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Clin Biochem. 2007 Jun;40(9-10):604-8. Epub 2007 Jan 26.

Correlation of folate, vitamin B12 and homocysteine plasma levels with depression in an elderly Greek population.

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Laboratory of Biological Chemistry, University of Athens Medical School, M. Asias 75, Goudi 11527, Athens, Greece.



Alterations in folate, vitamin B12 and homocysteine plasma levels have been associated with aging, neuronal development and depressive symptomatology. Nevertheless, the associations are not strong enough to suggest the use of these parameters in every day practice for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes.


The aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between plasma folate, vitamin B12 and homocysteine in depressive states in the elderly.


Community-dwelling, elderly individuals over 60 years of age were screened with the Geriatric Depression Scale. The study population was divided into two groups: (a) 33 subjects with depression and (b) 33 healthy controls. All participants were clinically evaluated and completed a questionnaire for socio-demographic and clinical data. Measurements of folate, vitamin B12 and homocysteine were estimated in all blood samples and results were statistically evaluated at p<0.05 level of significance.


No statistical significance emerged for the socio-demographic data between the two groups. Chronic diseases such as stroke, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension and diabetes also did not differ between the depression and control group. Group (a) had significantly lower levels of folate and vitamin B12 than group (b). Homocysteine was significantly higher in depressed individuals than in controls.


Lower levels of plasma folate and/or vitamin B12, and higher levels of plasma homocysteine are associated with depression in elderly individuals.

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