Age dependent levels of plasma homocysteine and cognitive performance.Behav Brain Res. 2015 Apr 15; 283:139-44.BB
Elevated plasma homocysteine (hcy) levels, also known as hyperhomocysteinemia (hhcy), have been associated with cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative disorders. Hhcy has been attributed to deficiency of B vitamins which can adversely affect the brain and result in memory loss and poor attention power. Monitoring hcy levels and the use of vitamin supplementation to treat hhcy may therefore prove advantageous for the prevention and management of cognitive impairment. With this in consideration, we measured plasma hcy, folate and vitamin B12 levels in 639 subjects from different age groups in two sub-regions of India. Cognitive function was also measured using attention span and immediate and delayed memory recall tests. Depression scores were obtained using the Beck Depression Inventory-II and functional impairment was assessed using the functional activities questionnaire (FAQ) score. As hhcy has also been linked to inflammation, plasma levels of high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) were also measured. The results demonstrated significant negative correlations between hcy levels and folic acid levels, vitamin B12 levels and cognitive performance (attention span and delayed but not immediate memory recall) along with significant positive correlations between hcy levels and depression scores and hsCRP (but not IL-6) levels. A positive correlation was also observed between hcy levels and FAQ scores, however this was not found to be significant. Based on these results, folic acid and vitamin B12 intervention in people with elevated hcy levels in India could prove to be effective in lowering hcy levels and help maintain or improve cognitive function.