What is Methylation?

What is MethylationMethylation is a biochemical reaction for the attachment / detachment of the methyl group -CH3, which takes place in every cell of our body billions of times per second. For the optimal course of this process, a sufficient intake of amino acids (methionine), vitamins (B2, B6, B12, folates), minerals (zinc, iron), as well as choline and betaine is necessary. Genetic factors and oxidative stressors can also affect performance.

In what biochemical processes does the methylation reaction take place?

  • Construction and restoration of DNA and RNA during cell division;
  • Regulation of gene expression: turning on/off genes during differentiation of embryonic stem cells, pro-oncogenes, oncopathology suppressor genes, viral genome.

Energy production:

  • synthesis of coenzyme Q10, which is responsible for the stability of the electronic transport chain;
  • synthesis of carnitine, to “burn” long-chain fatty acids in the mitochondria;
  • synthesis of creatine in the muscles (energy reserve for starting physical activity);
  • synthesis of intermediate organic acids of the Krebs cycle;
  • mitochondrial DNA synthesis.


  • synthesis of glutathione – the most powerful detoxifying and antioxidant molecule in the body (detoxification of heavy metals);
  • synthesis of sulfates for phase II detoxification (detoxification of phenols);

Nervous system function:

  • synthesis and detoxification of neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline, norepinephrine, acetylcholine, melatonin), which regulate mood and cognitive abilities;
  • myelination of nerve fibers;
  • synthesis and biotransformation of estrogens.
  • Biosynthesis of phosphatidylcholine – a structural component of cell membranes, which is responsible for its fluidity and repair.

Immune regulation:

  • T-helper synthesis;
  • activation of NK cells, cytokines;
  • overgrowth of histamine.

In addition, elevated levels of toxic homocysteine have a negative effect on the vascular wall:

  • reduces NO production;
  • promotes the formation of lipid peroxides;
  • accelerates the formation of thrombin;
  • inhibits thrombolysis;
  • increases platelet adhesion;
  • increases the proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells.

Biomaterial used for analysis:

  • metabolites of the methylation process are measured in the blood;
  • a buccal smear (smear of cells on the inner surface of the cheek) is used to analyze genetic single nucleotide polymorphisms.

DNA methylation

DNA methylation is one of the mechanisms for regulating gene expression.

During DNA methylation, the methyl group CH3- by special enzymes is attached to one of the bases of DNA, cytosine. As a result, 5-methylcytosine is formed, and gene expression changes.

DNA methylation is a dynamic process. It can change under the influence of external factors, is associated with the development of a number of pathologies, and in some cases it can be inherited by the next several generations. Methylation plays a key role in development and aging. With age, changes in methylation patterns are observed: some regions of the genome are demethylated, and the reverse process also occurs – hypermethylation of some promoter regions, including certain tumor suppressor genes, which is associated with the development of pathologies.

Methylation changes play one of the key roles in aging, and in addition, they can be used as a molecular clock to determine biological age, which correlates with the passport age, but not absolutely.