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Polymorphisms in the reduced folate carrier, thymidylate synthase, or methionine synthase and risk of colon cancer

Folate metabolism supports the synthesis of nucleotides as well as the transfer of methyl groups. Polymorphisms in folate-metabolizing enzymes have been shown to affect risk of colorectal neoplasia and other malignancies. Using data from a population-based incident case-control study (1,600 cases and 1,962 controls), we investigated associations between genetic variants in the reduced folate carrier (RFC), thymidylate synthase (TS), methionine synthase (MTR), and 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) and colon cancer risk. The TS enhancer region (TSER) variant was associated with a reduced risk among men [2rpt/2rpt versus 3rpt/3rpt wild-type; odds ratio (OR), 0.7; 95% confidence interval, 0.6-0.98] but not women. When combined genotypes for both TS polymorphisms (TSER and 3′-untranslated region 1494delTTAAAG) were evaluated, ORs for variant genotypes were generally below 1.0, with statistically significantly reduced risks among women. Neither MTR D919G nor RFC 80G>A polymorphisms were associated with altered colon cancer risk. Because folate metabolism is characterized by interrelated reactions, we evaluated gene-gene interactions. Genotypes resulting in reduced MTHFR activity in conjunction with low TS expression were associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. When dietary intakes were taken into account, individuals with at least one variant TSER allele (3rpt/2rpt or 2rpt/2rpt) were at reduced risk in the presence of a low folate intake. This study supports findings from adenoma studies indicating that purine synthesis may be a relevant biological mechanism linking folate metabolism to colon cancer risk. A pathway-based approach to data analysis is needed to help discern the independent and combined effects of dietary intakes and genetic variability in folate metabolism.

Authors: Ulrich CM; Curtin K; Potter JD; Bigler J; Caan B; Slattery ML

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Nov;14(11 Pt 1):2509-16.

PubMed abstract

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