Formaldehyde cycle and the natural formaldehyde generators and capturers

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S-adenosyl-L-methionine serves as a methyl donor in virtually all of the vast number of enzymatic transmethylation reactions including DNA methylation. On the basis of our former experiences we questioned the formation of a methyl cation or methyl radical in the enzymatic transmethylation reactions. The formation of formaldehyde from the methyl moiety of S-adenosyl-L-methionine has been demonstrated. It became increasingly evident that there is a formaldehyde cycle in biological systems in which the formation of the methyl group of L-methionine takes place through formaldehyde and the formation of formaldehyde from S-adenosyl-L-methionine is linked to different enzymatic transmethylation reactions. It is also known that during demethylation processes both formaldehyde and demethylated compound can be formed. The abnormalities of the originally controlled formaldehyde cycle and the uncontrolled enzymatic production of formaldehyde from endogenous and/or exogenous substrates may be potential risk factors in pathogenesis of different disorders. The formaldehyde generator and capturer molecules may potentially normalise these abnormal processes. Trans-resveratrol (trans-3,5,4'-trihydroxysrilbene), which is as phytoalexin, occurs naturally in grapes and a variety of medicinal plants. According to our present observations it is a natural concentration-dependent formaldehyde capture molecule. It would seem that elimination of the uncontrolled formaldehyde with resveratrol may exert a double effect in biological systems. The elimination of formaldehyde with resveratrol (first step) may cause a cardioprotective effect and the reaction products between resveratrol and formaldehyde (second step) may act as a chemopreventive factor against cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-238
Number of pages14
JournalActa biologica Hungarica
Issue number2-4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 1998


  • Betaines
  • Cardioprotective effect
  • Chemoprevention
  • Formaldehyde
  • Formaldehyde cycle
  • Resveratrol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Neurology

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