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1.  Constitutive induction of pro-inflammatory and chemotactic cytokines in cystathionine beta-synthase deficient homocystinuria 
Molecular genetics and metabolism  2011;103(4):330-337.
Cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS) deficient homocystinuria (HCU) is an inherited metabolic defect that if untreated, typically results in cognitive impairment, connective tissue disturbances, atherosclerosis and thromboembolic disease. In recent years, chronic inappropriate expression of the inflammatory response has emerged as a major driving force of both thrombosis and atherosclerotic lesion development. We report here a characterization of the abnormalities in cytokine expression induced in both a mouse model of HCU and human subjects with the disease in the presence and absence of homocysteine lowering therapy. HCU mice exhibited highly significant induction of the pro-inflammatory cytokines Il-1alpha, Il-1beta and TNF-alpha. Similarly, in untreated/poorly compliant human subjects with HCU we observed constitutive induction of multiple pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1alpha, IL-6, TNF-alpha, Il-17 and IL-12(p70)) and chemotactic chemokines (fractalkine, MIP-1alpha and MIP-1beta) compared to normal controls. These HCU patients also exhibited significant induction of IL-9, TGF-alpha and G-CSF. The expression levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines were unaffected in both HCU mice and human subjects with the disease. In the human subjects, homocysteine lowering therapy was associated with either normalization or significant reduction of all of the pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines investigated. We conclude that HCU is a disease of chronic inflammation and that aberrant cytokine expression has the potential to contribute to multiple aspects of pathogenesis. Our findings indicate that anti-inflammatory strategies could serve as a useful adjuvant therapy for this disease.
PMCID: PMC4141465  PMID: 21601502
Cystathionine beta-synthase; Cytokine; Homocystinuria; Homocysteine; Interleukin-1; Tumor necrosis factor alpha
2.  The Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase Polymorphism (MTHFR c.677C > T) and Elevated Plasma Homocysteine Levels in a U.S. Pediatric Population with Incident Thromboembolism 
Thrombosis research  2013;132(2):170-174.
Elevated plasma homocysteine (tHcy) and the MTHFR c.677C > T variant have been postulated to increase the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE), although mechanisms and implications to pediatrics remain incompletely understood. The objectives of this study were to determine the prevalences of elevated tHcy and MTHFR variant in a pediatric population with VTE or arterial ischemic stroke (AIS), and to determine associations with thrombus outcomes.
Study Design
Subjects were enrolled in an institution-based prospective cohort of children with VTE or AIS. Inclusion criteria consisted of objectively confirmed thrombus, ≤21 years at diagnosis, tHcy measured and MTHFR c.677C > T mutation analysis. Clinical and laboratory data were collected. Frequencies for elevated tHcy and MTHFR variant were compared with NHANES values for healthy US children and also between study groups (VTE vs AIS, provoked vs idiopathic) and by age.
The prevalences of hyperhomocysteinemia or MTHFR variant were not increased in comparison to NHANES. tHcy did not differ between those with wild-type MTHFR versus either c.677C > T heterozygotes or homozygotes. There was no association between tHcy or MTHFR variant and thrombus outcomes.
In this cohort of US children with VTE or AIS, neither the prevalence of hyperhomocysteinemia nor that of MTHFR variant was increased relative to reference values, and adverse thrombus outcomes were not definitively associated with either. While it is important to consider that milder forms of pyridoxine-responsive classical homocystinuria will be detected only by tHcy, we suggest that routine testing of MTHFR c.677C > T genotype as part of a thrombophilia evaluation in children with incident thromboembolismis not warranted until larger studies have been performed in order to establish or refute a link between MTHFR and adverse outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4115647  PMID: 23866722
MTHFR c.677C >T; Hyperhomocysteinemia; Venous thromboembolism; Arterial ischemic stroke; Children; Thrombophilia
3.  Profiles of Cognitive Functioning in a Population-Based Sample of Centenarians Using Factor Mixture Analysis 
Experimental aging research  2013;39(2):125-144.
Background/Study Context
The goal of the study was to identify and characterize latent profiles (clusters) of cognitive functioning in centenarians and the psychometric properties of cognitive measures within them.
Data were collected from cross-sectional, population-based sample of 244 centenarians (aged 98-108, 15.8% men, 20.5% African-American, 38.0% community-dwelling) from 44 counties in Northern Georgia participating in the Georgia Centenarian Study (2001-2009). Measures included the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Severe Impairment Battery (SIB), Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-III, Similarities sub-test (WAIS), Finger Tapping, Behavioral Dyscontrol Scale (BDS), Controlled Oral Word Association Test (COWAT), and Fuld Object Memory Evaluation (FOME). The Global Deterioration Rating Scale (GDRS) was used to independently evaluate criterion-related validity for distinguishing cognitively normal and impaired groups. Relevant covariates included directly assessed functional status for basic and instrumental activities of daily living (DAFS), race, gender, educational attainment, Geriatric Depression Scale Short Form (GDS), and vision and hearing problems.
Results suggest two distinct classes of cognitive performance in this centenarian sample. Approximately one-third of the centenarians show a pattern of markedly lower cognitive performance on most measures. Group membership is independently well-predicted (AUC=.83) by GDRS scores (sensitivity 67.7%, specificity 82.4%). Membership in the lower cognitive performance group was more likely for individuals who were older, African Americans, had more depressive symptoms, lower plasma folate, carriers of the APOE ε4 allele, facility residents, and individuals who died in the two years following interview.
