Papers And Originals

Malabsorption of Folate Polyglutamates in Tropical Sprue

Br Med J 1969; 2 doi: (Published 31 May 1969) Cite this as: Br Med J 1969;2:543
  1. A. V. Hoffbrand,
  2. T. F. Necheles,
  3. N. Maldonado,
  4. E. Horta,
  5. R. Santini


    Malabsorption of folate polyglutamates prepared from yeast has been shown in eight patients with untreated tropical sprue and in three out of six patients receiving therapy for sprue. The absorptive defect for folate polyglutamates among these 14 patients occurred more frequently and in all but one patient more severely than for folic acid.

    Folate polyglutamates, the principal dietary form of folate, probably require deconjugation by the jejunal enzyme, folate conjugase, before absorption. The mean concentration of jejunal folate conjugase of 21 patients with untreated sprue and of 13 patients with sprue receiving therapy were both significantly less than the mean concentration in a control group. Nevertheless, all but five of the 34 patients had jejunal folate concentrations within the control range. There was no correlation in the individual patients between the jejunal folate conjugase concentration measured in vitro and the ability to absorb folate polyglutamates—nine patients having normal jejunal folate conjugase levels despite showing malabsorption of folate polyglutamates.