Folate and DNA Methylation: A Review of Molecular Mechanisms and the Evidence for Folate's Role1,2

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Abstract

DNA methylation is an epigenetic modification critical to normal genome regulation and development. The vitamin folate is a key source of the one carbon group used to methylate DNA. Because normal mammalian development is dependent on DNA methylation, there is enormous interest in assessing the potential for changes in folate intake to modulate DNA methylation both as a biomarker for folate status and as a mechanistic link to developmental disorders and chronic diseases including cancer. This review highlights the role of DNA methylation in normal genome function, how it can be altered, and the evidence of the role of folate/folic acid in these processes. Adv. Nutr. 3: 21-38, 2012.

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