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Clin Chem Lab Med. 2013 Mar 1;51(3):523-34. doi: 10.1515/cclm-2012-0618.

The 'golden age' of DNA methylation in neurodegenerative diseases.

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Department of Psychology, Section of Neuroscience, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.


DNA methylation reactions are regulated, in the first instance, by enzymes and the intermediates that constitute the 'so called' one-carbon metabolism. This is a complex biochemical pathway, also known as the homocysteine cycle, regulated by the presence of B vitamins (folate, B6, B12) and choline, among other metabolites. One of the intermediates of this metabolism is S-adenosylmethionine, which represent the methyl donor in all the DNA methyltransferase reactions in eukaryotes. The one-carbon metabolism therefore produces the substrate necessary for the transferring of a methyl group on the cytosine residues of DNA; S-adenosylmethionine also regulates the activity of the enzymes that catalyze this reaction, namely the DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs). Alterations of this metabolic cycle can therefore be responsible for aberrant DNA methylation processes possibly leading to several human diseases. As a matter of fact, increasing evidences indicate that a number of human diseases with multifactorial origin may have an epigenetic basis. This is also due to the great technical advances in the field of epigenetic research. Among the human diseases associated with epigenetic factors, aging-related and neurodegenerative diseases are probably the object of most intense research. This review will present the main evidences linking several human diseases to DNA methylation, with particular focus on neurodegenerative diseases, together with a short description of the state-of-the-art of methylation assays.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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