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Other Names: SAM-e, S-adenosylmethionine
S-Adenosyl methionine (SAM) is a coenzyme involved in methyl group transfers. SAM was first discovered in Italy by G. L. Cantoni in 1952. It is made from adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and methionine by methionine adenosyltransferase EC 184.108.40.206. Transmethylation, transsulfuration, and aminopropylation are the metabolic pathways that use SAM. Although these anabolic reactions occur throughout the body, most SAM is produced and consumed in the liver.
The methyl group (CH3) attached to the methionine sulfur atom in SAM is chemically reactive. This allows donation of this group to an acceptor substrate in transmethylation reactions. More than 40 metabolic reactions involve the transfer of a methyl group from SAM to various substrates such as nucleic acids, proteins, and lipids.
In bacteria, SAM is bound by the SAM riboswitch, which regulates genes involved in methionine or cysteine biosynthesis.
The supplement SAMe is a synthetic form of a compound formed naturally in the body from the essential amino acid methionine and adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy-producing compound found in all cells in the body. It was first discovered in 1953.
SAMe is believed to work by being a methyl group donor in many reactions in the body. After donating the methyl group, it is converted to a compound called S-adenosyl-homocysteine.
Molecular formula: C15H23N6O5S+
Molar mass: 399.447
Biochemistry of S-adenosyl methionine:-
The reactions that produce, consume, and regenerate SAM are called the SAM cycle. In the first step of this cycle, the SAM-dependent methylases (EC 2.1.1) that use SAM as a substrate produce S-adenosyl homocysteine as a product. This is hydrolysed to homocysteine and adenosine by S-adenosylhomocysteine hydrolase EC 220.127.116.11 and the homocysteine recycled back to methionine through transfer of a methyl group from 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, by one of the two classes of methionine synthases EC 18.104.22.168 or EC 22.214.171.124. This methionine can then be converted back to SAM, completing the cycle.
Another major role of SAM is in polyamine biosynthesis. Here, SAM is decarboxylated by Adenosylmethionine decarboxylase EC 126.96.36.199 to form S-adenosyl-5′-3-methylpropylamine. This compound then donates its n-propylamine group in the biosynthesis of polyamines such as spermidine and spermine from putrescine.
SAM is required for cellular growth and repair. It is also involved in the biosynthesis of several hormones and neurotransmitters that affect mood, such as dopamine and serotonin. Methyltransferases are also responsible for the addition of methyl groups to the 2′ hydroxyls of the first and second nucleotides next to the 5′ cap in messenger RNA.
In the United States, SAM is sold as a nutritional supplement under the marketing name SAM-e (also spelled SAME or SAMe; pronounced “sam ee”). SAM is also marketed under the Gumbaral, Samyr, Adomet and Admethionine brand names. Some research has indicated that taking SAM on a regular basis may help fight depression, liver disease, and the pain of osteoarthritis. An authoritative report on SAMe is from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Dept Health and Human Services) at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/bv.fcgi?rid=hstat1a.chapter.2159. Multiple clinical trials indicate benefits for depression, some liver conditions and osteoarthritis. All other indications are not yet proven.
Therapeutic use of SAM has increased as dietary supplements have gained in popularity, especially after the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act was passed in 1994. This law allowed the distribution of SAM as dietary supplement, and therefore allowed it to bypass the regulatory requirements for drugs of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
At first, a line of evidence suggested that abnormally low levels of endogenous SAM may play an important role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and that SAM may therefore have therapeutic potential in the treatment of AD (further research indicates this effect is likely due to Vitamin B12 deficiencies, which cause neurologic defects through one carbon transfers with folate). Severely low levels of SAM have been found in the cerebrospinal fluid and in all brain regions of AD patients examined. Preliminary research suggests SAM may have therapeutic potential in treating AD patients and a recent study using a mouse model of AD found that supplementary SAM prevented oxidative damage and cognitive impairment. In that study (available online), Tchantchou et al also explain the biomechanics that in addition to the above findings make low SAM a likely causal component of AD pathology.
