Type I diabetes leads to tissue-specific DNA hypomethylation in male rats

Kelly T. Williams, Timothy A. Garrow, Kevin L. Schalinske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Numerous perturbations of methyl group and homocysteine metabolism have been documented as an outcome of diabetes. It has also been observed that there is a transition from hypo- to hyperhomocysteinemia in diabetes, often concurrent with the development of nephropathy. The objective of this study was to characterize the temporal changes in methyl group and homocysteine metabolism in the liver and kidney and to determine the impact these alterations have on DNA methylation in type 1 diabetic rats. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were injected with streptozotocin (60 mg/kg body weight) to induce diabetes and samples were collected at 2, 4, and 8 wk. At 8 wk, hepatic and renal betaine-homocysteine S-methyltransferase activities were greater in diabetic rats, whereas methionine synthase activity was lower in diabetic rat liver and kidney did not differ. Cystathionine β-synthase abundance was greater in the liver but less in the kidney of diabetic rats. Both hepatic and renal glycine N-methyltransferase (GNMT) activity and abundance were greater in diabetic rats; however, changes in renal activity and/or abundance were present only at 2 and 4 wk, whereas hepatic GNMT was induced at all time points. Most importantly, we have shown that genomic DNA was hypomethylated in the liver, but not the kidney, in diabetic rats. These results suggest that diabetes-induced perturbations of methyl group and homocysteine metabolism lead to functional methyl deficiency, resulting in the hypomethylation of DNA in a tissue-specific fashion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2064-2069
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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