Biological Trace Element Research

, Volume 109, Issue 3, pp 201–214

Differential effects of dietary selenium (Se) and folate on methyl metabolism in liver and colon of rats

Accelerated Article

DOI: 10.1385/BTER:109:3:201

Cite this article as:
Uthus, E.O., Ross, S.A. & Davis, C.D. Biol Trace Elem Res (2006) 109: 201. doi:10.1385/BTER:109:3:201


A previous study compared the effects of folate on methyl metabolism in colon and liver of rats fed a selenium-deficient die (<3 μg Se/kg) to those of rats fed a diet containing supranutritional Se (2 mg selenite/kg). The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of folate and adequate Se (0.2 mg/kg) on methyl metabolism in colon and liver. Weanling, Fischer-344 rats (n=8/diet) were fed diets containing 0 or 0.2 mg selenium (as selenite)/kg and 0 or 2 mg folic acid/kg in a 2×2 design. After 70 d, plasma homocysteine was increased (p<0.0001) by folate deficiency; this increase was markedly, attenuated (p<0.0001) in rats fed the selenium-deficient diet compared to those fed 0.2 mg Se/kg. The activity of hepatic glycine N-methyltransferase (GNMT), an enzyme involved in the regulation of tissue S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) and S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH), was increased by folate deficiency (p<0.006) and decreased by selenium deprivation, (p<0.0003). Colon and liver SAH were highest (p<0.006) in rats fed deficient folate and adequate selenium. Although folate deficiency decreased liver SAM (p<0.001), it had no effect on colon SAM. Global DNA methylation was decreased (p<0.04) by selenium deficiency in colon but not liver; folate had no effect. Selenium, deficiency did not affect DNA methyltransferase (Dnmt) activity in liver but tended to decrease (p<0.06) the activity of the enzyme in the colon. Dietary folate did not affect liver or colon Dnmt. These results in rats fed adequate selenium are similar to previous results found in rats fed supranutritional selenium. This suggests that selenium deficiency appears to be a more important modifier of methyl metabolism than either adequate or supplemental selenium.

Index Entries

Selenium folate rat DNA methylation one-carbon metabolism 

Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric O. Uthus
    • 2
  • Sharon A. Ross
    • 1
  • Cindy D. Davis
    • 1
  1. 1.NIH/NCL, Nutritional Sciences Research GroupRockville
  2. 2.USDA-ARS Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research CenterGrand Forks

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