UNLABELLED - Deletion of glycine N-methyltransferase (GNMT), the main gene involved in liver S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) catabolism, leads to the hepatic accumulation of this molecule and the development of fatty liver and fibrosis in mice. To demonstrate that the excess of hepatic SAM is the main agent contributing to liver disease in GNMT knockout (KO) mice, we treated 1.5-month-old GNMT-KO mice for 6 weeks with nicotinamide (NAM), a substrate of the enzyme NAM N-methyltransferase. NAM administration markedly reduced hepatic SAM content, prevented DNA hypermethylation, and normalized the expression of critical genes involved in fatty acid metabolism, oxidative stress, inflammation, cell proliferation, and apoptosis. More importantly, NAM treatment prevented the development of fatty liver and fibrosis in GNMT-KO mice. Because GNMT expression is down-regulated in patients with cirrhosis, and because some subjects with GNMT mutations have spontaneous liver disease, the clinical implications of the present findings are obvious, at least with respect to these latter individuals. Because NAM has been used for many years to treat a broad spectrum of diseases (including pellagra and diabetes) without significant side effects, it should be considered in subjects with GNMT mutations.
CONCLUSION - The findings of this study indicate that the anomalous accumulation of SAM in GNMT-KO mice can be corrected by NAM treatment leading to the normalization of the expression of many genes involved in fatty acid metabolism, oxidative stress, inflammation, cell proliferation, and apoptosis, as well as reversion of the appearance of the pathologic phenotype.