Fibrates may Cause an Abnormal Urinary Betaine Loss Which is Associated with Elevations in Plasma Homocysteine

Biochemistry Unit, Canterbury Health Laboratories, P.O. Box 151, Christchurch, 8140, New Zealand.
Cardiovascular Drugs and Therapy (Impact Factor: 3.19). 08/2009; 23(5):395-401. DOI: 10.1007/s10557-009-6188-1
Source: PubMed


Betaine is an osmolyte, supplies methyl groups, and controls plasma homocysteine. Abnormal urinary loss of betaine is common in patients with the metabolic syndrome or diabetes mellitus. These patients are often treated with fibrates which alter renal function and raise plasma homocysteine concentrations. We suggest there is a connection between fibrate treatment and betaine excretion.
We identified 32 fibrate-treated patients in several studies (total of 740 subjects) and compared the betaine excretion by these with the excretion by other patients, both in the separate studies and in the combined group. We investigated the correlation of betaine excretion with homocysteine in these groups.
Patients taking bezafibrate had higher betaine excretion than patients not taking fibrates, p < 0.00001 in some studies with n < 10. Of 32 patients taking bezafibrate, 20 had abnormal (>97.5 %-ile) betaine excretion. Plasma homocysteine correlated positively with betaine excretion in male patients with lipid disorders who were not taking fibrate (n = 68, p = 0.043), but the relationship was stronger if patients taking bezafibrate were included (n = 76, p < 0.00001). In elderly (>65 years) subjects with hypertension there was a similar correlation (n = 19, p = 0.047), which was stronger when a subject taking bezafibrate was included (n = 20, p = 0.013).
Abnormal betaine excretion is common in patients treated with bezafibrate. Bezafibrate appears to exacerbate betaine loss, which will cause a rise in plasma homocysteine. Betaine supplementation could be considered in conjunction with fibrate therapy.

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    • "The urinary betaine excretion, measured as the ratio to creatinine, is potentially more useful; as well as the abnormally high betaine excretion in diabetes and the metabolic syndrome, high excretion is common in chronic renal failure patients without diabetes, and interestingly, an abnormally low betaine excretion is also found in some patients with diabetes or with chronic renal failure, though so far the clinical significance of this is unknown. Fibrate therapy causes elevated excretions [108], especially in patients with features of the metabolic syndrome. Abnormal betaine excretions are often persistent for years [110]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Betaine is an essential osmolyte and source of methyl groups and comes from either the diet or by the oxidation of choline. Its metabolism methylates homocysteine to methionine, also producing N,N-dimethylglycine. Betaine insufficiency is associated with the metabolic syndrome, lipid disorders and diabetes, and may have a role in vascular and other diseases. Betaine is important in development, from the pre-implantation embryo to infancy. Betaine supplementation improves animal and poultry health, but the effect of long-term supplementation on humans is not known, though reports that it improves athletic performance will stimulate further studies. Subsets of the population that may benefit from betaine supplementation could be identified by the laboratory, in particular those who excessively lose betaine through the urine.Plasma betaine is highly individual, in women typically 20–60 μmol/L and in men 25–75 μmol/L. Plasma dimethylglycine is typically < 10 μmol/L. Urine betaine excretion is minimal, even following a large betaine dose. It is constant, highly individual and normally < 35 mmol/mole creatinine. The preferred method of betaine measurement is by LC-MS/MS, which is rapid and capable of automation. Slower HPLC methods give comparable results. Proton NMR spectrometry is another option but caution is needed to avoid confusion with trimethylamine-N-oxide.
    Clinical biochemistry 06/2010; 43(9-43):732-744. DOI:10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2010.03.009 · 2.28 Impact Factor
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    Cardiovascular Drugs and Therapy 10/2009; 23(5):341-2. DOI:10.1007/s10557-009-6201-8 · 3.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Low plasma betaine has been associated with unfavorable plasma lipid profiles and cardiovascular risk. In some studies raised plasma betaine after supplementation is associated with elevations in plasma lipids. We aimed to measure the relationships between plasma and urine betaine and plasma lipids, and the effects of lipid-lowering drugs on these. Fasting plasma samples were collected from 531 subjects (and urine samples from 415) 4 months after hospitalization for an acute coronary syndrome episode. In this cross-sectional study, plasma betaine and dimethylglycine concentrations and urine excretions were compared with plasma lipid concentrations. Subgroup comparisons were made for gender, with and without diabetes mellitus, and for drug treatment. Plasma betaine negatively correlated with triglyceride (Spearman's r(s) = -0.22, p<0.0001) and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (r(s) = -0.27, p<0.0001). Plasma betaine was a predictor of BMI (p<0.05) and plasma non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride (p<0.001) independently of gender, age and the presence of diabetes. Using data grouped by plasma betaine decile, increasing plasma betaine was linearly related to decreases in BMI (p = 0.008) and plasma non-HDL cholesterol (p = 0.002). In a non-linear relationship betaine was negatively associated with elevated plasma triglycerides (p = 0.004) only for plasma betaine >45 µmol/L. Subjects taking statins had higher plasma betaine concentrations (p<0.001). Subjects treated with a fibrate had lower plasma betaine (p = 0.003) possibly caused by elevated urine betaine loss (p<0.001). The ratio of coenzyme Q to non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol was higher in subjects with higher plasma betaine, and in subjects taking a statin. Low plasma betaine concentrations correlated with an unfavourable lipid profile. Betaine deficiency may be common in the study population. Controlled clinical trials of betaine supplementation should be conducted in appropriate populations to determine whether correction affects cardiovascular risk.
    PLoS ONE 07/2011; 6(7):e21666. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0021666 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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