In a population expected to have high prevalence of dementia, latent subtypes can be distinguished via factor mixture analysis that provide normative values for cognitive functioning. The present study allows estimates for normative cognitive performance in this age group.
PMCID: PMC3579538  PMID: 23421635
4.  Sex-specific association of sequence variants in CBS and MTRR with risk for promoter hypermethylation in the lung epithelium of smokers 
Carcinogenesis  2012;33(8):1542-1547.
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
PMCID: PMC3499054  PMID: 22665368
5.  Metabolic Profiling of Total Homocysteine and Related Compounds in Hyperhomocysteinemia: Utility and Limitations in Diagnosing the Cause of Puzzling Thrombophilia in a Family 
JIMD Reports  2013;11:149-163.
We describe a family illustrating the diagnostic difficulties occurring when pyridoxine-responsive cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS) deficiency presents with thrombotic disease without associated ocular, skeletal, or CNS abnormalities, a situation increasingly recognized. This family had several thromboembolic episodes in two generations with apparently inconstant elevations of plasma total homocysteine (tHcy). When taking (sometimes even low amounts) of pyridoxine, the affected family members had low-normal tHcy and normal values for cystathionine, methionine, and cysteine. Withdrawal of vitamin therapy was necessary before lower cystathionine, elevated methionine, and decreased cysteine became apparent, a pattern suggestive of CBS deficiency, leading to the finding that the affected members were each compound heterozygotes for CBS p.G307S and p.P49L. To assist more accurate diagnosis of adults presenting with thrombophilia found to have elevated tHcy, the patterns of methionine-related metabolites in CBS-deficient patients are compared in this article to those in patients with homocysteine remethylation defects, including inborn errors of folate or cobalamin metabolism, and untreated severe cobalamin or folate deficiency. Usually serum cystathionine is low in subjects with CBS deficiency and elevated in those with remethylation defects. S-Adenosylmethionine and S-adenosylhomocysteine are often markedly elevated in CBS deficiency when tHcy is above 100 umol/L. We conclude that there are likely other undiagnosed, highly B6-responsive adult patients with CBS deficiency, and that additional testing of cystathionine, total cysteine, methionine, and S-adenosylmethionine will be helpful in diagnosing them correctly and distinguishing CBS deficiency from remethylation defects.
PMCID: PMC3755560  PMID: 23733603
6.  Versatility in Corrinoid Salvaging and Remodeling Pathways Supports Corrinoid-Dependent Metabolism in Dehalococcoides mccartyi 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(21):7745-7752.
Corrinoids are cobalt-containing molecules that function as enzyme cofactors in a wide variety of organisms but are produced solely by a subset of prokaryotes. Specific corrinoids are identified by the structure of their axial ligands. The lower axial ligand of a corrinoid can be a benzimidazole, purine, or phenolic compound. Though it is known that many organisms obtain corrinoids from the environment, the variety of corrinoids that can serve as cofactors for any one organism is largely unstudied. Here, we examine the range of corrinoids that function as cofactors for corrinoid-dependent metabolism in Dehalococcoides mccartyi strain 195. Dehalococcoides bacteria play an important role in the bioremediation of chlorinated solvents in the environment because of their unique ability to convert the common groundwater contaminants perchloroethene and trichloroethene to the innocuous end product ethene. All isolated D. mccartyi strains require exogenous corrinoids such as vitamin B12 for growth. However, like many other corrinoid-dependent bacteria, none of the well-characterized D. mccartyi strains has been shown to be capable of synthesizing corrinoids de novo. In this study, we investigate the ability of D. mccartyi strain 195 to use specific corrinoids, as well as its ability to modify imported corrinoids to a functional form. We show that strain 195 can use only specific corrinoids containing benzimidazole lower ligands but is capable of remodeling other corrinoids by lower ligand replacement when provided a functional benzimidazole base. This study of corrinoid utilization and modification by D. mccartyi provides insight into the array of strategies that microorganisms employ in acquiring essential nutrients from the environment.
PMCID: PMC3485714  PMID: 22923412
7.  Maternal Diet Supplemented with Methyl-Donors Protects against Atherosclerosis in F1 ApoE−/− Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56253.
Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory condition of the arterial wall mediated by cells of both innate and adaptive immunity. T lymphocytes play an important role in orchestrating the pathogenic immune response involved in the acceleration of atherosclerosis. Previously, we have shown that a prenatal methyl-donor supplementation diet (MS), when fed to dams during pregnancy and lactation, decreased the T cell-mediated pro-inflammatory cytokine and chemokine response in F1 mice. In the current study, we report feeding Apolipoprotein E (ApoE−/−) deficient dams with the MS diet during pregnancy reduces atherosclerotic plaques in F1 mice that were fed high fat diet (HFD) after weaning. F1 mice from dams on the MS diet exhibited increased global T cell DNA methylation. T-cell chemokines and their receptors (in particular CCR2, CCR5, and CXCR3) play important roles in the inflammatory cell recruitment to vascular lesions. MS diet significantly reduced Ccr2 mRNA and protein expression in CD3+ T cells but not in CD11b+ monocytes in MS F1 mice relative to controls. F1 litter size, HFD consumption, body weight, and body fat were similar between control and MS diet groups. Moreover, serum thiol metabolite levels were similar between the two groups. However, MS diet is associated with significantly higher serum HDL and lower LDL+VLDL levels in comparison to F1 mice from dams on the control diet. Inflammatory cytokines (IL-17, TNF-α, IL-6) were also lower in MS F1 mice serum and conditioned media from T-cell culture. Altogether, these data suggest that the MS diet ameliorates development of atherosclerosis by inhibiting the T-cell Ccr2 expression, reducing inflammatory cytokines production and increasing serum HDL:LDL ratio.
