Journal Article

<i>COMT</i> genotype, micronutrients in the folate metabolic pathway and breast cancer risk

Julie E. Goodman, Jackie A. Lavigne, Kana Wu, Kathy J. Helzlsouer, Paul T. Strickland, Jacob Selhub and James D. Yager

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 22, issue 10, pages 1661-1665
Published in print October 2001 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online October 2001 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI:
COMT genotype, micronutrients in the folate metabolic pathway and breast cancer risk

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Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) catalyzes the O-methylation of catechol estrogens (CEs), using S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) as a methyl donor. Several studies have indicated that the val108met COMT polymorphism, which results in a 3–4-fold decrease in activity, is associated with increased breast cancer risk. Folate, whose intake levels have also been associated with breast cancer risk, and other micronutrients in the folate metabolic pathway influence levels of SAM and S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH), a COMT inhibitor generated by the demethylation of SAM. Because these micronutrients have been shown to alter SAM and SAH levels, we hypothesized that they could also affect COMT-catalyzed CE methylation. Although measurements of SAM and SAH were not initially collected, a secondary analysis of data from two nested case-control studies was performed to examine whether serum levels of folate, vitamin B12 (B12), pyridoxal 5′-phosphate (PLP), cysteine and homocysteine, in conjunction with COMT genotype, were associated with breast cancer risk. COMTHH (high activity COMT homozygote) breast cancer cases had statistically significantly lower levels of homocysteine (P = 0.05) and cysteine (P = 0.04) and higher levels of PLP (P = 0.02) than COMTHH controls. In contrast, COMTLL (low activity COMT homozygote) cases had higher levels of homocysteine than COMTLL controls (P = 0.05). No associations were seen between B12, COMT genotype, and breast cancer risk. An increasing number of COMTL alleles was significantly associated with increased breast cancer risk in women with below median levels of folate (Ptrend = 0.05) or above median levels of homocysteine (Ptrend = 0.02). These findings are consistent with a role for certain folate pathway micronutrients in mediating the association between COMT genotype and breast cancer risk.

Keywords: B12, vitamin B12; CE, catechol estrogen; CI, confidence interval; COMT, catechol-O-methyltransferase; COMTL, low activity COMT allele; COMTH, high activity COMT allele; OR, odds ratio; PLP, pyridoxal 5′-phosphate; PCR–RFLP, polymerase chain reaction–restriction fragment length polymorphism; SAH, S-adenosylhomocysteine; SAM, S-adenosylmethionine.

Journal Article.  3816 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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