Plasma 1-carbon metabolites and academic achievement in 15-yr-old adolescents. The Official Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, January 4, 2016. Torbjörn K. Nilsson*,1, Anita Hurtig-Wennlöf †, Michael Sjöström ‡, Wolfgang Herrmann §, Rima Obeid §, Jennifer R. Owen ¶ and Steven Zeisel ¶,‖.
* Department of Medical Biosciences/Clinical Chemistry, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
† Faculty of Medicine and Health, School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden
‡ Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
§ Department of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, Saarland University Hospital, Homburg/Saar, Germany
¶ Nutrition Research Institute, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Kannapolis, North Carolina, USA
‖ Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
↵1 Correspondence: Department of Medical Biosciences/Clinical Chemistry, Umeå University, S-90185 Umeå, Sweden. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Academic achievement in adolescents is correlated with 1-carbon metabolism (1-CM), as folate intake is positively related and total plasma homocysteine (tHcy) negatively related to academic success. Because another 1-CM nutrient, choline is essential for fetal neurocognitive development, we hypothesized that choline and betaine could also be positively related to academic achievement in adolescents. In a sample of 15-yr-old children (n = 324), we measured plasma concentrations of homocysteine, choline, and betaine and genotyped them for 2 polymorphisms with effects on 1-CM, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) 677C>T, rs1801133, and phosphatidylethanolamine N-methyltransferase (PEMT), rs12325817 (G>C). The sum of school grades in 17 major subjects was used as an outcome measure for academic achievement. Lifestyle and family socioeconomic status (SES) data were obtained from questionnaires. Plasma choline was significantly and positively associated with academic achievement independent of SES factors (paternal education and income, maternal education and income, smoking, school) and of folate intake (P = 0.009, R2 = 0.285). With the addition of the PEMT rs12325817 polymorphism, the association value was only marginally changed. Plasma betaine concentration, tHcy, and the MTHFR 677C>T polymorphism did not affect academic achievement in any tested model involving choline. Dietary intake of choline is marginal in many adolescents and may be a public health concern.—Nilsson, T. K., Hurtig-Wennlöf, A., Sjöström, M., Herrmann, W., Obeid, R., Owen, J. R., Zeisel, S. Plasma 1-carbon metabolites and academic achievement in 15-yr-old adolescents.