Biomarkers Related to One-Carbon Metabolism as Potential Risk Factors for Distal Colorectal Adenomas

S. de Vogel, J. Schneede, P.M. Ueland, S.E. Vollset, K. Meyer, A. Fredriksen, O. Midttun, T. Bjorge, E. Kampman, M. Bretthauer, G. Hoff

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35 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Efficient one-carbon metabolism, which requires adequate supply of methyl group donors and B-vitamins, may protect against colorectal carcinogenesis. However, plasma folate and vitamins B2 and B12 have inconsistently been associated with colorectal cancer risk, and there have been no previous studies relating plasma concentrations of methionine, choline, and betaine to this outcome. Methods: This study comprised 10,601 individuals, 50 to 64 years of age, participating in the Norwegian Colorectal Cancer Prevention (NORCCAP) screening study. Using logistic regression analyses, we cross-sectionally investigated associations between distal colorectal adenoma occurrence-potential precursor lesions of colorectal carcinomas-and plasma concentrations of methyl group donors and B-vitamins, and polymorphisms of genes related to one-carbon metabolism. Results: Screening revealed 1,809 subjects (17.1%) with at least one adenoma. The occurrence of high-risk adenomas (observed in 421 subjects) was inversely associated with plasma concentrations of methionine (highest versus lowest quartile: odds ratio (OR) = 0.61; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.45-0.83), betaine: OR = 0.74; 95% CI = 0.54-1.02, the vitamin B2 form flavin-mononucleotide (FMN): OR = 0.65; 95% CI = 0.49-0.88, and the vitamin B6 form pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (PLP): OR = 0.69; 95% CI = 0.51-0.95, but not with folate, choline, vitamin B12 concentrations, or with the studied polymorphisms. High methionine concentration in combination with high vitamin B2 or B6 concentrations was associated with lower occurrence of high-risk adenomas compared with these factors individually. Conclusions: High plasma concentrations of methionine and betaine, and vitamins B2 and B6 may reduce risk of developing colorectal adenomas. Impact: In addition to B-vitamins, methyl group donors such as methionine and betaine may play a role in colorectal carcinogenesis. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 20(8); 1726-35. (C)2011 AACR.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1726-1735
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • nested case-control
  • methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase polymorphism
  • island methylator phenotype
  • tandem mass-spectrometry
  • cancer risk
  • plasma folate
  • b-vitamins
  • microbiological assay
  • genetic polymorphisms
  • asymptomatic adults


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