Polymorphisms in genes involved in folate metabolism may modulate the risk of colorectal cancer (CRC), but data from published studies are conflicting. The current meta-analysis was performed to address a more accurate estimation. A total of 41 (17,552 cases and 26,238 controls), 24(8,263 cases and 12,033 controls), 12(3,758 cases and 5,646 controls), and 13 (5,511 cases and 7,265 controls) studies were finally included for the association between methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) C677T and A1289C, methione synthase reductase (MTRR) A66G, methionine synthase (MTR) A2756G polymorphisms and the risk of CRC, respectively. The data showed that the MTHFR 677T allele was significantly associated with reduced risk of CRC (OR = 0.93, 95%CI 0.90-0.96), while the MTRR 66G allele was significantly associated with increased risk of CRC (OR = 1.11, 95%CI 1.01-1.18). Sub-group analysis by ethnicity revealed that MTHFR C677T polymorphism was significantly associated with reduced risk of CRC in Asians (OR = 0.80, 95%CI 0.72-0.89) and Caucasians (OR = 0.84, 95%CI 0.76-0.93) in recessive genetic model, while the MTRR 66GG genotype was found to significantly increase the risk of CRC in Caucasians (GG vs. AA: OR = 1.18, 95%CI 1.03-1.36). No significant association was found between MTHFR A1298C and MTR A2756G polymorphisms and the risk of CRC. Cumulative meta-analysis showed no particular time trend existed in the summary estimate. Probability of publication bias was low across all comparisons illustrated by the funnel plots and Egger's test. Collectively, this meta-analysis suggested that MTHFR 677T allele might provide protection against CRC in worldwide populations, while MTRR 66G allele might increase the risk of CRC in Caucasians. Since potential confounders could not be ruled out completely, further studies were needed to confirm these results.
Keywords: Colorectal cancer; Folate.; Methione synthase reductase; Methionine synthase; Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase.