Genetic variation in genes of folate metabolism and neural-tube defect risk

Proc Nutr Soc. 2006 May;65(2):204-15. doi: 10.1079/pns2006495.


Neural-tube defects (NTD) are common congenital malformations that can lead to severe disability or even death. Periconceptional supplementation with the B-vitamin folic acid has been demonstrated to prevent 50-70% of NTD cases. Since the identification of the first genetic risk factor of NTD, the C677T single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene, and the observation that elevated plasma homocysteine levels are associated with NTD, research has focused on genetic variation in genes encoding for enzymes of folate metabolism and the closely-related homocysteine metabolism. In the present review relevant SNP in genes that code for enzymes involved in folate transport and uptake, the folate cycles and homocysteine metabolism are summarised and the importance of these SNP discussed in relation to NTD risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Folic Acid / metabolism*
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Homocysteine / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neural Tube Defects / genetics*
  • Neural Tube Defects / prevention & control
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors


  • Homocysteine
  • Folic Acid