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J Neurotrauma. 2011 Sep;28(9):1739-45. doi: 10.1089/neu.2011.1982. Epub 2011 Sep 6.

MTHFR C677T genotype as a risk factor for epilepsy including post-traumatic epilepsy in a representative military cohort.

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Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, Maryland 20814, USA.


The well-studied C677T variant in the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) enzyme is a biologically plausible genetic risk factor for seizures or epilepsy. First, plasma/serum levels of homocysteine, a pro-convulsant, are moderately elevated in individuals with the homozygote TT genotype. Furthermore, the TT genotype has been previously linked with migraine with aura-a comorbid condition-and with alcohol withdrawal seizures. Finally, several small studies have suggested that the TT genotype may be overrepresented in epilepsy patients. In this study, we consider whether the MTHFR C677T or A1298C variants are associated with risk of epilepsy including post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE) in a representative military cohort. Study subjects were selected from the cohort of military personnel on active duty during the years 2003 through 2007 who had archived serum samples at the DoD Serum Repository, essentially all active duty personnel during this time frame. We randomly selected 800 epilepsy patients and 800 matched controls based on ICD-9-CM diagnostic codes. We were able to isolate sufficient genetic material from the archived sera to genotype approximately 85% of our study subjects. The odds of epilepsy were increased in subjects with the TT versus CC genotype (crude OR=1.52 [1.04-2.22], p=0.031; adjusted OR=1.57 [1.07-2.32], p=0.023). In our sensitivity analysis, risk was most evident for patients with repeated rather than single medical encounters for epilepsy (crude OR=1.85 [1.14-2.97], p=0.011, adjusted OR=1.95 [1.19-3.19], p=0.008), and particularly for PTE (crude OR=3.14 [1.41-6.99], p=0.005; adjusted OR=2.55 [1.12-5.80], p=0.026). Our early results suggest a role for the common MTHFR C677T variant as a predisposing factors for epilepsy including PTE. Further exploration of baseline homocysteine and folate levels as predictors of seizure risk following traumatic brain injury is warranted.

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