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Mech Ageing Dev. 2001 Nov;122(16):2013-23.

Plasma total homocysteine levels and the C677T mutation in the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene: a study in an Italian population with dementia.

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Baylor Institute of Metabolic Disease, 3812 Elm Street, Dallas, TX 75226, USA.


Hyperhomocysteinemia is a known risk factor for vascular disease and commonly occurs in the elderly. Several studies have shown an association between elevated plasma homocysteine levels and cognitive impairment, indicating that it may play a role in the pathophysiology of dementia. We studied plasma homocysteine, folate, vitamin B12 levels and the MTHFR C677T genotype in an Italian population of patients with dementia. We confirmed that elevated plasma tHcy (>14 micromol/l) is common in elderly subjects with dementia. Although we found a high prevalence of the MTHFR TT genotype (21.2%) the allele frequency is not over-represented relative to the control population. We also observed a high incidence of folate deficiency (38%) in subjects with dementia. Elevated homocysteine was associated with low plasma folate (<5.7 nmol/l) and the MTHFR TT genotype. Moderate to severe hyperhomocysteinemia (>26.1 nmol/l) was associated with a significantly lower MMSE score. Hyperhomocysteinemia may be neurotoxic by several different mechanisms affecting cognitive function. Further studies are needed to fully explore the potential of B vitamin supplementation to lower plasma homocysteine and improve cognitive function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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