Photo of Amanda MacFarlane

Amanda MacFarlane

Adjunct Research Professor, Research Scientist

Degrees:B.Sc. (Carleton), Ph.D. (Ottawa)
Office:Health Canada,
E337-AL2203E, Sir Frederick Banting Research Centre,
251 Sir Frederick Banting Drive,
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0K9

Current Research

My lab studies folate-mediated one-carbon (1C) metabolism in health and disease. Folic acid (folate), along with the other essential B vitamins, is required for DNA synthesis and cellular methylation reactions. Folate-mediated 1C metabolism provides 1C groups for the de novo synthesis of purines, thymidylate, and methionine. Nucleotide pool imbalances (too much or too little of one nucleotide) can result in cytotoxicity, DNA mutagenesis, genome instability and changes in gene expression. Methionine is used to form S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet) the major methyl donor in the cell required for DNA, RNA and histone methylation, which impacts genome stability and the expression of epigenetically regulated genes. Using in vitro and in vivo models, my lab examines the biochemical, genetic and epigenetic mechanisms underpinning folate-dependent diseases with a particular interest in the effect of maternal and paternal nutrition on fertility, and its effect on the health of their offspring. Using nationally-representative population health data, we also assess the folate and B vitamin status of Canadians, and identify socioeconomic, dietary and genetic determinants of status in the Canadian population. I am also actively involved in policy work related to food fortification and supplement use, and international standard setting including the Dietary Reference Intakes.

Selected Publications

Page, R., A. Robichaud, T. Arbuckle, W. Fraser and A.J. MacFarlane. Total folate and unmetabolized folic acid in the breast milk of a cross-section of Canadian women. Am J Clin Nutr 105(5):1101-1109. 2017.

Yetley E.A., A.J. MacFarlane, L.S. Green-Finestone, B.G. Garza, et al. Options for basing Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) on chronic disease endpoints: Report from a Joint US/Canadian-sponsored working group.  Am J Clin Nutr 105(1): 249S-285S. 2017.

MacFarlane, A.J. The elephant in the room: Using nutritional biomarker cut-offs to assess status. Am J Clin Nutr 104(6): 1493-1494. 2016.

Moussa, C., N. Ross, P. Jolette, A.J. MacFarlane. Altered folate metabolism modifies cell proliferation and progesterone secretion in human placental choriocarcinoma JEG-3 cells. Br J Nutr 114(6): 844-52. 2015.

MacFarlane, A.J., N.A. Behan, M.S. Field, A. Williams, P.J. Stover, C.L. Yauk. Dietary folic acid protects against genotoxicity in the red blood cells of mice. Mutat Res 779: 105–111. 2015.

Stover P.J., A.J. MacFarlane, M.S. Field. Bringing clarity to the role of MTHFR variants in neural tube defect prevention. Am J Clin Nutr 101: 1111-1112. 2015.

Zinck, J.W.R., M. de Groh, A.J. MacFarlane. Genetic modifiers of folate, vitamin B-12, and homocysteine status in a cross-sectional study of the Canadian population. Am J Clin Nutr 101: 1295-1304. 2015.

Zinck, J.W.R., and A.J. MacFarlane. Approaches for the identification of genetic modifiers of nutrient dependent phenotypes: Examples from folate. Front Nutr 1(8):1-10. 2014.

Shi, Y., M. de Groh and A.J. MacFarlane. Sociodemographic and lifestyle factors associated with folate status among non-supplement-consuming Canadian women of child-bearing age. Can J Public Health 105(3):e166-e171. 2014.

MacFarlane, A.J., Y. Shi and L.S. Greene-Finestone. High dose compared to low dose vitamin B12 supplement use is not associated with higher vitamin B12 status in children, adolescents and older adults. J Nutr 144(6):915-20. 2014.

MacFarlane, A.J., M.F. McEntee, P.J. Stover. Azoxymethane-induced colon carcinogenesis in mice occurs independently of de novo thymidylate sysnthesis capacity. J Nutr 144(4):419-24. 2014.

Swayne, B.G., A. Kawata, N.A. Behan, A. Williams, M.G. Wade, A.J. MacFarlane, C.L. Yauk. Investigating the effects of dietary folic acid on sperm count and integrity. Mutat Res 737(1-2): 1-7. 2012.

MacFarlane, A.J., N.A. Behan, F. Matias, J. Green, D. Caldwell, S.P.J. Brooks. Dietary folate does not significantly affect the intestinal microbiome, inflammation, or tumorigenesis in AOM-DSS treated mice. Br J Nutr 5: 1-9. 2012.

Swayne B.G., N.A. Behan, A. Williams, P.J. Stover, C.L. Yauk, A.J. MacFarlane. Supplemental dietary folic acid has no effect on chromosome damage in erythrocyte progenitor cells of mice. J Nutr 142(5): 813-7. 2012.