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Homocysteine (Hcy) is methylated by methionine synthase to form methionine with methyl-cobalamin as a cofactor. The reaction demethylates 5-methyltetrahydrofolate to tetrahydrofolate, which is required for DNA and RNA synthesis. Deficiency of either of the cobalamin (Cbl) and/or folate cofactors results in elevated Hcy and megaloblastic anemia. Elevated Hcy is a sensitive biomarker of Cbl and/or folate status and more specific than serum vitamin assays. Elevated Hcy normalizes when the correct vitamin is given. Elevated Hcy is associated with alcohol use disorder and drugs that target folate or Cbl metabolism, and is a risk factor for thrombotic vascular disease. Elevated methionine and cystathionine are associated with liver disease. Elevated Hcy, cystathionine, and cysteine, but not methionine, are common in patients with chronic renal failure. Higher cysteine predicts obesity and future weight gain. Serum S-adenosylhomocysteine (AdoHcy) is elevated in Cbl deficiency and chronic renal failure. Drugs that require methylation for catabolism may deplete liver S-adenosylmethionine and raise AdoHcy and Hcy. Deficiency of Cbl or folate or perturbations of their metabolism cause major changes in sulfur amino acids. © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society for Nutrition.


Sally P Stabler. Alterations in Sulfur Amino Acids as Biomarkers of Disease. The Journal of nutrition. 2020 Oct 01;150(Suppl 1):2532S-2537S

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PMID: 33000156

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