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Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2012 Mar;16(3):376-85.

Folate in gastrointestinal health and disease.

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Division of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, School of Medicine, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Agostino Gemelli Hospital, Rome, Italy.



Folate has heterogeneous functions and is involved in several activities in both animal and human body. It is an important constituent of our organism, and its bioavailability is mainly dependent from the correct function of our gastrointestinal tract. Our aim is to describe what happens to folate homeostasis in gastrointestinal health and disease, analyzing the alterations of folate metabolism in some specific conditions of intestinal and liver impairment.


Folate absorption and metabolization involve the small intestine and the liver; in conditions of gastrointestinal tract disease (i.e. celiac disease, liver disease) folate function may be compromised with important consequences on the whole organism. Moreover, folate deficiency may produce gastrointestinal alterations too. For this reason, the gastrointestinal tract could be the responsible but also the victim of folate deficiency.


The presence of folate deficiency should always be assessed in patients with a gastrointestinal disease. Further studies are needed to assess the role of folates in gastrointestinal tract diseases and in other gynecologic, neurologic, psychiatric, cardiovascular, ophthalmic and neoplastic diseases. Folates supplementation could be considered, in the future, as an effective complimentary therapy in several pathologic conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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