2012 Volume 58 Issue 2 Pages 69-77
The effect of betaine status on folate deficiency-induced hyperhomocysteinemia was investigated to determine whether folate deficiency impairs homocysteine removal not only by the methionine synthase (MS) pathway but also by the betaine-homocysteine S-methyltransferase (BHMT) pathway. For this purpose, we investigated the effect of dietary supplementation with betaine at a high level (1%) in rats fed a folate-deprived 10% casein diet (10C) and 20% casein diet (20C). We also investigated the effect of choline deprivation on folate deficiency-induced hyperhomocysteinemia in rats fed 20C. Supplementation of folate-deprived 10C and 20C with 1% betaine significantly suppressed folate deprivation-induced hyperhomocysteinemia, but the extent of suppression was partial or limited, especially in rats fed 10C, the suppression of plasma homocysteine increment being 48.5% in rats fed 10C and 69.7% in rats fed 20C. Although betaine supplementation greatly increased hepatic betaine concentration and BHMT activity, these increases did not fully explain why the effect of betaine supplementation was partial or limited. Folate deprivation markedly increased the hepatic concentration of N,N-dimethylglycine (DMG), a known inhibitor of BHMT, and there was a significant positive correlation between hepatic DMG concentration and plasma homocysteine concentration, suggesting that folate deficiency increases hepatic DMG concentration and thereby depresses BHMT reaction, leading to interference with the effect of betaine supplementation. Choline deprivation did not increase plasma homocysteine concentration in rats fed 20C, but it markedly enhanced plasma homocysteine concentration when rats were fed folate-deprived 20C. This indicates that choline deprivation reinforced folate deprivation-induced hyperhomocysteinemia. Increased hepatic DMG concentration was also associated with such an effect. These results support the concept that folate deficiency impairs homocysteine metabolism not only by the MS pathway but also by the BHMT pathway.