Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase C677T Polymorphism, Folic Acid and Riboflavin Are Important Determinants of Genome Stability in Cultured Human Lymphocytes

Michiyo Kimura, Keizo Umegaki, Mitsuru Higuchi, Philip Thomas, Michael Fenech

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We tested the hypothesis that methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) C677T polymorphism, folic acid deficiency and riboflavin deficiency, independently or interactively, are important determinants of genomic stability, cell death, cell proliferation and homocysteine (Hcy) concentration in 9-d human lymphocyte cultures. Lymphocytes of seven wild-type (CC) and seven mutant (TT) homozygotes were cultured under the four possible combinations of deficiency and sufficiency of riboflavin (0 and 500 nmol/L) and folic acid (20 and 100 nmol/L) at a constant L-methionine concentration of 50 μmol/L. Viable cell growth was 25% greater in TT than in CC cells (P < 0.05) and 32% greater at 100 nmol/L folic acid than at 20 nmol/L folic acid (P = 0.002). The comprehensive cytokinesis-block micronucleus assay was used to measure micronuclei (MNi; a marker for chromosome breakage and loss), nucleoplasmic bridges (NPB; a marker of chromosome rearrangement) and nuclear buds (NBUD, a marker of gene amplification). The MNi levels were 21% higher in TT cells than in CC cells (P < 0.05) and 42% lower in the high folic acid medium than in the low folic acid medium (P < 0.0001). The NBUD levels were 27% lower in TT cells than in CC cells (P < 0.05) and 45% lower in the high folic acid medium than in the low folic acid medium (P < 0.0001). High riboflavin concentration (500 nmol/L) increased NBUD levels by 25% (compared with 0 nmol/L riboflavin) in folate-deficient conditions (20 nmol/L folic acid medium; P < 0.05), and there was an interaction between folic acid and riboflavin that affected NBUD levels (P = 0.042). This preliminary investigation suggests that MTHFR C677T polymorphism and riboflavin affect genome instability; however, the effect is relatively small compared with that of folic acid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-56
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Jan
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science

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