An increase in the plasma level of Hcy (homocysteine), an intermediate in the catabolism of methionine, has been identified as a risk factor for many diseases including CVD (cardiovascular disease). CVD is the major cause of death in patients with diabetes mellitus. Therefore the study of Hcy metabolism in diabetes mellitus has been a major focus of current research. Studies conducted in our laboratory were able to show that in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes with no renal complications, the plasma Hcy levels were lower than in controls. In Type 1 diabetes, increased activities of the trans-sulfuration enzymes were the major cause for the reduction in plasma Hcy. In Type 2 diabetes, BHMT (betaine:homocysteine methyltransferase) was also observed to play a major role in the increased catabolism of Hcy in addition to the trans-sulfuration enzymes. We were also able to demonstrate the direct effect of insulin and the counter-regulatory hormones on the regulation of cystathionine β-synthase and BHMT, which accounts for the changes in the activities of these two enzymes seen in diabetes mellitus.

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