BackgroundIt has been theorized that folic acid supplementation improves inflammation. However, its proven effects on inflammatory markers are unclear as clinical studies on this topic have produced inconsistent results. To bridge this knowledge gap, this systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) aimed to evaluate the effects of folic acid supplementation on serum concentrations of the inflammatory markers C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α). Methods: To identify eligible RCTs, a systematic search up to April 2021 was completed in PubMed/Medline, Scopus, Web of Science, EMBASE, Cochrane databases, and Google Scholar using relevant keywords. A fix or random-effects model was utilized to estimate the weighted mean difference (WMD) and 95% confidence interval (95% CI). Results: Twelve RCTs were included in the present meta-analysis. The pooled analysis revealed that serum concentrations of CRP (WMD: −0.59 mg/L, 95% CI −0.85 to −0.33, p < 0.001) were significantly reduced following folic acid supplementation compared to placebo, but did not affect serum concentrations of IL-6 (WMD: −0.12, 95% CI −0.95 to 0.72 pg/mL, p = 0.780) or TNF-α (WMD: −0.18, 95% CI −0.86 to 0.49 pg/mL, p = 0.594). The dose–response analysis demonstrated a significant relationship between an elevated dosage of folic acid supplementation and lower CRP concentrations (p = 0.002). Conclusions: We found that folic acid supplementation may improve inflammation by attenuating serum concentrations of CRP but without significant effects on IL-6 and TNF-α. Future RCTs including a larger number of participants and more diverse populations are needed to confirm and expand our findings.
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