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A bacterial route for folic acid supplementation

Overview of attention for article published in BMC Biology, June 2018
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 25% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (84th percentile)

Mentioned by

26 tweeters


15 Dimensions

Readers on

67 Mendeley
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A bacterial route for folic acid supplementation
Published in
BMC Biology, June 2018
DOI 10.1186/s12915-018-0534-3
Pubmed ID

Claire Maynard, Ian Cummins, Jacalyn Green, David Weinkove


To prevent folate deficiencies, many countries supplement various foodstuffs with folic acid. This compound is a synthetic oxidised folate that differs from naturally occurring reduced folates in its metabolism and uptake. Notably, safety reviews of folic acid supplementation have not considered interactions with gut bacteria. Here, we use the Caenorhabditis elegans - Escherichia coli animal- microbe model to examine a possible bacterial route for folic acid uptake. It has been assumed that supplements are taken up directly by the worm, especially because E. coli is unable to take up folates. However, E. coli, like many other bacteria, can transport the folate breakdown product, para-aminobenzoate-glutamate (PABA-glu), via AbgT and use it for bacterial folate synthesis. This pathway may impact host health because inhibition of bacterial folate synthesis increases C. elegans lifespan. Folic acid supplementation was found to rescue a C. elegans developmental folate-deficient mutant; however, a much higher concentration was required compared to folinic acid, a reduced folate. Unlike folinic acid, the effectiveness of folic acid supplementation was dependent on the E. coli gene, abgT, suggesting a bacterial route with PABA-glu uptake by E. coli as a first step. Surprisingly, we found up to 4% PABA-glu in folic acid preparations, including in a commercial supplement. Via breakdown to PABA-glu, folic acid increases E. coli folate synthesis. This pathway restores folate synthesis in a bacterial mutant defective in PABA synthesis, reversing the ability of this mutant to increase C. elegans lifespan. Folic acid supplementation in C. elegans occurs chiefly indirectly via bacterial uptake of breakdown products via E. coli AbgT, and can impact C. elegans development and longevity. Examining how folic acid supplementation affects bacterial folate synthesis in the human gut may help us to better understand the safety of folic acid supplementation.

Twitter Demographics

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Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 67 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 67 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Bachelor 14 21%
Student > Ph. D. Student 13 19%
Researcher 10 15%
Student > Master 5 7%
Other 2 3%
Other 5 7%
Unknown 18 27%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 16 24%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 12 18%
Medicine and Dentistry 8 12%
Engineering 3 4%
Immunology and Microbiology 3 4%
Other 7 10%
Unknown 18 27%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 14. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 06 March 2020.
All research outputs
of 17,391,055 outputs
Outputs from BMC Biology
of 1,503 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 286,872 outputs
Outputs of similar age from BMC Biology
of 1 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 17,391,055 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 90th percentile: it's in the top 10% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 1,503 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 19.7. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 66% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 286,872 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done well, scoring higher than 84% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 1 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has scored higher than all of them