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Psychosom Med. 2006 Jul-Aug;68(4):547-54.

Homocysteine, folate, and vitamins B6 and B12 blood levels in relation to cognitive performance: the Maine-Syracuse study.

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Department of Psychology, University of Maine, Orono, Maine, USA.



Our objective was to examine associations among plasma homocysteine concentrations (tHcy), the tHcy-cofactors (folate, vitamins B6 and B12), and multiple domains of cognitive performance, with statistical adjustment for possible confounds, including cardiovascular disease risk factors (CVD-RF) and cardiovascular disease (CVD).


Subjects were 812 participants (58% women) of the Maine-Syracuse study who were free of dementia and stroke. Employing a cross-sectional design and multiple regression analyses, fasting concentrations of tHcy and its vitamin cofactors (folate, B6, and B12) were related to multiple domains of cognitive performance.


With adjustment for age, education, gender, ethnicity, and the vitamins, tHcy was inversely associated with visual-spatial organization, working memory, scanning-tracking, and abstract reasoning. The same results were found with adjustment for age, education, gender, ethnicity, CVD-RF, and CVD. Vitamin cofactors were positively related to cognitive performance, but with adjustment for CVD-RF and CVD, only vitamin B6 was related to multiple cognitive domains.


The inverse association of tHcy with multiple domains of cognitive functioning is not necessarily dependent on vitamin levels, vitamin deficiency, prevalent CVD risk factors, and manifest CVD. Serum folate, serum B12, and plasma B6 vitamin concentrations are positively associated with cognitive performance. Investigation of other possible mechanisms (e.g., tHcy neurotoxicity) mediating tHcy associations with cognitive performance is important, as are clinical trials examining the efficacy of folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 for maintenance of cognitive functioning.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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