Global DNA hypomethylation and its correlation to the betaine level in peripheral blood of patients with schizophrenia

Yui Murata, Tempei Ikegame, Shinsuke Koike, Takeo Saito, Masashi Ikeda, Tsukasa Sasaki, Nakao Iwata, Kiyoto Kasai, Miki Bundo, Kazuya Iwamoto

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Accumulating evidence suggests that aberrant epigenetic regulation is involved in the pathophysiology of major psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia (SZ) and bipolar disorder (BD). We previously showed that the plasma level of betaine (N,N,N-trimethylglycine), a methyl-group donor, was significantly decreased in patients with first episode schizophrenia (FESZ). In this study, we identified decrease of global DNA methylation level in FESZ (N = 24 patients vs N = 42 controls), and found that global DNA methylation level was inversely correlated with scores on the global assessment of functioning (GAF) scale, and positively correlated with plasma betaine level. Notably, correlations between levels of betaine and its metabolites (N,N-dimethylglycine and sarcosine, N-methylglycine) were lower or lost in FESZ plasma, but remained high in controls. We further examined global DNA methylation levels in patients with chronic SZ (N = 388) and BD (N = 414) as well as controls (N = 430), and confirmed significant hypomethylation and decreased betaine level in SZ. We also found that patients with BD type I, but not those with BD type II, showed significant global hypomethylation. These results suggest that global hypomethylation associated with decreased betaine level in blood cells is common to SZ and BD, and may reflect common pathophysiology such as psychotic symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109855
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 20-04-2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Biological Psychiatry


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