Methionine partitioning between protein turnover and a considerable pool of transmethylation precursors is a critical process in the neonate. Transmethylation yields homocysteine, which is either oxidized to cysteine (ie, transsulfuration), or is remethylated to methionine by folate- or betaine- (from choline) mediated remethylation pathways. The present investigation quantifies the individual and synergistic importance of folate and betaine for methionine partitioning in neonates. To minimize whole body remethylation, 4–8-d-old piglets were orally fed an otherwise complete diet without remethylation precursors folate, betaine and choline (i.e. methyl-deplete, MD-) (n=18). Dietary methionine was reduced from 0.3 to 0.2 g/(kg∙d) on day-5 to limit methionine availability, and methionine kinetics were assessed during a gastric infusion of [13C1]methionine and [2H3-methyl]methionine. Methionine kinetics were reevaluated 2 d after pigs were rescued with either dietary folate (38 μg/(kg∙d)) (MD + F) (n=6), betaine (235 mg/(kg∙d)) (MD + B) (n=6) or folate and betaine (MD + FB) (n=6). Plasma choline, betaine, dimethylglycine (DMG), folate and cysteine were all diminished or undetectable after 7 d of methyl restriction (P<.05). Post-rescue, plasma betaine and folate concentrations responded to their provision, and homocysteine and glycine concentrations were lower (P<.05). Post-rescue, remethylation and transmethylation rates were~70–80% higher (P<.05), and protein breakdown was spared by 27% (P<.05). However, rescue did not affect transsulfuration (oxidation), plasma methionine, protein synthesis or protein deposition (P>.05). There were no differences among rescue treatments; thus betaine was as effective as folate at furnishing remethylation. Supplemental betaine or folate can furnish the transmethylation requirement during acute protein restriction in the neonate.
- Protein Metabolism