Amino Acids

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 317–326 | Cite as

Homocysteine metabolism in peripheral blood mononuclear cells: evidence for cystathionine beta-synthase activity in resting state

  • Monika Katko
  • Erzsebet Zavaczki
  • Viktoria Jeney
  • Gyorgy Paragh
  • Jozsef Balla
  • Zsuzsa VargaEmail author
Original Article


Activated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) release homocysteine and possess cystathionine β-synthase (CBS) activity; however, it was thought that there is no CBS in resting state. Previously, we found that nickel decreased intracellular homocysteine concentration in un-stimulated (e.g. resting) PBMC, suggesting that resting PBMC might also have active homocysteine metabolism. Here, we demonstrated that un-stimulated PBMC synthesize (incorporate l-[methyl-14C]methionine to DNA, lipids and proteins), release (increase extracellular homocysteine), and metabolize homocysteine. Intracellular homocysteine concentration varied with incubation time, depending on extracellular concentrations of methionine, homocysteine, and glutathione. Methionine synthase activity was constant and independent of thiol concentrations. In Western blot, CBS protein was clearly identified in freshly isolated PBMC. CBS protein level and activity increased with incubation time, upon stimulation, and similar to intracellular homocysteine, depending on intra- and extracellular homocysteine and glutathione concentrations. According to our knowledge, this is the first evidence that certifies homocysteine metabolism and regulatory role of CBS activity to keep balanced intracellular homocysteine level in resting PBMC. Homocysteine, released by PBMC, in turn can modulate its functions contributing to the development of hyperhomocysteinemia-induced diseases.


PBMC Cystathionine β-synthase Intracellular homocysteine Extracellular homocysteine Methionine Glutathione 



Research was sponsored by the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (Grant numbers OTKA T 22739 and T 48596). We thank to Professor Gabriella Foris (Head of Experimental Laboratory, Health and Medical Science Centre, University of Debrecen) who provide confluent HepG2 cells.

Conflict of interest

None of the authors shares any conflict of interest or is consultants for companies.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monika Katko
    • 1
  • Erzsebet Zavaczki
    • 1
  • Viktoria Jeney
    • 1
  • Gyorgy Paragh
    • 1
  • Jozsef Balla
    • 1
  • Zsuzsa Varga
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.First Department of Medicine, Medical and Health Science CenterUniversity of DebrecenDebrecenHungary

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