S-Adenosylmethionine Is Associated with Fat Mass and Truncal Adiposity in Older Adults

Amany K. Elshorbagy*, Giel Nijpels, Maria Valdivia-Garcia, Coen D. A. Stehouwer, Marga Ocke, Helga Refsum, Jacqueline M. Dekker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) is synthesized from methionine, which is abundant in animal-derived protein, in an energy-consuming reaction. SAM and S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH) correlate with body mass index (BMI). Plasma total concentration of the SAM-associated product cysteine (tCys) correlates with fat mass in humans and cysteine promotes adiposity in animals. In a cross-sectional study of 610 participants, we investigated whether SAM and SAH are associated with BMI via lean mass or fat mass and dietary protein sources as determinants of SAM and tCys concentrations. Plasma SAM was not associated with lean mass, but mean adjusted fat mass increased from 24 kg (95% CI: 22.6, 25.1) to 30 kg (95% CI: 28.7, 31.3) across SAM quartiles (P <0.001) and trunk fat:total fat ratio increased from 0.48 to 0.52 (P <0.001). Erythrocyte SAM was also positively associated with fat mass and trunk fat:total fat ratio. The association of SAM with fat mass was not weakened by adjustment for serum tCys, lipids, creatinine, or dietary or lifestyle confounders. Concentrations of the SAM precursor, methionine, and the SAM product, SAH, were not independently associated with adiposity. Intake of animal-derived protein was not related to serum methionine but was positively associated with plasma SAM (partial r = 0.11) and serum tCys (partial r = 0.13; P <0.05 for both after adjustment for age, gender, and total energy intake). In conclusion, plasma SAM, but not methionine, is independently associated with fat mass and truncal adiposity, suggesting increased conversion of methionine to SAM in obese individuals. Prospective studies are needed to investigate the interactions among dietary energy and animal protein content, SAM concentrations, and change in body weight and cardiometabolic risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1982-1988
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013

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