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Genes Nutr. 2015 Mar;10(2):453. doi: 10.1007/s12263-015-0453-7. Epub 2015 Jan 21.

Single-nucleotide polymorphisms in one-carbon metabolism genes, Mediterranean diet and breast cancer risk: a case-control study in the Greek-Cypriot female population.

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Department of EM/Molecular Pathology, The Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics, Nicosia, Cyprus.


Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within genes of the one-carbon metabolism pathway have been shown to interact with dietary folate intake to modify breast cancer (BC) risk. Our group has previously demonstrated that the Mediterranean dietary pattern, rich in beneficial one-carbon metabolism micronutrients, protects against BC in Greek-Cypriot women. We aimed to investigate whether SNPs in the MTHFR (rs1801133 and rs1801131) and MTR (rs1805087) genes modify the effect of the Mediterranean dietary pattern on BC risk. Dietary intake data were obtained using a 32-item food-frequency questionnaire. A dietary pattern specific to the Greek-Cypriot population, which closely resembles the Mediterranean diet, was derived using principal component analysis (PCA) and used as our dietary variable. Genotyping was performed on subjects from the MASTOS study, a case-control study of BC in Cyprus, using TaqMan assays. Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) were estimated using logistic regression analyses. High adherence to the PCA-derived Mediterranean dietary pattern further reduced BC risk with increasing number of variant MTHFR 677T alleles (ORQ4vs.Q1 for 677TT = 0.37, 95 % CI 0.20-0.69, for 677 CT = 0.60, 95 % CI 0.42-0.86). Additionally, high adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern decreased BC risk in subjects with at least one MTR 2756A allele (ORQ4vs.Q1 for 2756AA = 0.59, 95 % CI 0.43-0.81, for 2756AG = 0.59, 95 % CI 0.39-0.91) and in subjects with the MTHFR 1298CC genotype (ORQ4vs.Q1 0.44, 95 % CI 0.30-0.65). Overall P-interaction values, however, were not statistically significant. Our study suggests that these MTHFR and MTR SNPs may act as effect modifiers, highlighting their biological significance in the association between Mediterranean diet, the one-carbon metabolism pathway and BC.

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