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J Oncol. 2012;2012:105949. doi: 10.1155/2012/105949. Epub 2012 Oct 9.

Folate and colorectal cancer in rodents: a model of DNA repair deficiency.

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Department of Nutrition and Food Science, Wayne State University, 410 W. Warren, 2018 Science Hall, Detroit, MI 48202, USA.


Fortification of grains has resulted in a positive public health outcome vis-a-vis reduced incidence of neural tube defects. Whether folate has a correspondingly beneficial effect on other disease outcomes is less clear. A role for dietary folate in the prevention of colorectal cancer has been established through epidemiological data. Experimental data aiming to further elucidate this relationship has been somewhat equivocal. Studies report that folate depletion increases DNA damage, mutagenesis, and chromosomal instability, all suggesting inhibited DNA repair. While these data connecting folate depletion and inhibition of DNA repair are convincing, we also present data demonstrating that genetic inhibition of DNA repair is protective in the development of preneoplastic colon lesions, both when folate is depleted and when it is not. The purpose of this paper is to (1) give an overview of the data demonstrating a DNA repair defect in response to folate depletion, and (2) critically compare and contrast the experimental designs utilized in folate/colorectal cancer research and the corresponding impact on tissue folate status and critical colorectal cancer endpoints. Our analysis suggests that there is still an important need for a comprehensive evaluation of the impact of differential dietary prescriptions on blood and tissue folate status.

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