Targeted Metabolomics Services


Updated 21/12/2022

What is measured?

Betaine (glycine betaine).
Total choline esters (as opposed to free choline), after liberation of choline from Synonym: Glycine betaine, trimethylglycine.
Method(s): LC-MS/MS (1).


Assessment of one-carbon status. Studies on folate status should include measurement of circulating betaine, which has been shown to serve as an alternative methyl donor in pregnant women (2) and middle aged men and women (3), in particular in subjects with low folate status.

Specimen, collection and processing

Patient/subject: Prandial status affects the concentration, which increases 10-15 % after a meal. The subjects should be fasting.
Matrix: EDTA plasma and serum.
Volume: Minimum volume is 35 µL, but 200 µL is optimal and allows reanalysis.
Preparation and stability: Betaine is fairly stable. The blood sample should be centrifuged and the plasma/serum fraction put on ice, and frozen.


Frozen, on dry ice. (for general instruction on transportation, click here)

Reported values, interpretation

Reported values: 15-60 µmol/L. The concentration is 20 % higher in men than in women.
Intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) : 0.65.


1. Midttun, O., Kvalheim, G., and Ueland, P.M. (2013). High-throughput, low-volume, multianalyte quantification of plasma metabolites related to one-carbon metabolism using HPLC-MS/MS. Anal Bioanal Chem 405, 2009-017.
2. Fernàndez-Roig, S., Cavallé-Busquets, P., Fernandez-Ballart, J.D., Ballesteros, M., Berrocal-Zaragoza, M.I., Salat-Batlle, J., Ueland, P.M., and Murphy, M.M. (2013). Low folate status enhances pregnancy changes in plasma betaine and dimethylglycine concentrations and the association between betaine and homocysteine. Am J Clin Nutr 97, 1252-59.
3. Holm, P.I., Ueland, P.M., Vollset, S.E., Midttun, O., Blom, H.J., Keijzer, M.B.A.J., and denHeijer, M. (2005). Betaine and folate status as cooperative determinants of plasma homocysteine in humans. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 25, 379-385.

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