PMCID: PMC3578836  PMID: 23437105
8.  Two patients with hepatic mtDNA depletion syndromes and marked elevations of S-adenosylmethionine and methionine 
Molecular Genetics and Metabolism  2011;105(2):228-236.
This paper reports studies of two patients proven by a variety of studies to have mitochondrial depletion syndromes due to mutations in either their MPV17 or DGUOK genes. Each was initially investigated metabolically because of plasma methionine concentrations as high as 15–21-fold above the upper limit of the reference range, then found also to have plasma levels of S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet) 4.4–8.6-fold above the upper limit of the reference range. Assays of S-adenosylhomocysteine, total homocysteine, cystathionine, sarcosine, and other relevant metabolites and studies of their gene encoding glycine N-methyltransferase produced evidence suggesting they had none of the known causes of elevated methionine with or without elevated AdoMet. Patient 1 grew slowly and intermittently, but was cognitively normal. At age 7 years he was found to have hepatocellular carcinoma, underwent a liver transplant and died of progressive liver and renal failure at age almost 9 years. Patient 2 had a clinical course typical of DGUOK deficiency and died at age 8 ½ months. Although each patient had liver abnormalities, evidence is presented that such abnormalities are very unlikely to explain their elevations of AdoMet or the extent of their hypermethioninemias. A working hypothesis is presented suggesting that with mitochondrial depletion the normal usage of AdoMet by mitochondria is impaired, AdoMet accumulates in the cytoplasm of affected cells poor in glycine N-methyltransferase activity, the accumulated AdoMet causes methionine to accumulate by inhibiting activity of methionine adenosyltransferase II, and that both AdoMet and methionine consequently leak abnormally into the plasma.
PMCID: PMC3264801  PMID: 22137549
mitochondria; depletion; methionine; S-adenosylmethionine; MPV17; DGUOK
9.  Prevalence and Predictors of Anemia in a Population-Based Study of Octogenarians and Centenarians in Georgia 
Anemia has been associated with increased physical and financial costs and occurs more frequently in older individuals. Therefore, the primary objectives of this study were to examine the prevalence and possible predictors of anemia in the very old.
Hemoglobin was used to identify those with anemia in a group of centenarians and near centenarians (98+, n = 185) and octogenarians (n = 69), who were recruited as part of the population-based multidisciplinary Georgia Centenarian Study. Blood markers, including ferritin, vitamin B12, red blood cell folate, methylmalonic acid, creatinine, and C-reactive protein, demographic variables, and medication and/or supplement usage were used to determine possible predictors of anemia.
The prevalence of anemia was 26.2% in octogenarians and 52.1% in centenarians. Low serum albumin (<3.6 g/dL) and decreased estimated glomerular filtration rate (<45 mL/min/m2) were predictors of anemia in centenarians.
Anemia is a major health issue, particularly as people age. Because of the high prevalence of anemia in older individuals, awareness of the predictors associated with anemia becomes increasingly important so as to reduce the negative consequences associated with it and allow for the identification of steps that can be taken to correct anemia, including managing chronic disease.
PMCID: PMC3260487  PMID: 21896502
Anemia; Centenarians; Renal function
S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) is the methyl donor for all methylation reactions and regulates the synthesis of glutathione (GSH), the main cellular antioxidant. Previous experimental studies suggested that SAM may benefit patients with established alcoholic liver diseases (ALD). The aim of this study was to determine the efficacy of SAM in treatment of ALD in a 24 week trial. The primary endpoints were changes in serum aminotransferase levels and liver histopathology scores, and the secondary endpoint was changes in serum levels of methionine metabolites.
We randomized 37 patients with ALD to receive 1.2 grams of SAM by mouth or placebo daily. Subjects were required to remain abstinent from alcohol drinking. A baseline liver biopsy was performed in 24 subjects and a post-treatment liver biopsy was performed in 14 subjects.
Fasting serum SAM levels were increased over timed intervals in the SAM treatment group. The entire cohort showed an overall improvement of AST, ALT, and bilirubin levels after 24 weeks of treatment but there were no differences between the treatment groups in any clinical or biochemical parameters nor any intra- or intergroup differences or changes in liver histopathology scores for steatosis, inflammation, fibrosis, and Mallory-Denk hyaline bodies.
Whereas abstinence improved liver function, twenty-four weeks of therapy with SAM was no more effective than placebo in the treatment of ALD.
PMCID: PMC3315189  PMID: 22044287
S-adenosylmethionine; SAM; alcoholic liver disease
11.  The Oldest Old: Red blood cell and plasma folate in African American and White Octogenarians and Centenarians in Georgia 
To determine the overall folate status of a population-based multi-ethnic sample of octogenarians and centenarians and the specific dietary, demographic and physiological factors associated with observed abnormalities.
