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Open Access Research

Effect of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid on gene expression of the critical enzymes involved in homocysteine metabolism

Tao Huang12, Mark L Wahlqvist123 and Duo Li12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, 310029 China

2 APCNS Centre of Nutrition and Food Safety, Hangzhou, China

3 National Health Research Institutes, Zhunan, Taiwan

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Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:6  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-6

Published: 19 January 2012

Abstract

Background

Previous studies showed that plasma n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) was negatively associated with plasma homocysteine (Hcy).

Objective

We investigated the regulatory effect of n-3 PUFA on mRNA expression of the critical genes encoding the enzymes involved in Hcy metabolism.

Methods

HepG2 cells were treated with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) respectively for 48 h. The cells were collected and total RNA was isolated. The mRNA expression levels of the genes were determined by using Real Time-PCR.

Results

Compared with controls, the mRNA expression levels of 5-methyltetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) were significantly increased in the DHA group (p < 0.05) and ALA group (p < 0.05); Significantly down-regulated mRNA expression of methionine adenosyltransferase (MAT) was observed with the treatments compared with the controls; the level of MAT expression was significant lower in the DHA group than the ALA group (p < 0.05); Cystathionine-γ-lyase (CSE) expression was significantly increased in the DHA (p < 0.05) and EPA groups (p < 0.05) compared with control. No significant changes were shown in mRNA expression levels of S-adenosylhomocysteine hydrolases (SAHH), cystathionine β-synthase (CBS), and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate-homocysteine methyltransferase (MTR).

Conclusions

Our results suggest that DHA up-regulates CSE and MTHFR mRNA expression and down-regulates MAT mRNA expression involved in Hcy metabolism.