Blood biomarkers of methylation in Down syndrome and metabolic simulations using a mathematical model.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


The study tests the metabolites of the methylation cycle in individuals with Down syndrome (DS) and applies a mathematical model in order to change this cycle by nutritional factors.

Methods and results

We measured concentrations of the metabolites related to the methylation cycle in the blood of 35 young individuals with DS and 47 controls of comparable age. Moreover, we applied a mathematical model to learn more about the regulation of the methylation cycle in DS. Concentrations of cystathionine, cysteine, betaine, choline, dimethylglycine, S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH), S-adenosylmethionine (SAM), and holotranscobalamin were significantly higher in DS compared to the controls. The median SAM/SAH ratio was lower in DS and that of methionine and reduced glutathione did not differ significantly between the groups. The mathematical model showed that enhanced methionine turnover and accelerated Hcy-remethylation might explain the shift in the methylation cycle in DS.


In addition to the DS-related excess of cystathionine beta synthase (CBS) activity, increases in the activities of MS and betaine homocysteine methyl transferase, and in methionine input were necessary to account for the changes in metabolite levels observed in DS. A low-methionine diet might offer a perspective for reversing the metabolic imbalance in DS, but this awaits clinical investigations.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Obeid, R; Hartmuth, K; Herrmann, W; Gortner, L; Rohrer, TR; Geisel, J; Reed, MC; Nijhout, HF

Published Date

  • October 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 56 / 10

Start / End Page

  • 1582 - 1589

PubMed ID

  • 22930479

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1613-4133

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1613-4125

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/mnfr.201200162


  • eng