Population-based multiethnic sample of adults aged 80 to 89 and 98 and above. Setting: Northern Georgia, USA
Northern Georgia, USA
Men and women aged 80 to 89 (octogenarians, n = 77) and 98 and older (centenarians, n = 198)
Wilcoxon rank sum tests, and Chi square and logistic regression analyses were used to examine associations of low and high folate status with hematological indicators and other variables of interest.
The prevalence of low red blood cell (RBC) folate was low overall, but tended to be higher in centenarians than in octogenarians (6.5% vs. 1.3%, p = 0.058; defined as RBC folate < 317 nmol/L). The risk of having lower RBC folate (< 25th vs. ≥25th percentile for RBC folate for 60yr+ in NHANES 1999–2000) was greater in association with vitamin B12 deficiency (OR = 5.36; 95%CI: 2.87–10.01), African American race (OR = 4.29; 95%CI: 2.08–8.83), and residence in a skilled nursing facility (OR = 3.25; 95%CI: 1.56–6.78) but was not influenced by age, gender, B-vitamin supplement use, high/low food score or presence of atrophic gastritis. Combined high plasma folate and low vitamin B12 status was present in some individuals (n=11), but was not associated with increased prevalence of anemia or cognitive impairment in this study.
Low RBC folate status (< 317 nmol/L) was rare in this post folic acid fortification sample of octogenarians and centenarians. RBC folate status (< 25th percentile) was strongly associated with 1) vitamin B12 deficiency, which has strong implications for vitamin treatment, and 2) with being African American, suggesting racial disparities exist even in the oldest old.
PMCID: PMC3233985  PMID: 22089222
Journal of hepatology  2010;53(3):551-557.
Background & Aims
Although abnormal hepatic methionine metabolism plays a central role in the pathogenesis of experimental alcoholic liver disease (ALD), its relationship to the risk and severity of clinical ALD is not known. The aim of this clinical study was to determine the relationship between serum levels of methionine metabolites in chronic alcoholics and the risk and pathological severity of ALD.
Serum levels of liver function biochemical markers, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folate, homocysteine, methionine, S-adenosylmethionine, S-adenosylhomocysteine, cystathionine, cysteine, α-aminobutyrate, glycine, serine, and dimethylglycine were measured in 40 ALD patients, of whom 24 had liver biopsies, 26 were active drinkers without liver disease, and 28 were healthy subjects.
Serum homocysteine was elevated in all alcoholics, whereas ALD patients had low vitamin B6 with elevated cystathionine and decreased α-aminobutyrate/cystathionine ratios, consistent with decreased activity of vitamin B6 dependent cystathionase. The α-aminobutyrate/cystathionine ratio predicted the presence of ALD, while cystathionine correlated with the stage of fibrosis in all ALD patients.
The predictive role of the α- aminobutyrate/cystathionine ratio for the presence of ALD and the correlation between cystathionine serum levels with the severity of fibrosis point to the importance of the homocysteine transsulfuration pathway in ALD and may have important diagnostic and therapeutic implications.
PMCID: PMC2923260  PMID: 20561703
alcohol; methionine; cystathionine; vitamin B6
13.  Serum Methionine Metabolites Are Risk Factors for Metastatic Prostate Cancer Progression 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e22486.
Clinical decision for primary treatment for prostate cancer is dictated by variables with insufficient specificity. Early detection of prostate cancer likely to develop rapid recurrence could support neo-adjuvant therapeutics and adjuvant options prior to frank biochemical recurrence. This study compared markers in serum and urine of patients with rapidly recurrent prostate cancer to recurrence-free patients after radical prostatectomy. Based on previous identification of urinary sarcosine as a metastatic marker, we tested whether methionine metabolites in urine and serum could serve as pre-surgical markers for aggressive disease.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Urine and serum samples (n = 54 and 58, respectively), collected at the time of prostatectomy were divided into subjects who developed biochemical recurrence within 2 years and those who remained recurrence-free after 5 years. Multiple methionine metabolites were measured in urine and serum by GC-MS. The role of serum metabolites and clinical variables (biopsy Gleason grade, clinical stage, serum prostate specific antigen [PSA]) on biochemical recurrence prediction were evaluated. Urinary sarcosine and cysteine levels were significantly higher (p = 0.03 and p = 0.007 respectively) in the recurrent group. However, in serum, concentrations of homocysteine (p = 0.003), cystathionine (p = 0.007) and cysteine (p<0.001) were more abundant in the recurrent population. The inclusion of serum cysteine to a model with PSA and biopsy Gleason grade improved prediction over the clinical variables alone (p<0.001).
Higher serum homocysteine, cystathionine, and cysteine concentrations independently predicted risk of early biochemical recurrence and aggressiveness of disease in a nested case control study. The methionine metabolites further supplemented known clinical variables to provide superior sensitivity and specificity in multivariable prediction models for rapid biochemical recurrence following prostatectomy.
