Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (MTHFR) Thermolabile Variant, DNA Analysis

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Overview
Changes in the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene can lead to certain health conditions. One of them is hyperhomocysteinemia (high blood levels of homocysteine) which is a risk factor for cerebrovascular disease, cerebral vein thrombosis, coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction, and venous thrombosis. At least 40 mutations in the MTHFR gene have been identified in people with homocystinuria, a disorder in which the body is unable to process certain amino acids properly.

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 What is the official name of the MTHFR gene?

The official name of this gene is “methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (NAD(P)H).”

MTHFR is the gene's official symbol. The MTHFR gene is also known by other names, listed below.

What is the normal function of the MTHFR gene?

The MTHFR gene provides instructions for making an enzyme called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. This enzyme plays a role in processing amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase is important for a chemical reaction involving forms of the vitamin folate (also called vitamin B9). Specifically, this enzyme converts a molecule called 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate to a molecule called 5-methyltetrahydrofolate. This reaction is required for the multistep process that converts the amino acid homocysteine to another amino acid, methionine. The body uses methionine to make proteins and other important compounds.

How are changes in the MTHFR gene related to health conditions?

Hyperhomocysteinemia (high blood levels of homocysteine) is a risk factor for cerebrovascular disease, cerebral vein thrombosis, coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction, and venous thrombosis. The levels of homocysteine in the serum are influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. One of the genetic factors involves point mutations in the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene

At least 40 mutations in the MTHFR gene have been identified in people with homocystinuria, a disorder in which the body is unable to process certain amino acids properly. Without functional methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, homocysteine cannot be converted to methionine. As a result, homocysteine builds up in the bloodstream, and the amount of methionine is reduced. Some of the excess homocysteine is excreted in urine. Researchers have not determined how altered levels of homocysteine and methionine lead to the various health problems affecting multiple parts of the body in people with homocystinuria.

 

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