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Homocysteine, B12 Associated With Alzheimer's Risk

Small changes in serum levels of either are associated with change in AD risk

TUESDAY, Oct. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Serum levels of homocysteine (tHcy) and holotranscobalamin (holoTC) -- the active form of vitamin B12 -- may be useful in determining the risk of, and preventing, Alzheimer's disease (AD), with higher holoTC levels being a protective factor, according to research published in the Oct. 19 issue of Neurology.

Babak Hooshmand, M.D., of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues followed 271 elderly patients in Finland for a seven-year period for incident AD. All were screened at baseline for serum total tHcy and holoTC to examine the potential relationship between tHcy and AD risk.

The researchers found that the odds for incident AD rose 16 percent for each additional micromole per liter unit of tHcy at baseline and decreased 2 percent for each additional picomole per liter unit of baseline holoTC. Adjustment for various demographic and clinical variables did not significantly change these associations. Adjusting for holoTC weakened the tHcy-AD link. No association was observed with serum folate level.

"Observational studies and larger clinical trials are indicated, targeting older persons with mild cognitive impairment, simultaneously assessing holoTC (and B12) and plasma tHcy (and folate, methylmalonic acid)," writes the author of an accompanying editorial. "Beauty and the beast may travel together but careful examination of the evidence is required to learn who is the perpetrator in the complex pathology of AD and other dementias."

Several of the authors disclosed financial and advisory board relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.

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