PMCID: PMC3154200  PMID: 21853037
14.  Biomarkers of folate status in NHANES: a roundtable summary123456 
A roundtable to discuss the measurement of folate status biomarkers in NHANES took place in July 2010. NHANES has measured serum folate since 1974 and red blood cell (RBC) folate since 1978 with the use of several different measurement procedures. Data on serum 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5MTHF) and folic acid (FA) concentrations in persons aged ≥60 y are available in NHANES 1999–2002. The roundtable reviewed data that showed that folate concentrations from the Bio-Rad Quantaphase II procedure (Bio-Rad Laboratories, Hercules, CA; used in NHANES 1991–1994 and NHANES 1999–2006) were, on average, 29% lower for serum and 45% lower for RBC than were those from the microbiological assay (MA), which was used in NHANES 2007–2010. Roundtable experts agreed that these differences required a data adjustment for time-trend analyses. The roundtable reviewed the possible use of an isotope-dilution liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) measurement procedure for future NHANES and agreed that the close agreement between the MA and LC-MS/MS results for serum folate supported conversion to the LC-MS/MS procedure. However, for RBC folate, the MA gave 25% higher concentrations than did the LC-MS/MS procedure. The roundtable agreed that the use of the LC-MS/MS procedure to measure RBC folate is premature at this time. The roundtable reviewed the reference materials available or under development at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and recognized the challenges related to, and the scientific need for, these materials. They noted the need for a commutability study for the available reference materials for serum 5MTHF and FA.
PMCID: PMC3127517  PMID: 21593502
15.  Biomarkers of vitamin B-12 status in NHANES: a roundtable summary123456 
A roundtable to discuss the measurement of vitamin B-12 (cobalamin) status biomarkers in NHANES took place in July 2010. NHANES stopped measuring vitamin B-12–related biomarkers after 2006. The roundtable reviewed 3 biomarkers of vitamin B-12 status used in past NHANES—serum vitamin B-12, methylmalonic acid (MMA), and total homocysteine (tHcy)—and discussed the potential utility of measuring holotranscobalamin (holoTC) for future NHANES. The roundtable focused on public health considerations and the quality of the measurement procedures and reference methods and materials that past NHANES used or that are available for future NHANES. Roundtable members supported reinstating vitamin B-12 status measures in NHANES. They noted evolving concerns and uncertainties regarding whether subclinical (mild, asymptomatic) vitamin B-12 deficiency is a public health concern. They identified the need for evidence from clinical trials to address causal relations between subclinical vitamin B-12 deficiency and adverse health outcomes as well as appropriate cutoffs for interpreting vitamin B-12–related biomarkers. They agreed that problems with sensitivity and specificity of individual biomarkers underscore the need for including at least one biomarker of circulating vitamin B-12 (serum vitamin B-12 or holoTC) and one functional biomarker (MMA or tHcy) in NHANES. The inclusion of both serum vitamin B-12 and plasma MMA, which have been associated with cognitive dysfunction and anemia in NHANES and in other population-based studies, was preferable to provide continuity with past NHANES. Reliable measurement procedures are available, and National Institute of Standards and Technology reference materials are available or in development for serum vitamin B-12 and MMA.
PMCID: PMC3127527  PMID: 21593512
16.  α-Lipoic Acid Induced Elevated S-adenosylhomocysteine and Depleted S-adenosylmethionine 
Free radical biology & medicine  2009;47(8):1147-1153.
Lipoic Acid is a disulfhydryl-containing compound used in clinical medicine and in experimental models as an antioxidant. We developed a stable isotope dilution capillary gas chromatography/mass spectrometry assay for lipoic acid. We assayed a panel of the metabolites of transmethylation and transsulfuration 30 minutes after injecting lipoic acid 100 mg/kg in a rat model. Lipoic acid values rose 1000-fold in serum and 10-fold in liver. A methylated metabolite of lipoic acid was also detected but not quantitated. Lipoic acid injection caused a massive increase in serum S-adenosylhomocysteine and marked depletion of liver S-adenosylmethionine. Serum total cysteine was depleted but liver cysteine and glutathione were maintained. Serum total homocysteine doubled with increases also in cystathionine, N, N-dimethylglycine and alpha-aminobutyric acid. In contrast, after injection of 2-mercaptoethanesulfonic acid (MESNA), serum total cysteine and homocysteine were markedly depleted and there were no effects on serum S-adenosylmethionine or S-adenosylhomocysteine. We conclude that large doses of lipoic acid both displace sulfhydryls from binding sites resulting in depletion of serum cysteine but also pose a methylation burden with severe depletion of liver S-adenosylmethionine and massive release of S-adenosylhomocysteine. These changes may have previously unrecognized deleterious effects that should be investigated in both human disease and experimental models.
PMCID: PMC2782850  PMID: 19616616
homocysteine; methionine; cysteine; transmethylation; transsulfuration
17.  A novel transgenic mouse model of CBS-deficient homocystinuria does not incur hepatic steatosis or fibrosis and exhibits a hypercoagulative phenotype that is ameliorated by betaine treatment 
Molecular Genetics and Metabolism  2010;101(2-3):153-162.
Cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS) catalyzes the condensation of homocysteine (Hcy) and serine to cystathionine, which is then hydrolyzed to cysteine by cystathionine gamma-lyase. Inactivation of CBS results in CBS-deficient homocystinuria more commonly referred to as classical homocystinuria, which, if untreated, results in mental retardation, thromboembolic complications, and a range of connective tissue disorders. The molecular mechanisms that underlie the pathology of this disease are poorly understood. We report here the generation of a new mouse model of classical homocystinuria in which the mouse cbs gene is inactivated and that exhibits low-level expression of the human CBS transgene under the control of the human CBS promoter. This mouse model, designated “human only” (HO), exhibits severe elevations in both plasma and tissue levels of Hcy, methionine, S-adenosylmethionine, and S-adenosylhomocysteine and a concomitant decrease in plasma and hepatic levels of cysteine. HO mice exhibit mild hepatopathy but, in contrast to previous models of classical homocystinuria, do not incur hepatic steatosis, fibrosis, or neonatal death with approximately 90% of HO mice living for at least 6 months. Tail bleeding determinations indicate that HO mice are in a hypercoagulative state that is significantly ameliorated by betaine treatment in a manner that recapitulates the disease as it occurs in humans. Our findings indicate that this mouse model will be a valuable tool in the study of pathogenesis in classical homocystinuria and the rational design of novel treatments.
PMCID: PMC2954364  PMID: 20638879
BHMT, betaine-homocysteine S-methyltransferase; HCU, classical homocystinuria; CBS, cystathionine beta-synthase; CGL, cystathionine gamma-lyase; Hcy, homocysteine; MTHFR, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase; AdoMet, S-adenosylmethionine; AdoHcy, S-adenosylhomocysteine; tHcy, total homocysteine; Betaine; Coagulation; Cystathionine; Cystathionine beta-synthase; Cystathionine gamma-lyase; Homocystinuria; Homocysteine
18.  Cystathionine beta-synthase null homocystinuric mice fail to exhibit altered hemostasis or lowering of plasma homocysteine in response to betaine treatment 
Molecular Genetics and Metabolism  2010;101(2-3):163-171.
Cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS) deficient homocystinuria is an inherited metabolic defect that if untreated typically results in mental retardation, thromboembolism and a range of connective tissue disturbances. A knockout mouse model has previously been used to investigate pathogenic mechanisms in classical homocystinuria (Watanabe et al., PNAS 92 (1995) 1585–1589). This mouse model exhibits a semi-lethal phenotype and the majority of mice do not survive the early neonatal period. We report here that the birth incidence of cbs (−/−) mice produced from heterozygous crosses is non-Mendelian and not significantly improved by treatment with either the Hcy lowering compound betaine or the cysteine donor N-acetylcysteine. Betaine treatment did improve survival of cbs (−/−) mice and restored fertility to female cbs (−/−) mice but did so without significantly lowering Hcy levels. Surviving cbs (−/−) mice failed to show any alteration in coagulation parameters compared to wild-type controls. Moribund cbs (−/−) mice exhibited severe liver injury and hepatic fibrosis while surviving cbs (−/−) mice although less severely affected, still exhibited a level of severe liver injury that is not found in the human disease. The hepatopathy observed in this model may offer an explanation for the failure of cbs (−/−) mice to respond to betaine or exhibit a hypercoagulative phenotype. We conclude that although this model provides useful data on the biochemical sequelae of classical homocystinuria, it does not successfully recapitulate a number of important features of the human disease and its use for studying mechanisms in homocystinuria should be treated with caution as the hepatopathy produces changes which could influence the results.
PMCID: PMC2954358  PMID: 20638882
ALT, Alanine aminotransferase; aPTT, activated partial thromboplastin time; BHMT, betaine-homocysteine S-methyltransferase; HCU, classical homocystinuria; CBS, cystathionine beta-synthase; CGL, cystathionine gamma-lyase; DMG, dimethylglycine; ER, endoplasmic reticulum; fHcy, free homocysteine; Hcy, homocysteine; LDH, lactate dehydrogenase; MG, methylglycine; NAC, N-acetylcysteine; PT, prothrombin time; AdoMet, S-adenosylmethionine; AdoHcy, S-adenosylhomocysteine; tHcy, total homocysteine; Betaine; Coagulation; Cystathionine; Cystathionine beta-synthase; Cystathionine gamma-lyase; Homocystinuria; Homocysteine
19.  Cystathionine γ-lyase: clinical, metabolic, genetic, and structural studies 
Molecular genetics and metabolism  2009;97(4):250-259.
We report studies of six individuals with marked elevations of cystathionine in plasma and/or urine. Studies of CTH, the gene that encodes cystathionine γ-lyase, revealed the presence among these individuals of either homozygous or compound heterozygous forms of a novel large deletion, p.Gly57_Gln196del, two novel missense mutations, c.589C>T (p.Arg197Cys) and c.932C>T (p.Thr311Ile), and one previously reported alteration, c.200C>T (p.Thr67Ile). Another novel missense mutation, c.185G>T (p.Arg62His), was found in heterozygous form in three mildly hypercystathioninemic members of a Taiwanese family. In one severely hypercystathioninemic individual no CTH mutation was found. Brief clinical histories of the cystathioninemic/cystathioninuric patients are presented. Most of the novel mutations were expressed and the CTH activities of the mutant proteins determined. The crystal structure of the human enzyme, hCTH, and the evidence available as to the effects of the mutations in question, as well as those of the previously reported p.Gln240Glu, on protein structure, enzymatic activity, and responsiveness to vitamin B6 administration are discussed. Among healthy Czech controls, 9.3% were homozygous for CTH c.1208G>T (p.Ser403Ile), previously found homozygously in 7.5% of Canadians for whom plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) had been measured. Compared to wild-type homozygotes, among the 55 Czech c.1208G>T (p.Ser403Ile) homozygotes a greater level of plasma cystathionine was found only after methionine loading. Three of the four individuals homozygous or compound heterozygous for inactivating CTH mutations had mild plasma tHcy elevations, perhaps indicating a cause-and-effect relationship. The experience with the present patients provides no evidence that severe loss of CTH activity is accompanied by adverse clinical effects.
