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Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase 677C→T genotype modulates homocysteine responses to a folate-rich diet or a low-dose folic acid supplement: a randomized controlled trial

Ashfield-Watt, Pauline A.L., Pullin, Catherine H., Whiting, Jane M., Clark, Zoë E., Moat, Stuart J., Newcombe, Robert G., Burr, Michael L., Lewis, Malcolm J., Powers, Hilary J., McDowell, Ian F.W.
American journal of clinical nutrition 2002 v.76 no.1 pp. 180-186
diet, folic acid, foods, heterozygosity, homocysteine, homozygosity, ingestion, metabolism, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, neural tube defects, randomized clinical trials, risk
Background: Low folate status and elevated plasma homocysteine are associated with increased risk of neural tube defects and cardiovascular disease. Homocysteine responses to folate may be influenced by genetic variants in folate metabolism. Objective: We determined the effect of folate-enhancing dietary interventions on plasma folate and plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) with respect to the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase 677C→T genotype. Design: A total of 126 healthy subjects (42 TT, 42 CT, and 42 CC genotypes) completed 3 dietary interventions (4 mo each) in random order: 1) exclusion diet (avoidance of folic acid–fortified foods and ingestion of a placebo daily), 2) folate-rich diet (increased intake of fortified and naturally folate-rich foods to achieve 400 μg folate/d), and 3) supplement (exclusion diet plus a folate supplement of 400 μg/d). Results: Plasma folate was higher (P ≤ 0.001) and plasma tHcy lower (P ≤ 0.001) after the folate-rich and supplement interventions than after the exclusion diet. Plasma folate was significantly greater after supplementation than after the folate-rich diet, but there was no significant difference in tHcy concentration (P = 0.72). TT homozygotes had higher plasma tHcy (14.5 compared with 8.9 μmol/L, P ≤ 0.001) and lower plasma folate (14.8 compared with 19.0 nmol/L, P ≤ 0.01) than did subjects with the CC genotype after the exclusion diet. CT heterozygotes had intermediate concentrations. The trend toward higher tHcy in TT homozygotes persisted throughout the study but was less marked with increasing folate intake (TT compared with CC after supplementation, P = 0.097). Conclusions: A folate-rich diet including folic acid–fortified foods or low-dose supplements effectively increases folate status. TT homozygotes require higher folate intakes than do individuals with the CT or CC genotype to achieve similar tHcy concentrations but are responsive to folate intervention.