Background: Previous studies showed that plasma n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) was negatively associated with plasma homocysteine (Hcy).
Objective: We investigated the regulatory effect of n-3 PUFA on mRNA expression of the critical genes encoding the enzymes involved in Hcy metabolism.
Methods: HepG2 cells were treated with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) respectively for 48 h. The cells were collected and total RNA was isolated. The mRNA expression levels of the genes were determined by using Real Time-PCR.
Results: Compared with controls, the mRNA expression levels of 5-methyltetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) were significantly increased in the DHA group (p < 0.05) and ALA group (p < 0.05); Significantly down-regulated mRNA expression of methionine adenosyltransferase (MAT) was observed with the treatments compared with the controls; the level of MAT expression was significant lower in the DHA group than the ALA group (p < 0.05); Cystathionine-γ-lyase (CSE) expression was significantly increased in the DHA (p < 0.05) and EPA groups (p < 0.05) compared with control. No significant changes were shown in mRNA expression levels of S-adenosylhomocysteine hydrolases (SAHH), cystathionine β-synthase (CBS), and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate-homocysteine methyltransferase (MTR).
Conclusions: Our results suggest that DHA up-regulates CSE and MTHFR mRNA expression and down-regulates MAT mRNA expression involved in Hcy metabolism.