Homocysteine and Stroke Risk: Modifying Effect of Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase C677T Polymorphism and Folic Acid Intervention

Stroke. 2017 May;48(5):1183-1190. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.116.015324. Epub 2017 Mar 30.


Background and purpose: Elevated blood homocysteine concentration increases the risk of stroke, especially among hypertensive individuals. Homocysteine is largely affected by the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase C677T polymorphism and folate status. Among hypertensive patients, we aimed to test the hypothesis that the association between homocysteine and stroke can be modified by the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase C677T polymorphism and folic acid intervention.

Methods: We analyzed the data of 20 424 hypertensive adults enrolled in the China Stroke Primary Prevention Trial. The participants, first stratified by methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase genotype, were randomly assigned to receive double-blind treatments of 10-mg enalapril and 0.8-mg folic acid or 10-mg enalapril only. The participants were followed up for a median of 4.5 years.

Results: In the control group, baseline log-transformed homocysteine was associated with an increased risk of first stroke among participants with the CC/CT genotype (hazard ratio, 3.1; 1.1-9.2), but not among participants with the TT genotype (hazard ratio, 0.7; 0.2-2.1), indicating a significant gene-homocysteine interaction (P=0.008). In the folic acid intervention group, homocysteine showed no significant effect on stroke regardless of genotype. Consistently, folic acid intervention significantly reduced stroke risk in participants with CC/CT genotypes and high homocysteine levels (tertile 3; hazard ratio, 0.73; 0.55-0.97).

Conclusions: In Chinese hypertensive patients, the effect of homocysteine on the first stroke was significantly modified by the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase C677T genotype and folic acid supplementation. Such information may help to more precisely predict stroke risk and develop folic acid interventions tailored to individual genetic background and nutritional status.

Clinical trial registration: URL: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT00794885.

Keywords: folic acid; homocysteine; methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR); polymorphism, genetic; stroke.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antihypertensive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antihypertensive Agents / pharmacology
  • China / epidemiology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Enalapril / administration & dosage
  • Enalapril / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Folic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Genotype
  • Homocysteine / blood*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension* / blood
  • Hypertension* / drug therapy
  • Hypertension* / epidemiology
  • Hypertension* / genetics
  • Male
  • Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (NADPH2) / genetics*
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Stroke* / blood
  • Stroke* / epidemiology
  • Stroke* / genetics
  • Stroke* / prevention & control
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vitamin B Complex / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin B Complex / pharmacology*


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Homocysteine
  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Enalapril
  • Folic Acid
  • MTHFR protein, human
  • Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (NADPH2)

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00794885