Past analyses examining the relationship between genetic variation in the 5, 10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene and psychiatric disorders have provided mixed and largely inconclusive findings. MTHFR is involved in the one-carbon metabolic pathway which is essential for DNA biosynthesis and the epigenetic process of DNA methylation. We conducted a meta-analysis of all published case-control studies investigating associations between two common MTHFR single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), MTHFR C677T (sample size 29,502) and A1298C (sample size 7934), and the major psychiatric disorders (i) schizophrenia (SZ), (ii) bipolar disorder (BPD), and (iii) unipolar depressive disorder (UDD). In order to examine possible shared genetic vulnerability, we also tested for associations between MTHFR and all of these major psychiatric disorders (SZ, BPD and UDD) combined. MTHFR C677T was significantly associated with all of the combined psychiatric disorders (SZ, BPD and UDD); random effects odds ratio (OR)=1.26 for TT versus CC genotype carriers; confidence interval (CI) 1.09-1.46); meta-regression did not suggest moderating effects of psychiatric diagnosis, sex, ethnic group or year of publication. Although MTHFR A1298C was not significantly associated with the combination of major psychiatric disorders, nor with SZ, there was evidence for diagnostic moderation indicating a significant association with BPD (random effects OR=2.03 for AA versus CC genotype carriers, CI: 1.07-3.86). Meta-analysis on UDD was not possible due to the small number of studies available. This study provides evidence for shared genetic vulnerability for SZ, BPD and UDD mediated by MTHFR 677TT genotype, which is in line with epigenetic involvement in the pathophysiology of these psychiatric disorders.
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