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Metabolism. 2002 Aug;51(8):981-8.

Elevated plasma total homocysteine in severe methionine adenosyltransferase I/III deficiency.

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Department of Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO 80262, USA.


Abnormal elevation of plasma methionine may result from several different genetic abnormalities, including deficiency of cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS) or of the isoenzymes of methionine adenosyltransferase (MAT) I and III expressed solely in nonfetal liver (MAT I/III deficiency). Classically, these conditions have been distinguished most readily by the presence or absence, respectively, of elevated plasma free homocystine, detected by amino acid chromatography in the former condition, but absent in the latter. During the present work, we have assayed methionine, S-adenosylmethionine, S-adenosylhomocysteine, total homocysteine (tHcy), cystathionine, N-methylglycine (sarcosine), and total cysteine (tCys) in groups of both MAT I/III- and CBS-deficient patients to provide more evidence as to their metabolite patterns. Unexpectedly, we found that MAT I/III-deficient patients with the most markedly elevated levels of plasma methionine also had elevations of plasma tHcy and often mildly elevated plasma cystathionine. Evidence is presented that methionine does not inhibit cystathionine beta-synthase, but does inhibit cystathionine gamma-lyase. Mechanisms that may possibly underlie the elevations of plasma tHcy and cystathionine are discussed. The combination of elevated methionine plus elevated tHcy may lead to the mistaken conclusion that an MAT I/III-deficient patient is instead CBS-deficient. Less than optimal management is then a real possibility. Measurements of plasma cystathionine, S-adenosylmethionine, and sarcosine should permit ready distinction between the 2 conditions in question, as well as be useful in several other situations involving abnormalities of methionine and/or homocysteine derivatives.

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