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Am J Clin Nutr. 1992 Jan;55(1):131-8.

The pathogenesis of homocysteinemia: interruption of the coordinate regulation by S-adenosylmethionine of the remethylation and transsulfuration of homocysteine.

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  • 1Vitamin Bioavailability Laboratory, USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111.


A unified, biochemical hypothesis is proposed to explain the pathogenesis of homocysteinemia. This hypothesis is based on the existence of coordinate regulation by S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) of the partitioning of homocysteine between de novo methionine synthesis and catabolism through cystathionine synthesis. This coordination, which serves to modulate the cellular concentration of homocysteine based on the requirements for methionine, is impaired in homocysteinemia. This hypothesis is evaluated in the context of the conditions known to be associated with homocysteinemia, including enzymatic defects and vitamin deficiencies. The novelty of the hypothesis is the assertion that impairment of one homocysteine metabolic pathway must lead to the impairment of the other homocysteine metabolic pathway to cause homocysteinemia. This extends the simplistic view that a block of only one of the pathways is sufficient to cause homocysteinemia.

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