Oral SAMe achieves peak plasma concentrations 3 to 5 hours after ingestion of an enteric-coated tablet (400 – 1000 mg). The half-life is about 100 minutes. It may require up to one month for it to reach full effectiveness in treating osteoarthritis. Because of structural instability, stable salt forms of SAM are required for its use as an oral drug. The University of Maryland lists the commonly used salts: tosylate, butanedisulfonate, disulfate tosylate, disulfate ditosylate, and disulfate monotosylate.
With the advent of FDA-mandated Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) in 2008, manufacturers are required to confirm that their products contain what is listed on the label through the end of shelf life. Whether they achieve this goal or not has been questioned. Subscribers to Consumer Labs have access to a comparative report on SAMe content of various supplements.
Claims that the SAMe butanedisulfonate salt is more stable or better absorbed are not supported by the references that are usually cited as evidence. Different salts have successfully been used in clinical trials, but there is no published head-to-head comparison
SAMe is best absorbed on an empty stomach. Enteric-coated tablets packaged in foil or foil blister packs increase stability and improve absorption. SAMe should be stored in a cool, dry place to prevent deterioration.
People Use SAMe In:-
There have been a number of studies on the effectiveness of SAMe in the treatment of osteoarthritis. SAMe appears to diminish osteoarthritis pain as effectively as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. It appears to be well-tolerated.
There have been a number of studies on the use of SAMe for depression. It has been hypothesized that SAMe increases the availaibility of neurotransmitter serotonin and dopamine.
Some evidence suggests that SAMe may help people with liver disease. Preliminary research suggests it may help to normalize liver enzyme levels and help with cholestasis.
Possible side effects:-
SAM-e & Homocysteine: Once SAM-e donates its methyl group to choline, creatine, carnitine, DNA, tRNA, norepinephrine, and other compounds, it is transformed into S-adenosyl-homocysteine, (SAH). Under normal circumstances, homocysteine, in the presence of Vitamin B6, B12, and folic acid (SAM-e’s main co-factors), will eventually be converted back into methionine, SAM-e, or cysteine, glutathione, and other useful substances. However, if adequate amounts of these vitamins are not present, SAM-e will not break down properly. As a consequence, the full benefits of SAM-e will not be obtained, and homocysteine may increase to unsafe levels.
High levels of homocysteine have been associated with atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries), as well as an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, liver damage, and possibly Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, Vitamin B supplements are often taken along with SAM-e. These vitamins help metabolize the homocysteine into other useful compounds.
Another reported side effect of SAMe is insomnia, therefore the supplement is often taken in the morning. Other reports of mild side effects include lack of appetite, constipation, nausea, dry mouth, sweating, and anxiety/nervousness, but in placebo-controlled studies these side effects occur at about the same incidence in the placebo groups.
Therapeutic doses range from 400 mg/day to 1600 mg/day, although higher doses are used in some cases. Consult with your physician before and during use.
Gastrointestinal disorder, diarrhea, dyspepsia, anxiety, headache, psychiatric, insomnia, allergy, and rashes. Long-term effects are unknown.
There is concern and one report of the potentially fatal serotonin syndrome in association of SAMe with other medications.
Induction of mania:
In an extensive MEDLINE search on SAMe, Kagan found induction of mania in one patient out of fifteen treated with parenteral SAMe. In the same review, Lipinski found the apparent induction of mania in two patients with bipolar disorder (total of nine depressed patients studied).Both depression and mania can be life-threatening conditions that may cause cognitive dysfunction even after remission. There is concern that antidepressants in general can induce hypomania, mania, or both.
The safety of SAMe during pregnancy and during breastfeeding is unknown.
People with bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and other psychiatric conditions should only use SAMe under the supervision of their healthcare provider. SAMe has been associated with hypomania and mania.
The most common side effects are digestive complaints, particularly nausea. Other side effects include skin rash, lowered blood sugar, dry mouth, blood in the stool, thirst, increased urination, headache, hyperactivity, anxiety and insomnia.
People with Parkinson’s disease should avoid SAM-e.
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Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.