Determinants of folate and vitamin B12 plasma levels in the French E3N-EPIC cohort
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Impaired B vitamin status has been identified as a risk factor for major chronic diseases. This study aims at examining the determinants of plasma folate and vitamin B12 concentrations, considering lifestyle factors and MTHFR polymorphisms.
A total of 988 women aged 40–65 years from the French E3N cohort were investigated. Intakes of folate and vitamin B12 were assessed using food frequency questionnaires, and plasma concentrations were measured by microbiological assay. Dietary scores were computed to summarize folate and vitamin B12 dietary sources. MTHFR-C677T and MTHFR-A1298C were determined by Kaspar assay. Pearson’s partial correlation coefficients and multivariable linear regression models were used to assess correlations between main determinants and plasma folate and vitamin B12 levels.
The partial correlation coefficient between dietary intakes and plasma folate was 0.19 (p value <0.001) and 0.08 (p value = 0.008) for vitamin B12. Dietary scores were the main determinant of B vitamin plasma concentrations with a percent change per unit increase of 12.64% (p value <0.001) for folate and 7.6% (p value <0.001) for vitamin B12. Homozygous (T/T) or heterozygous (C/T) women for MTHFR-C677T had lower plasma folate concentrations [C/T: −6.48% (p value = 0.038) and T/T: −15.89% (p value <0.001)] compared to women carrying the C/C genotype. Other determinants of B vitamin plasma concentration include: smoking status for folate, and age and hormone replacement therapy for vitamin B12.
We confirmed previous findings on the role of diet as main determinant of folate and vitamin B12 plasma concentrations. However, the impact of genetic polymorphisms and lifestyle factors on plasma B vitamin concentrations should not be neglected.
KeywordsFolate Vitamin B12 Dietary intake Biomarkers MTHFR polymorphisms
This work was supported by Fondation de France, World Cancer Research Funds (WCRF), Institut National du Cancer (INCA), and La Ligue Nationale contre le Cancer. Jordi de Batlle acknowledges the support of the European Commission FP7 Marie Curie Actions-People-Cofunding of regional, national and international programs (COFUND). The authors thank Deborah Postoly, laboratory technician, for sample processing and genotyping of study samples.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All participants signed an informed consent prior to their inclusion in the study. The study has been approved by the ethics committees of all participating centers and has therefore been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.
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