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Pharmacogenomics J. 2004;4(1):66-72.

Role of polymorphisms in MTHFR and MTHFD1 genes in the outcome of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

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Centre de Recherche, Hôpital Sainte-Justine; Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Mère-Enfant, Côte Ste-Catherine, Montréal, Canada.


The central role of 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) and methylenetetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase (MTHFD1) in folate metabolism renders polymorphisms in genes encoding these enzymes potential modulators of therapeutic response to antifolate chemotherapeutics. The analysis of 201 children treated with methotrexate for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) showed that patients with either the MTHFR T677A1298 haplotype or MTHFD1 A1958 variant had a lower probability of event-free survival (EFS) in univariate analysis (hazard ratio (HR)=2.2, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.0-4.7 and 2.8, 95% CI, 1.1-7.3, respectively). Multivariate analysis supported only the role of the MTHFR variant (HR=2.2, 95% CI, 0.9-5.6). However, the association of both genes with ALL outcome appears to be more obvious in the presence of another event-predisposing variant belonging to the same path of drug action. The combined effect of a thymidylate synthase (TS) triple repeat associated with increased TS levels, with either the MTHFR T677A1298 haplotype or MTHFD1 A1958 allele, resulted in a highly significant reduction of EFS (multivariate HR=9.0, 95% CI, 1.9-42.8 and 8.9, 95% CI, 1.8-44.6, respectively). These results reveal the role of gene-gene interactions within a folate pathway, and how they can correlate with relapse probabilities in ALL patients.

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