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J Nutr. 2012 Aug;142(8):1403-9. doi: 10.3945/jn.112.160549. Epub 2012 Jun 13.

Rare allelic variants determine folate status in an unsupplemented European population.

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Department of Medical Informatics, Institute of Computer Science of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic.


The role of folates as coenzymes in 1-carbon metabolism and the clinical consequences of disturbed folate metabolism are widely known. Folate status is a complex trait determined by both exogenous and endogenous factors. This study analyzed the association between 12 genetic variants and folate status in a Czech population with no folate fortification program. These 12 genetic variants were selected from 56 variant alleles found by resequencing the coding sequences and adjacent intronic regions of 6 candidate genes involved in folate metabolism or transport (FOLR1, FOLR2, FOLR3, MTHFR, PCFT, and RFC) from 29 individuals with low plasma and erythrocyte folate concentrations. Regression analyses of a cohort of 511 Czech controls not taking folate supplements revealed that only 2 variants in the MTHFR gene were associated with altered folate concentrations in plasma and/or erythrocytes. In our previous study, we observed that the common variant MTHFR c.665C > T (known as c.677C > T; p.A222V) was associated with decreased plasma folate concentrations. In the present study, we show in addition that the rare variant MTHFR c.1958C > T (p.T653M) is associated with significantly increased erythrocyte folate concentrations (P = 0.02). Multivariate regression analysis revealed that this uncommon variant, which is present in 2% of Czech control chromosomes, explains 0.9% of the total variability of erythrocyte folate concentrations; the magnitude of this effect size was comparable with that of the common MTHFR c.665C > T variant. This result indicates that the rare genetic variants may determine folate status to a similar extent as the common allelic variant.

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