Background. It is still unclear whether there is an association between Alzheimer's disease and vitamin B-12 or folate deficiency. This study was designed to investigate whether patients with Alzheimer's disease are particularly prone to metabolically significant cobalamin or folate deficiency as compared to nortdemented hospitalized controls and healthy elderly controls living at home.
Methods. Evaluation for the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, routine laboratory tests, serum folate and vitamin B-12, serum methylmalonic acid (MMA), total homocysteine (tHcy), and radiological tests was performed in 52 patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), 50 nondemented hospitalized controls, and 49 healthy elderly subjects living at home.
Results. Serum vitamin B-12 and folate levels are comparable between patients with AD, hospitalized control patients, and subjects living at home. Patients with AD have the highest serum MMA and tHcy levels. The MMA levels of patients with AD and hospitalized controls are not different, but the mean tHcy level is significantly higher in patients with AD as compared to nondemented patients or subjects living at home.
Conclusion. The interpretation of the vitamin B-12 and folate status in patients with AD depends largely on the methodology (i.e., serum vitamin vs metabolite levels) and the selection of the control group. Although patients with AD have the highest tHcy and MMA levels, metabolically significant vitamin B-12 and folate deficiency is also a substantial problem in nondemented elderly patients.