Gene-environment interactions and the risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia: exploring the role of maternal folate genes and folic Acid fortification

Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2014 Mar;31(2):160-8. doi: 10.3109/08880018.2013.825684. Epub 2013 Oct 2.


Few studies have evaluated the interaction of folic acid fortification and folate metabolic genes on the risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Because folate status is influenced by both intake and genetic variation, the objective of this study was to explore maternal folate metabolic gene-folic acid fortification interactions and the risk of childhood ALL. The study population consisted of 120 ALL case-parent triads recruited from Texas Children's Cancer Center between 2003 and 2010. For this analysis, we focused on 13 maternal single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 5-methyltetrahydrofolate-homocysteine methyltransferase (MTR). Prefortification was defined as delivery before January 1997 and postfortification as delivery in or after January 1997. We used a two-step approach to evaluate gene-environment interactions. First, a case-only approach was used, as this design provides greater power in the assessment of gene-environment interactions compared to other approaches. Second, we confirmed all statistically significant interactions using a log-linear approach among case-parent triads. Only one of 13 interactions evaluated was confirmed in step 2. Specifically, mothers with the minor allele of MTR rs1804742 and who delivered during the prefortification period were at a greater risk of having a child with ALL (OR = 1.54, 95% CI: 0.82-2.88), compared to those mothers who delivered during the postfortification period (OR = 0.81, 95% CI: 0.22-2.99, P for interaction = .03). In one of the few studies to evaluate maternal folate metabolic genotype-folic acid interactions, we found limited evidence that the maternal MTR rs1804742 appeared to interact with higher folic acid levels to influence childhood ALL risk.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate-Homocysteine S-Methyltransferase / genetics*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Gene-Environment Interaction*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / etiology*


  • Folic Acid
  • 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate-Homocysteine S-Methyltransferase