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Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) controls intracellular CH2FH4 concentrations (required for optimal fluoropyrimidine efficacy) by irreversibly converting CH2FH4 into 5-methyltetrahydrofolate. MTHFR 677C>T and 1298A>C polymorphisms are linked to altered enzyme activity. Thus, mutated MTHFR tumours should, in theory, be more sensitive to 5-fluorouracil (5FU) than wild-type tumours. MTHFR polymorphisms in position 677 and 1298 were analysed in 98 colorectal cancer patients with unresectable liver metastases (57 men, 41 women, mean age 64 years) receiving 5FU-folinic acid. 677C>T and 1298A>C genotypes were determined simultaneously by melting curve analyses on liver metastases. 677C>T genotype distribution was 46.9% wt/wt, 34.7% wt/mut and 18.4% mut/mut; that of 1298A>C was 52.0% wt/wt, 35.7% wt/mut and 12.3% mut/mut. The response rate was not related to 1298A>C genotype but was significantly linked to 677C>T genotype (response rate: 40%, 21% and 56% in wt/wt, wt/mut and mut/mut, respectively; P = 0.040), with an increased response rate in mut/mut tumours relative to wt/wt (odds ratio = 1.88). Thymidylate synthase activity measured in metastases was a significant predictor of 5FU responsiveness and the addition of the 677C>T genotype improved model prediction. MTHFR 1298A>C polymorphism was significantly linked to specific survival, with homozygous mutated patients having the worst prognosis (P = 0.009, relative risk = 2.48 in mut/mut versus wt/wt). MTHFR 1298A>C genotype remained a significant predictor in a multivariate analysis including metastasis characteristics. The results suggest that MTHFR genotypes are relevant and independent factors of patient outcome in 5FU-based treatment of advanced colorectal cancer.

(C) 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.