folate intake. The cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS) enzyme reduces homocysteine levels and thus may protect against CRC. The CBS gene has a variant, 844ins68, that has been linked with increased activity. These variants may be involved in the development of the subgroup of CRC displaying aberrant DNA methylation and frequently associated with microsatellite instability (MSI).
Aim: To investigate the frequencies of the TT and 844ins68 genotypes in CRC patients with MSI+ tumours compared with those with MSI− tumours and a control population.
Subjects: Patients with CRC (n=501) and healthy control subjects (n=1207) were studied. CRC cases were classified as MSI+ (n=75) or MSI− (n=426) based on deletions within the BAT-26 mononucleotide repeat.
Methods: Subjects were genotyped for MTHFR using polymerase chain reaction-single strand conformation polymorphism (PCR-SSCP) and PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) techniques, and for CBS using PCR.
Results: The MTHFR TT genotype was more frequent in older CRC patients (≥70 y) compared with equivalent aged controls (p=0.03), was associated with a significantly later age of diagnosis in patients with proximal colon tumours (p=0.02), and was almost twice as frequent in MSI+ than in MSI− tumours (p=0.05). Compared with normal controls, the 844ins68 variant of CBS was less frequent in patients with proximal tumours (p=0.02).
Conclusions: The TT genotype of MTHFR is associated with an increased risk of CRC in older populations, possibly due to age related disturbances in folate metabolism. The TT genotype appears to predispose to CRC that is MSI+. This may reflect the involvement of aberrant DNA methylation frequently associated with MSI+. The 844ins68 CBS polymorphism may protect against proximal tumours.
colorectal cancer; folate; DNA methylation; methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase; cystathionine beta-synthase
Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) converts 5,10-methylene tetrahydrofolate to 5-methyl tetrahydrofolate and affects the activity of cellular cycles participating in nucleotide synthesis, DNA repair, genome stability, maintenance of methyl pool, and gene regulation. Genetically compromised MTHFR activity has been suggested to affect male fertility. The objective of the present study was to find the impact on infertility risk of c.203G>A, c.1298A>C, and c.1793G>A polymorphisms in the MTHFR gene.
PCR-RFLP and DNA sequencing were used to genotype the common SNPs in the MTHFR gene in 630 infertile and 250 fertile males. Chi-square test was applied for statistical comparison of genotype data. Linkage disequilibrium between the SNPs and the frequency of common haplotypes were assessed using Haploview software. Biochemical levels of total homocysteine (tHcy) and folic acid were measured. Meta-analysis on c.1298A>C polymorphism was performed using data from ten studies, comprising 2734 cases and 2737 controls.
c.203G>A and c.1298A>C were found to be unrelated to infertility risk. c.1793G>A was protective against infertility (P = 0.0008). c.677C>T and c.1793G>A were in significant LD (D’ = 0.9). Folic acid and tHcy level did not correlate with male infertility. Pooled estimate on c.1298A>C data from all published studies including our data showed no association of this polymorphism with male infertility (Odds ratio = 1.035, P = 0.56), azoospermia (Odds ratio = 0.97, P = 0.74), or oligoasthenoteratozoospermia (Odds ratio = 0.92, p = 0.29). Eight haplotypes with more than 1% frequency were detected, of which CCGA was protective against infertility (p = 0.02), but the significance of the latter was not seen after applying Bonferroni correction.
Among MTHFR polymorphisms, c.203G>A and c.1298A>C do not affect infertility risk and c.1793G>A is protective against infertility. Haplotype analysis suggested that risk factors on the MTHFR locus do not extend too long on the DNA string.
Chronic exposure to arsenic is occurring throughout South and East Asia due to groundwater contamination of well water. Variability in susceptibility to arsenic toxicity may be related to nutritional status. Arsenic is methylated to monomethylarsonic acid (MMA) and dimethylarsinic acid (DMA) via one-carbon metabolism, a biochemical pathway that is dependent on folate. The majority of one-carbon metabolism methylation reactions are devoted to biosynthesis of creatine, the precursor of creatinine. Our objectives of this cross-sectional study were to characterize the relationships among folate, cobalamin, homocysteine, and arsenic metabolism in Bangladeshi adults. Water arsenic, urinary arsenic, urinary creatinine, plasma folate, cobalamin, and homocysteine were assessed in 1,650 adults; urinary arsenic metabolites were analyzed for a subset of 300 individuals. The percentage of DMA in urine was positively associated with plasma folate (r = 0.14, p = 0.02) and negatively associated with total homocysteine (tHcys; r = −0.14, p = 0.01). Conversely, percent MMA was negatively associated with folate (r = −0.12, p = 0.04) and positively associated with tHcys (r = 0.21, p = 0.0002); percent inorganic arsenic (InAs) was negatively associated with folate (r = −0.12, p = 0.03). Urinary creatinine was positively correlated with percent DMA (r = 0.40 for males, p < 0.0001; 0.25 for females, p = 0.001), and with percent InAs (r = −0.45 for males, p < 0.0001; −0.20 for females, p = 0.01). Collectively, these data suggest that folate, tHcys, and other factors involved in one-carbon metabolism influence arsenic methylation. This may be particularly relevant in Bangladesh, where the prevalence of hyperhomocysteinemia is extremely high.
arsenic; arsenicosis; Bangladesh; creatinine; dimethylarsinic acid; folate; homocysteine; hyperhomocysteinemia; micronutrient deficiency; monomethylarsonic acid; one-carbon metabolism; S-adenosylmethionine; vitamin B12; well water
Background and aims: A low dietary folate intake can cause genomic DNA hypomethylation and may increase the risk of colorectal neoplasia. The hypothesis that folic acid supplementation increases DNA methylation in leucocytes and colorectal mucosa was tested in 31 patients with histologically confirmed colorectal adenoma using a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled, parallel design.
Methods: Subjects were randomised to receive either 400 μg/day folic acid supplement (n = 15) or placebo (n = 16) for 10 weeks. Genomic DNA methylation, serum and erythrocyte folate, and plasma homocysteine concentrations were measured at baseline and post intervention.
Results: Folic acid supplementation increased serum and erythrocyte folate concentrations by 81% (95% confidence interval (CI) 57–104%; p<0.001 v placebo) and 57% (95% CI 40–74%; p<0.001 v placebo), respectively, and decreased plasma homocysteine concentration by 12% (95% CI 4–20%; p = 0.01 v placebo). Folic acid supplementation resulted in increases in DNA methylation of 31% (95% CI 16–47%; p = 0.05 v placebo) in leucocytes and 25% (95% CI 11–39%; p = 0.09 v placebo) in colonic mucosa.
Conclusions: These results suggest that DNA hypomethylation can be reversed by physiological intakes of folic acid.
folic acid; DNA methylation; colorectal adenoma; intervention study