MTHFR garners enough attention these days that the gene should run for office. Furthermore, it would have a great career in politics since it is accustomed to being blamed for everything medical under the sun anyway. This time Chinese researchers linked it to Essential Hypertension in a meta-analysis of other studies comparing the risk of high blood pressure in persons with the 677 or 1298 variation and those without the genetic change. A meta-analysis attempts to combine findings from similar but not identical research studies to see if together they point to a clinically important finding. Given the varied results such studies have produced, the researches wanted to determine if together the studies might indicate a connection between MTHFR and high blood pressure.
So what did they find? 677 is apparently guilty while 1298 looks to be innocent. In combining 30 different studies which met their quality criteria, they came up with 5207 persons with MTHFR 677 versus 5383 persons without MTHFR 677. They also looked at 6 studies comparing 1009 persons with MTHFR 1298 versus 994 persons without it. Those persons with two copies of the 677 variation (TT) had a 62% increased risk of hypertension versus those with two normal copies (CC). Keep in mind what these statistics mean. It does not mean that 62% of patients with MTHFR 677 TT have hypertension. Instead persons with MTHFR 677 had a higher rate of hypertension. If 100 out of 1000 persons without the gene variation had hypertension, then 162 out of 1000 persons with MTFHR TT had hypertension. MTHFR 1298 did not show an increased risk.
While MTHFR 677 was implicated in hypertension, thus adding to its criminal record, (though unlikely to hinder its bid for political office) the paper did not attempt to explain how this link occurs. Others have proposed or even presented convincing evidence for how MTHFR influences blood pressure. These include its roles in oxidative stress, inflammation, and nitric oxide production among others. Further research is likely underway to shed further light not only on the links, but also hopefully to discover means of decreasing this increased risk. Exciting times are ahead in this field for patients and the physicians willing to work on the cutting edge of medicine.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.