Folate pathway polymorphisms predict deficits in attention and processing speed after childhood leukemia therapy

Kala Y. Kamdar, Kevin R. Krull, Randa El-Zein, Pim Brouwers, Brian S. Potter, Lynnette L. Harris, Suzanne Holm, Zoann Dreyer, Fernando Scaglia, Carol J. Etzel, Melissa Bondy, M. Fatih Okcu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Background: Neurocognitive impairment occurs in 20-40% of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) survivors, possibly mediated by folate depletion and homocysteine elevation following methotrexate treatment. We evaluated the relationship between folate pathway polymorphisms and neurocognitive impairment after childhood ALL chemotherapy. Procedure: Seventy-two childhood ALL survivors treated with chemotherapy alone underwent a neurocognitive battery consisting of: Trail Making Tests A (TMTA) and B (TMTB), Grooved Pegboard Test Dominant-Hand and Nondominant-Hand, Digit Span subtest, and Verbal Fluency Test. We performed genotyping for: 10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR 677C>T and MTHFR 1298A>C), serine hydroxymethyltransferase (SHMT 1420C>T), methionine synthase (MS 2756 A>G), methionine synthase reductase (MTRR 66A>G), and thymidylate synthase (TSER). Student's two sample t-test and analysis of covariance were used to compare test scores by genotype. Results: General impairment on the neurocognitive battery was related to MTHFR 1298A>C (P=0.03) and MS 2756A>G (P=0.05). Specifically, survivors with MTHFR 1298AC/CC genotypes scored, on average, 13 points lower on TMTB than those with MTHFR 1298AA genotype (P=0.001). The MS 2756AA genotype was associated with a 12.2 point lower mean TMTA score, compared to MS 2756 AG/GG genotypes (P=0.01). The TSER 2R/3R and 3R/3R genotypes were associated with an 11.4 point lower mean score on TMTB, compared to the TSER 2R/2R genotype (P=0.03). Survivors with ≥6 folate pathway risk alleles demonstrated a 9.5 point lower mean TMTA score (P=0.06) and 14.5 point lower TMTB score (P=0.002) than survivors with <6 risk alleles. Conclusions: Folate pathway polymorphisms are associated with deficits in attention and processing speed after childhood ALL therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)454-460
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric Blood and Cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Folate
  • Leukemia
  • Neurocognitive
  • Survivor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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