The role of hyperhomocysteinemia and B-vitamin deficiency in neurological and psychiatric diseases


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Abstract

Hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy) is related to central nervous system diseases. Epidemiological studies show a positive, dose-dependent relationship between plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) concentration and neurodegenerative disease risk. tHcy is a marker of B-vitamin (folate, B12, B6) status. Hypomethylation, caused by low B-vitamin status and HHcy, is linked to key pathomechanisms of dementia; B-vitamin supplementation could potentially reduce neurological damage. In retrospective studies, the association between tHcy and cognition is impressive; there is also evidence that tHcy-lowering treatment could be effective in primary and secondary stroke prevention. Increased tHcy and low serum folate occur in patients with Parkinson's disease, especially those receiving L-dopa. There is also an association between HHcy and multiple sclerosis, and between B-vitamin status and depression. Studies also confirm a causal role for tHcy in epilepsy, and certain anti-epileptics enhance HHcy. B-vitamin status should be optimized by ensuring sufficient intake in patients with neuropsychiatric diseases. HHcy occurs commonly in the elderly and can contribute to age-related neurodegeneration. Treatment with folic acid, B12 and B6 lowers tHcy. For secondary and primary prevention from several neuropsychiatric disorders, it seems prudent to actively identify deficient subjects and ensure sufficient vitamin intake.

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