Polymorphisms of methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase and other enzymes: metabolic significance, risks and impact on folate requirement

J Nutr. 1999 May;129(5):919-22. doi: 10.1093/jn/129.5.919.


A common genetic polymorphism results from a C-->T substitution in the gene encoding methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR), the enzyme that produces 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-methyl-THF) required for the conversion of homocysteine to methionine. In individuals with the T/T genotype (T/T), functional metabolic effects include changes in one-carbon folate derivatives, elevations in plasma homocysteine and differences in response to folic acid supplementation compared with normal (C/C) or heterozygous (C/T) genotypes. The metabolic changes associated with the T/T genotype are postulated to modify risk for chronic disease (e.g., vascular disease and cancer) and neural tube defects (NTD) when accompanied by folate deficiency. The modulation of these metabolic abnormalities by increasing folate intake suggests that folate requirements may be different in affected individuals (T/T) relative to normal (C/C) or heterozygous (C/T) individuals. The complex interaction between this common genetic polymorphism of MTHFR and folate intake is the focus of intense investigation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Folic Acid*
  • Homocysteine / blood
  • Humans
  • Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (NADPH2)
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neural Tube Defects / genetics
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-NH Group Donors / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Risk Factors
  • Vascular Diseases / genetics


  • Homocysteine
  • Folic Acid
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-NH Group Donors
  • Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (NADPH2)