Homocysteine and DNA methylation: a review of animal and human literature

Pooja R Mandaviya, Lisette Stolk, Sandra G Heil*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


Homocysteine (Hcy) is a sulfur-containing non-protein forming amino acid, which is synthesized from methionine as an important intermediate in the one-carbon pathway. High concentrations of Hcy in a condition called hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy) are an independent risk factor for several disorders including cardiovascular diseases and osteoporotic fractures. Since Hcy is produced as a byproduct of the methyltransferase reaction, alteration in DNA methylation is studied as one of the underlying mechanisms of HHcy-associated disorders. In animal models, elevated Hcy concentrations are induced either by diet (high methionine, low B-vitamins, or both), gene knockouts (Mthfr, Cbs, Mtrr or Mtr) or combination of both to investigate their effects on DNA methylation or its markers. In humans, most of the literature involves case-control studies concerning patients. The focus of this review is to study existing literature on HHcy and its role in relation to DNA methylation. Apart from this, a few studies investigated the effect of Hcy-lowering trials on restoring DNA methylation patterns, by giving a folic acid or B-vitamin supplemented diet. These studies which were conducted in animal models as well as humans were included in this review.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-52
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Genetics and Metabolism
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Animals
  • Case-Control Studies
  • DNA Methylation
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Folic Acid/administration & dosage
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Homocysteine/metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia/therapy
  • Male
  • Methionine/metabolism
  • Models, Animal
  • Vitamin B Complex/metabolism
  • Vitamin B Deficiency/diet therapy

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