A 19-base pair deletion polymorphism in dihydrofolate reductase is associated with increased unmetabolized folic acid in plasma and decreased red blood cell folate

Renee D. Kalmbach, Silvina F. Choumenkovitch, Aron P. Troen, Paul F. Jacques, Ralph D'Agostino, Jacob Selhub*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations

Abstract

Dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) catalyzes the reduction of folic acid to tetrahydrofolate (THF). A 19-bp noncoding deletion allele maps to intron 1, beginning 60 bases from the splice donor site, and has been implicated in neural tube defects and cancer, presumably by influencing folate metabolism. The functional impact of this polymorphism has not yet been demonstrated. The objective of this research was to determine the effects of the DHFR mutation with respect to folate status and assess influence of folic acid intake on these relations. The relationship between DHFR genotype and plasma concentrations of circulating folic acid, total folate, total homocysteine, and concentrations of RBC folate was determined in 1215 subjects from the Framingham Offspring Study. There was a significant interaction between DHFR genotype and folic acid intake with respect to the prevalence of high circulating unmetabolized folic acid (defined as >85th percentile). Folic acid intake of ≥500 μg/d increased the prevalence of high circulating unmetabolized folic acid in subjects with the deletion (del/del genotype (47.0%) compared with the wild type (WT)/del (21.4%) and wild type (WT)/WT genotypes (24.4%) (P for interaction = 0.03). Interaction between the DHFR polymorphism and folic acid intake was also seen with respect to RBC folate (P for interaction = 0.01). When folic acid intake was <250 μg/d, the del/del genotype was associated with significantly lower RBC folate (732.3 nmol/L) compared with the WT/WT genotype (844.4 nmol/L). Our results suggest the del/del polymorphism in DHFR is a functional polymorphism, because it limits assimilation of folic acid into cellular folate stores at high and low folic acid intakes.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2323-2327
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Volume138
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes

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