One-carbon metabolism nutrient status and plasma S-adenosylmethionine concentrations in middle-aged and older Chinese in Singapore

Int J Mol Epidemiol Genet. 2012;3(2):160-73. Epub 2012 May 15.


S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) is a primary methyl donor for the methylation of many molecules including DNA. DNA methylation is believed to play an important role in functions of cells and genes. Dietary, genetic and metabolic factors that influence systematic SAM levels are not fully understood. We conducted cross-sectional analysis to evaluate associations between plasma concentrations of one-carbon metabolism nutrients and metabolites and plasma SAM concentrations using healthy individuals within the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Plasma SAM, betaine, choline, folate, total homocysteine (Hcy), methionine, S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH), vitamin B(6) and vitamin B(12) concentrations were quantified. Genotypes of methionine adenosyltransferases (MAT1A, MAT2A and MAT2B) were also determined. Linear regression and path analysis were performed to depict the directed dependencies in one-carbon metabolism. Age and body mass index were positively associated while cigarette smoking were inversely associated with plasma SAM concentrations. Plasma choline, methionine and SAH were positively and strongly associated with plasma SAM after adjustment for confounders. Plasma betaine and folate were positively associated with plasma SAM only in men. Men carrying the variant MAT1A genotypes had lower plasma SAM concentrations than men carrying the wild type genotype (p for gene x gender interaction = 0.02). This effect modification by gender was restricted to individuals with low plasma methionine. In conclusion, plasma choline, methionine and SAH were strongly associated with plasma SAM concentrations. The MAT1A genetic polymorphism may impact plasma SAM concentrations in men with low plasma methionine concentrations.

Keywords: MAT genetic polymorphism; One-carbon metabolism; path analysis; plasma SAM.