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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2004

The binding of folic acid and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate to folate-binding proteins during gastric passage differs in a dynamic in vitro gastrointestinal model

Verwei M, Arkbage K, Mocking H, Havenaar R, Groten J


Despite its low natural folate concentration, milk is responsible for 10-15% of the daily folate intake in countries with a high dairy consumption. Milk products can be considered as a potential matrix for folate fortification, e.g., with synthetic folic acid, to enhance the daily intake of folate. In untreated milk, the natural folate, 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-CH3-H(4)folate), is bound to folate-binding proteins (FBP). In this study, the extent of binding to FBP for folic acid and 5-CH3-H(4)folate was investigated in a dynamic in vitro model simulating human gastric passage. Protein binding of folic acid and 5-CH3-H(4)folate was characterized using gel-exclusion chromatography. Before gastric passage, folic acid and 5-CH3-H(4)folate were bound mainly to FBP (76-79%), whereas 7% was free. Folic acid remained bound to FBP to a similar extent after gastric passage. For 5-CH3-H(4)folate, the FBP-bound fraction gradually decreased from 79 to 5% and the free fraction increased from 7 to 93%. Although folic acid enters the proximal part of the intestine bound to FBP, 5-CH3-H(4)folate appears to be present mainly as free folate in the duodenal lumen. The stability of FBP was similar in both folate/FBP mixtures, i.e., 70% of the initial FBP content was retained after gastric passage. This study indicated that FBP are partly stable during gastric passage but have different binding characteristics for folic acid and 5-CH3-H(4)folate in the duodenal lumen. This could result in different bioavailability from folic acid- and 5-CH3-H(4)folate-fortified milk products


folate-binding protein; 5-methyltetrahydrofolate; folic acid; gastric passage

Published in

Journal of Nutrition
2004, Volume: 134, number: 1, pages: 31-37

    SLU Authors

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Food Science

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