Effects of polymorphisms of methionine synthase and methionine synthase reductase on total plasma homocysteine in the NHLBI Family Heart Study

Atherosclerosis. 2003 Jan;166(1):49-55. doi: 10.1016/s0021-9150(02)00204-6.


The metabolism of homocysteine requires contributions of several enzymes and vitamin cofactors. Earlier studies identified a common polymorphism of methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase that was associated with mild hyperhomocysteinemia. Common variants of two other enzymes involved in homocysteine metabolism, methionine synthase and methionine synthase reductase, have also been identified. Methionine synthase catalyzes the remethylation of homocysteine to form methionine and methionine synthase reductase is required for the reductive activation of the cobalamin-dependent methionine synthase. The methionine synthase gene (MTR) mutation is an A to G substitution, 2756A-->G, which converts an aspartate to a glycine codon. The methionine synthase reductase gene (MTRR) mutation is an A to G substitution, 66A-->G, that converts an isoleucine to a methionine residue. To determine if these polymorphisms were associated with mild hyperhomocysteinemia, we investigated subjects from two of the NHLBI Family Heart Study field centers, Framingham and Utah. Total plasma homocysteine concentrations were determined after an overnight fast and after a 4-h methionine load test. MTR and MTRR genotype data were available for 677 and 562 subjects, respectively. The geometric mean fasting homocysteine was unrelated to the MTR or MTRR genotype categories (AA, AG, GG). After a methionine load, a weak positive association was observed between change in homocysteine after a methionine load and the number of mutant MTR alleles (P-trend=0.04), but this association was not statistically significant according to the overall F-statistic (P=0.12). There was no significant interaction between MTR and MTRR genotype or between these genotypes and any of the vitamins with respect to homocysteine concentrations. This study provides no evidence that these common MTR and MTRR mutations are associated with alterations in plasma homocysteine.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate-Homocysteine S-Methyltransferase / genetics*
  • 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate-Homocysteine S-Methyltransferase / metabolism
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Ferredoxin-NADP Reductase / genetics*
  • Ferredoxin-NADP Reductase / metabolism
  • Genotype
  • Homocysteine / blood*
  • Humans
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia / genetics*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Genetic


  • Homocysteine
  • methionine synthase reductase
  • Ferredoxin-NADP Reductase
  • 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate-Homocysteine S-Methyltransferase