Methylation, CFS and the microbiome

A reader ask me about methylation. In 2013, I did a post “methylation cycle gut bacteria and chronic fatigue syndrome” which found that E.Coli and Bacillus subtilis are both involved in methylation. CFS patients are very low in both, additionally, I posted in 2015 about Methylation Testing via 23andMe.com

Methylation has been a hot topic for a number of years in the CFS community and other medical areas. For example, Dr. Myrna Hill has written a page about it for CFS patients and cite “Rich van Konynenburg has identified a package of micronutrients specifically to support the methylation cycle”. Rich was very active in this area until he passed away in Sept 2012. There is a lot of his material on line. He was inspired by the work of Dr Amy Yasko.

In the month before he died, we had started discussing the role of the microbiome in methylation. I will attempt touch a few items only (there are over 88000 studies on pubmed)

DNA is a factor, but..

Epigenetics is also another factor

Epigenetics is modification of DNA’s behavior due to environmental events and stress.  You may have DNA that disposes you towards methylation issues — but it takes the right set of events to cause methylation issues. Sometimes this activation can persist for generations. Note that environmental includes shifts of the microbiome.

What about CFS and related conditions?

And… the microbiome?

  • The relationship between early-life environment, the epigenome and the microbiota [2015].
    • ” Epigenetics can change gene expression to modify disease risk; unfortunately, how epigenetics are changed by the environment is unclear. It is known that the environment modifies the microbiota, and recent data indicate that the microbiota and the epigenome interact and respond to each other. Specifically, the microbiome may alter the epigenome through the production of metabolites. Investigating the relationship between the microbiome and the epigenome may provide novel understanding of the impact of early-life environment on long-term health.”
  • Epigenetic imprinting by commensal probiotics inhibits the IL-23/IL-17 axis in an in vitro model of the intestinal mucosal immune system [2012].
    • Bifidobacterium breve (DSMZ 20213)  and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (ATCC 53103) may exert their anti-inflammatory effects in the gut by down-regulating the expression of the IBD-causing factors (IL-23/IL-17/CD40) associated with epigenetic processes involving the inhibition of histone acetylation and the optimal enhancement of DNA methylation, reflected in the limited access of NF-κB to gene promoters and reduced NF-κB-mediated transcriptional activation. …
    • We describe a new regulatory mechanism in which commensal probiotics inhibit the NF-κB-mediated transcriptional activation of IBD-causing factors (IL-23/IL-17/CD40), thereby simultaneously reducing histone acetylation and enhancing DNA methylation.

Bottom Line

Methylation is a very complex area. One path is that of supplements intending to help — think of this as taking B12, except you are taking methylated-B12. 1000 mcg/ 1 mg seems to be the effective ongoing dosage for B12, see this post. The other path is altering the microbiome to enhance methylation — the equivalent of taking Lactobacillus Reuteri to produce your own B12. Of course, you can do both at the same time. The first path will provide temporary symptom relief, the second path raise the prospect of a permanent correction of methylation issues.

There are four probiotic species that are indicated as good candidates:

  • E.Coli (Symbioflor-2 or Mutaflor)
  • Bifidobacterium breve (DSMZ 20213)
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (ATCC 53103) – aka Culturelle
  • Bacillus subtilis