The role of the folate pathway in pancreatic cancer risk

Background Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer related deaths in the United States. Several dietary factors have been identified that modify pancreatic cancer risk, including low folate levels. In addition to nutrition and lifestyle determinants, folate status may be influenced by genetic factors such as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). In the present study, we investigated the association between folate levels, genetic polymorphisms in genes of the folate pathway, and pancreatic cancer. Methods Serum and red blood cell (RBC) folate levels were measured in pancreatic cancer and control subjects. Genotypes were determined utilizing Taqman probes and SNP frequencies between cases and controls were assessed using Fisher’s exact test. Logistic regression was used to estimate the odds ratio (OR) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) to measure the association between genotypes and pancreatic cancer risk. The association between folate levels and SNP expression was calculated using one-way ANOVA. Results Mean RBC folate levels were significantly lower in pancreatic cancer cases compared to unrelated controls (508.4 ± 215.9 ng/mL vs 588.3 ± 229.2 ng/mL, respectively) whereas serum folate levels were similar. Irrespective of cancer status, several SNPs were found to be associated with altered serum folate concentrations, including the D919G SNP in methionine synthase (MTR), the L474F SNP in serine hydroxymethyl transferase 1 (SHMT1) and the V175M SNP in phosphatidyl ethanolamine methyltransferase (PEMT). Further, the V allele of the A222V SNP and the E allele of the E429A SNP in methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) were associated with low RBC folate levels. Pancreatic cancer risk was found to be significantly lower for the LL allele of the L78R SNP in choline dehydrogenase (CHDH; OR = 0.29; 95% CI 0.12–0.76); however, it was not associated with altered serum or RBC folate levels.

Publication Date:
Feb 23 2018
Date Submitted:
Jul 01 2019
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 Record created 2019-07-01, last modified 2019-08-05

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