Vitamin B12 Markers Tied to Cognition, Brain Volume

Homocysteine affects global cognitive performance, and methylmalonate affects total brain volume

TUESDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Serum vitamin B12 markers are associated with total brain volume and global cognitive function, with homocysteine affecting global cognitive performance and methylmalonate affecting total brain volume, according to a study published in the Sept. 27 issue of Neurology.

Christine C. Tangney, Ph.D., from the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging in Chicago, and colleagues investigated the association of serum vitamin B12 markers with brain volumes, cerebral infarcts, and performance in individual cognitive domains in 121 biracial community-dwelling participants of the Chicago Health and Aging Project. The vitamin B12 markers were related to brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measures and scores of neuropsychological tests in five cognitive domains obtained after an average of 4.6 years.

The investigators found that concentrations of all vitamin B12-related markers, but not serum vitamin B12 levels, correlated with total brain volume and global cognitive function. Cystathionine and 2-methylcitrate correlated with poorer semantic and episodic memory, methylmalonate levels with poorer episodic memory and perceptual speed, and homocysteine concentrations with decreased total brain volume. Adjustment for white-matter volume and cerebral infarcts modified the homocysteine global-cognition effect to no longer statistically significant. Adjustment for total brain volume modified the methylmalonate global-cognition effect to no longer statistically significant.

"Our findings lend support for the contention that poor vitamin B12 status is a risk factor for brain atrophy and possibly white matter hyperintensity volume, which in turn may contribute to cognitive impairment," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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