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J Affect Disord. 1990 Jul;19(3):207-13.

Red cell folate concentrations in psychiatric patients.

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Department of Psychiatry, Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, Middlesex, U.K.


Red cell folate and vitamin B12 estimations were performed on 243 successively admitted in-patients at a District General Hospital Psychiatric Unit and 42 out-patients (29 attending a lithium clinic). Patients were classified into five diagnostic groups. The mean ages of the manic and schizophrenic patients were lower than of the depressed or euthymic patients but age was not correlated with red cell folate or serum B12 levels in any group. There were 89 (31%) patients with red cell folate below 200 ng/ml and 35 (12%) with concentrations below 150 ng/ml. Significantly more of these low-folate patients were in-patients than out-patients. The mean red cell folate in the depressed patients was significantly lower than in the euthymic, manic and schizophrenic groups. Alcoholics had a similar mean red cell folate to depressed patients which was not quite significantly lower than the other groups. The mean serum B12 level in the alcoholics was, however, significantly raised. There were no significant differences in red cell folate or serum B12 between lithium-treated and untreated euthymic patients. The highest proportions of values below 200 ng/ml and 150 ng/ml were found in depressed and alcoholic patients. Endogenous depressives had the highest percentage of values below 150 ng/ml (folate-deficient) of all psychiatric groups and alcoholic patients. The significance of these findings is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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