PMCID: PMC2752209  PMID: 19428278
20.  Identification and quantitation of cobalamin and cobalamin analogues in human feces 
Cobalamin (vitamin-B12) and cobalamin analogues are present in human feces, but a complete identification has not been established, and the amounts present have not been determined.
We aimed to develop a liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry method for cobalamin and cobalamin analogues and to identify and quantitiate the amounts present in human feces.
Fecal samples were obtained from 20 human subjects in good general health. The samples were analyzed for the presence and amounts of cobalamin and 12 cobalamin analogues that were synthesized with and without the incorporation of stable isotopes.
Cobalamin and 7 cobalamin analogues were identified and quantitated in human feces. The mean for the total amount present in 18 subjects whose daily intake was ≤ 25 ug cobalamin from vitamin supplements was 1309 ng cobalamin equivalents/g wet wt of feces. Cobalamin (1.4%) and cobinamide (1.8%) (an incomplete corrinoid) represented a small portion of the total amount. Six cobalamin analogues that contain a base other than the 5,6-dimethylbenzimidizidole in cobalamin were present. The bases and their mean amounts (in %) are 2-methyladenine (60.6%), p-cresol (16.3%), adenine (12.5%), 2-(methylthio)adenine (15.5%), 5-hydroxybenzimidazole (1.8%), and phenol (0.1%). One subject ingested 1 mg cobalamin/d and another ingested 2 mg cobalamin/d, and they appeared to convert most of the cobalamin to cobinamide and the 4 analogues that contain the bases – 2-methyladenine, p-cresol, adenine and 2-(methylthio)adenine.
Cobalamin analogues are present in human feces and account for > 98% of the total of cobalamin plus cobalamin analogues. A major portion of large amounts of ingested cobalamin appears to be converted to cobalamin analogues.
PMCID: PMC2900183  PMID: 18469256
Cobalamin; vitamin B12; cobalamin analogues; feces; liquid chromatography; mass spectrometry
21.  Propionyl-CoA and Adenosylcobalamin Metabolism in C. elegans : Evidence for a Role of Methylmalonyl-CoA Epimerase in Intermediary Metabolism 
Molecular genetics and metabolism  2006;89(1-2):64-73.
We have utilized Caenorhabditis elegans to study human methylmalonic acidemia. Using bioinformatics, a full complement of mammalian homologues for the conversion of propionyl-CoA to succinyl-CoA in the genome of C. elegans, including propionyl-CoA carboxylase subunits A and B (pcca-1, pccb-1), methylmalonic acidemia cobalamin A complementation group (mmaa-1), co(I)balamin adenosyltransferase (mmab-1), MMACHC (cblc-1), methylmalonyl-CoA epimerase (mce-1) and methylmalonyl-CoA mutase (mmcm-1) were identified. To verify predictions that the entire intracellular adenosylcobalamin metabolic pathway existed and was functional, the kinetic properties of the C. elegans mmcm-1 were examined. RNA interference against mmcm-1, mmab-1, mmaa-1 in the presence of propionic acid revealed a chemical phenotype of increased methylmalonic acid; deletion mutants of mmcm-1, mmab-1 and mce-1 displayed reduced 1-[14C]-propionate incorporation into macromolecules. The mutants produced increased amounts of methylmalonic acid in the culture medium, proving that a functional block in the pathway caused metabolite accumulation. Lentiviral delivery of the C. elegans mmcm-1 into fibroblasts derived from a patient with muto class methylmalonic acidemia could partially restore propionate flux. The C. elegans mce-1 deletion mutant demonstrates for the first time that a lesion at the racemase step of methylmalonyl-CoA metabolism can functionally impair flux through the methylmalonyl-CoA mutase pathway and suggests that malfunction of MCEE may cause methylmalonic acidemia in humans. The C. elegans system we describe represents the first lower metazoan model organism of mammalian propionate spectrum disorders and demonstrates that mass spectrometry can be employed to study a small molecule chemical phenotype in C. elegans RNAi and deletion mutants.
PMCID: PMC2761207  PMID: 16843692
propionate metabolism; methylmalonic acidemia; methylmalonyl-CoA epimerase; methylmalonyl-CoA mutase; cobalamin; C. elegans
22.  Life-threatening megaloblastic pancytopenia with normal mean cell volume: case series 
The mean red blood cell volume (MCV) is usually increased in severe megaloblastic anemia due to pernicious anemia. However, during one year in a university hospital, three patients with life-threatening pancytopenia and normal MCV were proven to have severe vitamin B12 deficiency. The red blood cell distribution width was markedly increased (three times normal) and led to review of the blood smear and recognition of megaloblastosis as well as prominent red cell fragmentation. These three cases illustrate that vitamin B12 status should be evaluated in cases of pancytopenia, independent of the MCV value.
