Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Discover How A Key Dietary Vitamin Is Absorbed

Date:
December 1, 2006
Source:
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Summary:
Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have found the mechanism by which the B vitamin folate -- a crucially important nutrient -- is absorbed by the intestinal tract. Their findings solve a longstanding mystery as to how folates in the diet are absorbed and pave the way for a genetic test that can save the lives of infants who lack the ability to absorb folate.

Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have found the mechanism by which the B vitamin folate--a crucially important nutrient--is absorbed by the intestinal tract. Their findings, published in the December 1 issue of the journal Cell, solve a longstanding mystery as to how folates in the diet are absorbed and pave the way for a genetic test that can save the lives of infants who lack the ability to absorb folate.

"We can't live without folate," says Dr. I. David Goldman, the study's senior author and director of the Albert Einstein Cancer Center. "Adequate folate in our diet --and our small intestine's ability to absorb it -- are crucial for synthesizing DNA and other important constituents of our bodies. Folate deficiency in the developing embryo can cause developmental nervous-system defects such as spina bifida. After birth, infants with folate deficiency can experience anemia, immune deficiency with severe infections, and neurological defects such as seizures and mental retardation. And in adults, folate deficiency has been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers."

A water-soluble vitamin such as folate can't readily penetrate the fatty membrane of cells. It needs a specialized uptake mechanism so it can be absorbed by intestinal cells and ultimately enter the bloodstream. The Einstein researchers identified the membrane protein, dubbed PCFT/HCP1, that transports folate molecules from the small intestine's acidic milieu into intestinal cells. A study published last year aroused considerable scientific fanfare when it reported that this protein ferried heme linked to iron (which becomes hemoglobin when coupled with the protein globin) into intestinal cells. But the Einstein study shows that folate transport is the primary function of this protein.

The Einstein study also showed that a mutation in the PCFT/HCP1 gene is responsible for hereditary folate malabsorption, a rare but potentially fatal disorder. Infants born with this condition must be treated with high doses of folate to prevent severe anemia and neurological problems that can be fatal or cause irreversible damage. The researchers made the link between mutations in the folate transporter gene and hereditary folate malabsorption by studying a Puerto Rican family in which two children were affected by the condition.

"Families at risk for hereditary folate malabsorption now have a genetic test that can quickly detect this condition before birth or in their newborns," says Dr. Goldman. "Rapid diagnosis of this disease will insure that these infants will be started on folate supplementation as soon as possible after birth."

Other Einstein scientists involved in the research were Andong Qiu (the first author of the study), Michaela Jansen, Antoinette Sakaris, Sang Hee Min, Shrikanta Chattopadhyay, Eugenia Tsai and Rongbao Zhao. Dr. Claudio Sandoval of New York Medical College also contributed to the research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "Researchers Discover How A Key Dietary Vitamin Is Absorbed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 December 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061130191430.htm>.
Albert Einstein College of Medicine. (2006, December 1). Researchers Discover How A Key Dietary Vitamin Is Absorbed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061130191430.htm
Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "Researchers Discover How A Key Dietary Vitamin Is Absorbed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061130191430.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) British researchers were able to use Mount Everest's low altitudes to study insulin resistance. They hope to find ways to treat diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Carpenter's Injury Leads To Hundreds Of 3-D-Printed Hands

Carpenter's Injury Leads To Hundreds Of 3-D-Printed Hands

Newsy (Apr. 14, 2014) Richard van As lost all fingers on his right hand in a woodworking accident. Now, he's used the incident to create a prosthetic to help hundreds. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins