Betaine supplementation prevents fatty liver induced by a high-fat diet: effects on one-carbon metabolism

Amino Acids. 2015 Apr;47(4):839-46. doi: 10.1007/s00726-014-1913-x. Epub 2015 Jan 11.


The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of betaine supplementation on the regulation of one-carbon metabolism and liver lipid accumulation induced by a high-fat diet in rats. Rats were fed one of three different liquid diets: control diet, high-fat diet and high-fat diet supplemented with betaine. The control and high-fat liquid diets contained, respectively, 35 and 71 % of energy derived from fat. Betaine supplementation involved the addition of 1 % (g/L) to the diet. After three weeks on the high-fat diet the rats had increased total liver fat concentration, liver triglycerides, liver TBARS and plasma TNF-α. The high-fat diet decreased the hepatic S-adenosylmethionine concentration and the S-adenosylmethionine/S-adenosylhomocysteine ratio compared to the control as well as altering the expression of genes involved in one-carbon metabolism. Betaine supplementation substantially increased the hepatic S-adenosylmethionine concentration (~fourfold) and prevented fatty liver and hepatic injury induced by the high-fat diet. It was accompanied by the normalization of the gene expression of BHMT, GNMT and MGAT, which code for key enzymes of one-carbon metabolism related to liver fat accumulation. In conclusion, the regulation of the expression of MGAT by betaine supplementation provides an additional and novel mechanism by which betaine supplementation regulates lipid metabolism and prevents accumulation of fat in the liver.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acyltransferases / genetics
  • Acyltransferases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Betaine / administration & dosage*
  • Carbon / metabolism
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects*
  • Dietary Supplements / analysis*
  • Fatty Liver / drug therapy*
  • Fatty Liver / etiology
  • Fatty Liver / genetics
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism
  • Glycine N-Methyltransferase / genetics
  • Glycine N-Methyltransferase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • S-Adenosylhomocysteine / metabolism*
  • S-Adenosylmethionine / metabolism*
  • Triglycerides / metabolism


  • Triglycerides
  • Betaine
  • Carbon
  • S-Adenosylmethionine
  • S-Adenosylhomocysteine
  • Glycine N-Methyltransferase
  • Gnmt protein, rat
  • Acyltransferases
  • 2-acylglycerol O-acyltransferase