Genetic polymorphisms in folate and homocysteine metabolism as risk factors for DNA damage

Eur J Hum Genet. 2003 Sep;11(9):671-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201024.


Epidemiological studies indicated a role for polymorphisms in genes of folate and homocysteine (Hcy) metabolism in the etiology of neurodegenerative disease, congenital defects and coronary artery disease (CAD). This study investigated the effect of several polymorphisms [C677 T, A1298C of methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) and A66G of methionine synthase reductase (MTRR) genes] on Hcy levels and DNA damage in 68 patients who underwent coronary angiography. Plasma Hcy concentrations were higher in patients with multivessel disease with respect to monovessel disease and no-CAD patients (19.4+/-2.6 vs 11.6+/-1.2 and 13.7+/-1.4 micromol/l, respectively; P=0.03). 677TT patients had higher Hcy levels than those with 677CC or 677CT genotypes (26.2+/-4.3 vs 13.1+/-1.4 and 13.0+/-1.4 micromol/l, respectively; P=0.0006). No significant associations were found between A1298C and A66G polymorphisms and plasma Hcy levels. Among patients with 677CC genotype, 66GG individuals tended to have higher levels of Hcy than 66AA homozygotes (14.5+/-1.9 vs 8.9+/-0.7 micromol/l, P=0.06). Multivessel disease patients showed an increased frequency of DNA damage, measured by the micronucleus (MN) frequency, as compared to monovessel disease and no-CAD subjects (12.5+/-1.1 vs 8.5+/-0.8 and 8.2+/-0.9, respectively; P=0.006). The MN were positively correlated with Hcy levels (r=0.33, P=0.006) and were significantly higher in subjects with the 677TT genotype compared with the 677CC or 677CT genotypes (14.4+/-2.0 vs 8.8+/-1.2 and 9.5+/-0.7, respectively; P=0.006). A1298C and A66G polymorphisms had no effect on MN frequency. However, among 677TT patients, 66GG subjects tended to have higher levels of MN than those 66AG and 66AA (18.2+/-3.6 vs 13.8+/-4.0 and 10.3+/-1.7, respectively; P=NS). Our results indicate that genetic instability may be associated with increased risk for multiple Hcy-related diseases.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Coronary Artery Disease / genetics
  • DNA Damage / genetics*
  • DNA Primers
  • Female
  • Ferredoxin-NADP Reductase / genetics*
  • Heredodegenerative Disorders, Nervous System / genetics
  • Homocysteine / blood
  • Homocysteine / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Lymphocytes
  • Male
  • Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (NADPH2) / genetics*
  • Models, Biological
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*


  • DNA Primers
  • Homocysteine
  • methionine synthase reductase
  • Ferredoxin-NADP Reductase
  • Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (NADPH2)