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Eur J Haematol. 2001 Aug;67(2):123-7.

Human cobalamin deficiency: alterations in serum tumour necrosis factor-alpha and epidermal growth factor.

Author information

1
Department of Medical Sciences, Chair of Gastroenterology and Chair of Hematology, University of Milan, IRCCS Ospedale Maggiore, Italy.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

We have previously demonstrated that vitamin B12 (cobalamin)-deficient central neuropathy in the rat is associated with local overexpression of neurotoxic tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha combined with locally decreased synthesis of neurotrophic epidermal growth factor (EGF). The aims of this study were to investigate whether a similar imbalance also occurs in the serum of adult patients with clinically confirmed cobalamin deficiency and whether it can be corrected by vitamin B12 replacement therapy.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:

We studied 34 adult patients with severe cobalamin deficiency, 12 patients with pure iron deficiency anaemia and 34 control subjects. Haematological markers of cobalamin deficiency and serum TNF-alpha and EGF levels were measured using commercial kits. Thirteen cobalamin-deficient patients were re-evaluated after 3 and 6 months of parenteral vitamin B12 treatment.

RESULTS:

TNF-alpha was significantly higher (p < 0.01) and EGF significantly lower (p < 0.01) in the patients with cobalamin deficiency, but both were unchanged in patients with pure iron deficiency anaemia. In cobalamin-deficient patients the serum TNF-alpha levels correlated significantly with plasma total homocysteine levels (r = 0.425; p < 0.02). In the treated patients TNF-alpha and EGF levels normalised concomitantly with clinical and haematological disease remission.

CONCLUSIONS:

In humans, as in rats, cobalamin concentration appears to be correlated with the synthesis and release of TNF-alpha and EGF in a reciprocal manner, because cobalamin deficiency is accompanied by overproduction of TNF-alpha and underproduction of EGF.

PMID:
11722601
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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