PMCID: PMC2735269  PMID: 17967337
Vitamin B12; Pernicious anemia; Methylmalonic acid; Homocysteine
23.  Zinc, Gravida, Infection, and Iron, but Not Vitamin B-12 or Folate Status, Predict Hemoglobin during Pregnancy in Southern Ethiopia1,2 
The Journal of nutrition  2008;138(3):581-586.
The etiology of anemia during pregnancy in rural Southern Ethiopia is uncertain. Intakes of animal-source foods are low and infections and bacterial overgrowth probably coexist. We therefore measured the dietary intakes of a convenience sample of Sidama women in late pregnancy who consumed either maize (n = 68) or fermented enset (Enset ventricosum) (n = 31) as their major energy source. Blood samples were analyzed for a complete blood count, vitamin B-12 and folate status, plasma ferritin, retinol, zinc, albumin, and C-reactive protein (CRP). The role of infection and gravida was also examined. Dietary intakes were calculated from 1-d weighed records. No cellular animal products were consumed. Of the women, 29% had anemia, 13% had iron deficiency anemia, 33% had depleted iron stores, and 74 and 27% had low plasma zinc and retinol, respectively. Only 2% had low plasma folate (<6.8 nmol/L) and 23% had low plasma vitamin B-12 (<150 pmol/L), even though 62% had elevated plasma methylmalonic acid (MMA) (> 271 nmol/L). None had elevated plasma cystathionine or total homocysteine (tHcys). Women with enset-based diets had higher (P = 0.052) plasma vitamin B-12 concentration and lower (P < 0.05) cell volume, plasma cystathionine, and retinol than women consuming maize-based diets, but mean hemoglobin, plasma ferritin, MMA, tHcys, and folate did not differ. Plasma zinc, followed by CRP (≤5 mg/L), gravida (≤4), and plasma ferritin (≥12 μmg/L) status were major positive predictors of hemoglobin. Despite some early functional vitamin B-12 deficiency, there was no macrocytic anemia. Consumption of fermented enset may have increased vitamin B-12 levels in diet and plasma.
PMCID: PMC2440679  PMID: 18287370
24.  Sex and menopausal status influence human dietary requirements for the nutrient choline2 
Although humans require dietary choline for methyl donation, membrane function, and neurotransmission, choline can also be derived from the de novo synthesis of phosphatidylcholine, which is up-regulated by estrogen. A recommended Adequate Intake (AI) exists for choline; however, an Estimated Average Requirement has not been set because of a lack of sufficient human data.
The objective of the study was to evaluate the dietary requirements for choline in healthy men and women and to investigate the clinical sequelae of choline deficiency.
Fifty-seven adult subjects (26 men, 16 premenopausal women, 15 postmenopausal women) were fed a diet containing 550 mg choline · 70 kg−1 · d−1 for 10 d followed by <50 mg choline · 70 kg−1 · d−1 with or without a folic acid supplement (400 μg/d per randomization) for up to 42 d. Subjects who developed organ dysfunction during this diet had normal organ function restored after incremental amounts of choline were added back to the diet. Blood and urine were monitored for signs of toxicity and metabolite concentrations, and liver fat was assessed by using magnetic resonance imaging.
When deprived of dietary choline, 77% of men and 80% of postmenopausal women developed fatty liver or muscle damage, whereas only 44% of premenopausal women developed such signs of organ dysfunction. Moreover, 6 men developed these signs while consuming 550 mg choline · 70 kg−1 · d−1, the AI for choline. Folic acid supplementation did not alter the subjects’ response.
Subject characteristics (eg, menopausal status) modulated the dietary requirement for choline, and a daily intake at the current AI was not sufficient to prevent organ dysfunction in 19 of the subjects.
PMCID: PMC2435503  PMID: 17490963
Choline deficiency; phosphatidylcholine; fatty liver; creatine phosphokinase; muscle damage
25.  Elevated Serum S-Adenosylhomocysteine in Cobalamin Deficient Megaloblastic Anemia 
Impaired methylation due to accumulation of S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH) may contribute to the pathophysiology of cobalamin deficient anemia. We assayed serum S-adenosylmethionine (SAM), SAH, total homocysteine (tHcy), and methylmalonic acid (MMA) in 15 subjects with cobalamin deficient megaloblastic anemia and compared results to 19 subjects with anemia/pancytopenia due to other causes. Cobalamin deficient subjects had a median hematocrit of 20% and mean cell volume of 111.7 fL. The median serum cobalamin was 37 pg/mL, MMA 3030 nmol/L and tHcy 62.0 umol/L. SAH was elevated in 13 of 15 subjects (median value 42 nmol/L) and the median SAM was normal (103 nmol/L) but SAM/SAH ratio was low, 2.5. The SAH was higher and SAM/SAH ratio lower in cobalamin deficient subjects as compared to those with other anemias after excluding 4 patients with renal insufficiency. SAM concentrations were not low in cobalamin deficiency. Cobalamin injections corrected anemia, MMA, tHcy, SAM/SAH ratio and SAH. Some hematologic variables were inversely correlated with SAH and cobalamin but not tHcy or MMA. In conclusion, serum SAH is elevated in cobalamin deficient subjects with megaloblastic anemia and corrects with parenteral cobalamin therapy.
PMCID: PMC1974902  PMID: 17292722
homocysteine; methylmalonic acid; folate; vitamin B12

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