Uptake of 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate and Folic Acid by Mature Red Blood Cells

Nika Cyrus : Chemistry

Mentor: Professor Fernando Viteri, Nutritional Science and Toxicology

Folate deficiency still remains as the primary culprit for childhood mortality, and a major cause of atherosclerosis and cancer. Yet, we lack a precise method for determination of the long-term folate status of patients. The objective of Nika’s project is to develop a more accurate method of quantifying long-term folate status through elucidation of Red Cell Folate kinetics. It is assumed that Red Cell folate (RCF) remains constant in the circulation; nevertheless, erythrocytes are capable of specific uptake of folate, suggesting that RCF is dynamic. Nika will perform experiments in order to develop a kinetic model that incorporates this “dynamic” nature of RCF. The model will be validated by collaborative clinical studies in Mexico. Hopefully, through this exciting collaboration, the results of this research may extend beyond national boundaries and give rise to more accurate methods for quantifying folate status.