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Int J Lab Hematol. 2008 Feb;30(1):26-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-553X.2007.00910.x.

The effect of antiepileptic drugs on vitamin B12 metabolism.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Medical Faculty, University of Cukurova, Adana, Turkey.


The effects of antiepileptic drugs (AED) on the serum concentration of vitamin B12, folic acid and homocysteine (HMC), and erythrocyte folic acid levels were determined in 45 epileptic patients (30 women, 15 men; mean age 31.7 years) and 23 healthy volunteers (control group; 18 women, five men; mean age 33.4 years). All patients were either on carbamazepine (CMZ), oxcarbazepine (OXZ), or valporate (VP) monotherapy. Serum vitamin B12 levels were low in 17.8% of patients and 8.7% of the controls (P = 0.299). Serum homocysteine levels were high in 17.8% of the patients (P = 0.008). Fifty percent of the patients who had hyperhomocysteinemia, and 75% of the patients who had low serum vitamin B12 level were on CMZ monotherapy. Peripheral blood smears showed hypersegmented neutrophils and macrocytosis in 13.3%, hypochromia and microcytosis in 26.7%, acanthocytes in 2.2%, and thrombocytosis in 2.2% of all patients. The control group had normal peripheral blood smears, except in four cases that showed hypocromia and microcytosis. Long-term administration of AED may cause elevation of homocysteine and development of subnormal serum vitamin B12 levels. Peripheral blood smear abnormalities were frequently seen in patients receiving antiepileptic treatment (P = 0.022), particularly in patients on CMZ monotherapy (P = 0.281). However, homocysteine, vitamin B12, folic acid levels and peripheral blood smear findings did not correlate with the drugs used (P = 0.665, 0.336, 0.249 for CMZ, OXZ, VP, respectively).

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