There are large differences between men and women of child-bearing age in the expression level of 5 key enzymes in one-carbon metabolism almost certainly caused by the sex hormones. These male-female differences in one-carbon metabolism are greatly accentuated in during pregnancy. Thus, understanding the origin and consequences of sex differences in one-carbon metabolism is important for precision medicine.
We have created a mathematical model of hepatic one-carbon metabolism, based on the underlying physiology and biochemistry. We use the model to investigate the consequences of sex differences in gene expression. We use the model to give a mechanistic understanding of observed concentration differences in one-carbon metabolism and explain why women have lower S-andenosylmethionine, lower homocysteine, and higher choline and betaine. We give a new explanation of the well known phenomenon that folate supplementation lowers homocysteine and we show how to use the model to investigate the effects of vitamin deficiencies, gene polymorphisms, and nutrient input changes.
Our model of hepatic one-carbon metabolism is a useful platform for investigating the mechanistic reasons that underlie known associations between metabolites. In particular, we explain how gene expression differences lead to metabolic differences between males and females.