B-vitamin deficiency is protective against DSS-induced colitis in mice

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2011 Aug;301(2):G249-59. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00076.2011. Epub 2011 May 19.


Vitamin deficiencies are common in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Homocysteine (Hcys) is a thrombogenic amino acid produced from methionine (Met), and its increase in patients with IBD indicates a disruption of Met metabolism; however, the role of Hcys and Met metabolism in IBD is not well understood. We hypothesized that disrupted Met metabolism from a B-vitamin-deficient diet would exacerbate experimental colitis. Mice were fed a B(6)-B(12)-deficient or control diet for 2 wk and then treated with dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) to induce colitis. We monitored disease activity during DSS treatment and collected plasma and tissue for analysis of inflammatory tissue injury and Met metabolites. We also quantified Met cycle activity by measurements of in vivo Met kinetics using [1-(13)C-methyl-(2)H(3)]methionine infusion in similarly treated mice. Unexpectedly, we found that mice given the B-vitamin-deficient diet had improved clinical outcomes, including increased survival, weight maintenance, and reduced disease scores. We also found lower histological disease activity and proinflammatory gene expression (TNF-α and inducible nitric oxide synthase) in the colon in deficient-diet mice. Metabolomic analysis showed evidence that these effects were associated with deficient B(6), as markers of B(12) function were only mildly altered. In vivo methionine kinetics corroborated these results, showing that the deficient diet suppressed transsulfuration but increased remethylation. Our findings suggest that disrupted Met metabolism attributable to B(6) deficiency reduces the inflammatory response and disease activity in DSS-challenged mice. These results warrant further human clinical studies to determine whether B(6) deficiency and elevated Hcys in patients with IBD contribute to disease pathobiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Colitis / chemically induced
  • Colitis / metabolism*
  • Colitis / pathology
  • Colitis / prevention & control
  • Dextran Sulfate
  • Gene Expression
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Homocysteine / metabolism*
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin-10 / genetics
  • Interleukin-10 / metabolism
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Metabolomics
  • Methionine / metabolism*
  • Methylmalonic Acid / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II / genetics
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II / metabolism*
  • Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Pyridoxal Phosphate / metabolism
  • S-Adenosylhomocysteine / metabolism
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism*
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / metabolism*
  • Vitamin B 6 Deficiency / metabolism*


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Homocysteine
  • Interleukin-10
  • Pyridoxal Phosphate
  • Methylmalonic Acid
  • Dextran Sulfate
  • S-Adenosylhomocysteine
  • Methionine
  • Peroxidase
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Glutathione