European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 55, Issue 5, pp 1863–1873 | Cite as

Prospective study of telomere length and LINE-1 methylation in peripheral blood cells: the role of B vitamins supplementation

  • Irene Pusceddu
  • Markus Herrmann
  • Susanne H. Kirsch
  • Christian Werner
  • Ulrich Hübner
  • Marion Bodis
  • Ulrich Laufs
  • Stefan Wagenpfeil
  • Jürgen Geisel
  • Wolfgang Herrmann
Original Contribution

Abstract

Purpose

Deficiencies of folate, vitamins B12 and D are common age-related conditions. Vitamin B12 and folate are necessary for DNA methylation. Telomeres appear to be regulated by DNA methylation. Here, we study the effect of B vitamins supplementation on telomere length and global DNA methylation in a prospective study.

Methods

In total, 60 elderly subjects were supplemented for 1 year with either vitamin B12, B6, folate, vitamin D and calcium (group A n = 31) or only vitamin D and calcium (group B n = 29). LINE-1 methylation, relative telomere length (T/S), vitamin B12, folate, homocysteine (tHcy) , 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-methylTHF), S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH), S-adenosylmethionine (SAM), cystathionine and vitamin D were quantified before and after supplementation.

Results

At baseline, tHcy was high, vitamin D was low, and T/S did not differ between groups A and B. Vitamin supplementation increased LINE-1 methylation in group A at site 317 but reduced LINE-1 methylation in group B at site 327. There was no correlation between T/S and LINE-1 methylation at baseline. Multiple backward regression analysis revealed baseline tHcy and 5-methylTHF are significant predictors of T/S. After supplementation in group B but not in group A, LINE-1 methylation correlated inversely with T/S, and LINE-1 methylation variation was an independent predictor of T/S variation. B vitamins decreased tHcy significantly in group A. Multiple backward regression analysis showed 5-methylTHF in group A and tHcy in group B were significant predictors for LINE-1 methylation. At baseline, the lower LINE-1 methylation observed in subjects with 5-methylTHF >10 nmol/l was in agreement with a reduced methyl group transfer due to a lower SAM formation. In group B, an increase in telomere length was correlated with lower LINE-1 methylation. Subjects with hyperhomocysteinemia >12 µmol/L had compared to those with normal tHcy a reduced LINE-1 methylation accompanied by a higher SAM and SAH (that inhibits demethylation of SAM) as well as lower 5-methylTHF. Additionally, subjects with tHcy > 12 µmol/L had longer telomeres when compared with subjects having tHcy < 12 µmol/L.

Conclusions

The results suggest a possible effect of B vitamins for telomere biology in blood cells. Suboptimal B vitamins status and hyperhomocysteinemia are associated with altered DNA methylation and telomere length. These data have to be confirmed in future studies.

Keywords

B vitamins Telomere length DNA methylation 

Notes

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irene Pusceddu
    • 1
  • Markus Herrmann
    • 2
  • Susanne H. Kirsch
    • 1
  • Christian Werner
    • 3
  • Ulrich Hübner
    • 1
  • Marion Bodis
    • 1
  • Ulrich Laufs
    • 3
  • Stefan Wagenpfeil
    • 4
  • Jürgen Geisel
    • 1
  • Wolfgang Herrmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory MedicineSaarland University HospitalHomburg/SaarGermany
  2. 2.Department of Clinical PathologyDistrict Hospital BolzanoBolzanoItaly
  3. 3.Department of CardiologySaarland University HospitalHomburg/SaarGermany
  4. 4.Department of Biometry and EpidemiologySaarland University HospitalHomburg/SaarGermany

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