Bacterial folate biosynthesis and colorectal cancer risk: more than just a gut feeling

D.E.G. Kok*, W.T. Steegenga, E.J. Smid, E.G. Zoetendal, C.M. Ulrich, E. Kampman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Folate is a B-vitamin with an important role in health and disease. The optimal folate status with regard to human health remains controversial. A low intake of natural folate as well as excessive intake of synthetic folic acid, were previously linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer or with aberrant molecular pathways related to carcinogenesis in some studies. Importantly, most studies conducted so far, solely focused on dietary intake or circulating levels of folate in relation to cancer risk. Notably, diet or dietary supplements are not the only sources of folate. Several bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract can synthesize B-vitamins, including folate, in quantities that resemble dietary intake. The impact of bacterial folate biosynthesis concerning human health and disease remains unexplored. This review highlights current insights into folate biosynthesis by intestinal bacteria and its implications for processes relevant to cancer development, such as epigenetic DNA modifications and DNA synthesis. Moreover, we will reflect on the emerging question whether food-grade or intestinal bacteria can be considered a potential target to ensure sufficient levels of folate in the gastrointestinal tract and, hence the relevance of bacterial folate biosynthesis for disease prevention or treatment.

Keywords: Folate, biosynthesis, colon, intestinal bacteria, colorectal cancer, DNA methylation, one-carbon metabolism
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-256
Number of pages12
JournalCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Volume60
Issue number2
Early online date3 Dec 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

Keywords

  • Folate, biosynthesis, colon, intestinal bacteria, colorectal cancer, DNA methylation, one-carbon metabolism

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