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J Diabetes Complications. 2008 Mar-Apr;22(2):119-25. doi: 10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2006.12.002.

MTHFR gene polymorphism is susceptible to diabetic retinopathy but not to diabetic nephropathy in Japanese type 2 diabetic patients.

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Department of Clinical Evaluation of Medicines and Therapeutics, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan.



Previously, we have proposed that methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene polymorphism (C677T) could be a risk factor for diabetic retinopathy. To support our suggestion, we examined in detail the association of MTHFR polymorphism with diabetic retinopathy and nephropathy in Japanese type 2 diabetic patients.


Subjects (n=190) were free of cardiovascular diseases and were not on hemodialysis. Retinopathy was assessed according to fundamental differentiation; nephropathy was determined according to urinary albumin level; and MTHFR genotype was determined by polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism. We also analyzed how hyperglycemia affected these three conditions in 131 patients with glycosylated hemoglobin > or =6.5% and fasting blood sugar > or =110 mg/dl.


The frequency of 677T/677T homozygous subjects with retinopathy was higher than the frequencies of the other two genotypes, and a significant difference was observed in the distribution of the genotypes (677C/677C, 41.9%; 677C/677T, 31.1%; 677T/677T, 61.5%; P<.05). The susceptibility of 677T/677T homozygote to retinopathy approached significance [odds ratio (OR)=2.17; 95% confidence interval (95% CI)=0.87-5.42]. However, in the population with hyperglycemia, the 677T/677T homozygote modified the risk for retinopathy (OR=4.30; 95% CI=1.42-13.1), especially the risk for nonproliferative retinopathy. In contrast, the 677T/677T homozygote did not affect the risk for nephropathy (OR=1.17; 95% CI=0.45-3.05), even in subjects with hyperglycemia (OR=1.50; 95% CI=0.50-4.48).


Our results are highly suggestive of an important role for MTHFR genotype in susceptibility to retinopathy under hyperglycemia, but not to nephropathy. Preventive therapies based on MTHFR polymorphism could delay the onset of retinopathy in type 2 diabetic patients.

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