One-Carbon (Folate) Metabolism Pathway at Birth and Risk of Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: A Biomarker Study in Newborns

Catherine Metayer, Partow Imani, Sandrine Dudoit, Libby Morimoto, Xiaomei Ma, Joseph L. Wiemels, Lauren M. Petrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Leukemia is the most common cancer in children in industrialized countries, and its initiation often occurs prenatally. Folic acid is a key vitamin in the production and modification of DNA, and prenatal folic acid intake is known to reduce the risk of childhood leukemia. We characterized the one-carbon (folate) metabolism nutrients that may influence risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) among 122 cases diagnosed at age 0–14 years during 1988–2011 and 122 controls matched on sex, age, and race/ethnicity. Using hydrophilic interaction chromatography (HILIC) applied to neonatal dried blood spots, we evaluated 11 folate pathway metabolites, overall and by sex, race/ethnicity, and age at diagnosis. To conduct the prediction analyses, the 244 samples were separated into learning (75%) and test (25%) sets, maintaining the matched pairings. The learning set was used to train classification methods which were evaluated on the test set. High classification error rates indicate that the folate pathway metabolites measured have little predictive capacity for pediatric ALL. In conclusion, the one-carbon metabolism nutrients measured at birth were unable to predict subsequent leukemia in children. These negative findings are reflective of the last weeks of pregnancy and our study does not address the impact of these nutrients at the time of conception or during the first trimester of pregnancy that are critical for the embryo’s DNA methylation programming.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1011
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • B-vitamins
  • childhood leukemia
  • folate
  • metabolomics
  • newborn


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