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J Nutr. 2008 Feb;138(2):311-5.

Plasma S-adenosylhomocysteine is a better biomarker of atherosclerosis than homocysteine in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice fed high dietary methionine.

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Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, Sun Yat-sen University (Northern Campus), Guangzhou 510080, PR China.


Homocysteine (Hcy) and S-adenosylhomocysteine (AdoHcy) are critical intermediates of methionine metabolism. To investigate which, if either, of these compounds is more closely related to atherosclerosis, we fed 5 groups of apolipoprotein E (apoE)-deficient mice different diets for 8 wk to induce changes in their plasma Hcy and AdoHcy concentrations. These included an AIN-93G control diet (C), this C diet supplemented with methionine (M), the M diet deficient in folates, vitamin B-6, and vitamin B-12 (M-V), this M diet supplemented with these B vitamins (M+V), and a C diet deficient in B vitamins (C-V). Compared with controls, mice fed the C-V diet had a moderate elevation in their plasma total Hcy (tHcy) levels; however, their plasma AdoHcy concentration and atherosclerotic lesion areas were not different. In contrast, the mice fed the M+V diet had larger atherosclerotic lesion areas and elevated plasma AdoHcy concentrations but their plasma tHcy concentration did not differ from that of the group C mice. The plasma AdoHcy concentration and aortic sinus lesion areas were positively correlated (r = 0.866; P < 0.001). We observed a negative correlation between the plasma AdoHcy concentration and both the DNA methyltransferase activity (r = -0.792; P < 0.001) and global DNA methylation status (r = -0.824; P < 0.001) in the aortic tissue. Hence, our study suggests that plasma AdoHcy is a better biomarker of atherosclerosis than Hcy and may accelerate the development of atherosclerotic lesions in apoE-deficient mice that have been fed a high methionine diet. The mechanisms underlying this effect may be related to the AdoHcy-mediated inhibition of DNA methylation in the aortic tissue.

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