Studies on methylmalonic acid in humans. II. Relationship between concentrations in serum and urinary excretion, and the correlation between serum cobalamin and accumulation of methylmalonic acid.Clin Chem. 1989 Dec; 35(12):2277-80.CC
Methylmalonic acid (MMA) concentrations are increased in cobalamin (vitamin B12) deficiency, but the relative diagnostic usefulness of determination of MMA in serum vs urine has not yet been assessed. We obtained urine collections and matched serum samples from 28 healthy volunteers and from 20 consecutive patients admitted for clinical and hematological evaluation because of low cobalamin concentrations in serum. Increased concentrations of MMA in serum were found in 12 patients, in all of whom a clinical diagnosis of cobalamin deficiency was established. By contrast, cobalamin deficiency was excluded in seven of the eight remaining patients, who all had normal MMA concentrations. Here we report that linear relationships exist between MMA concentrations in serum (investigated range: 0.05-34.2 mumol/L) and MMA concentrations in urine (r = 0.74), concentrations relative to creatinine (r = 0.98), and MMA excretion rates (r = 0.97) (P less than 0.001 in each instance). Our data are consistent with glomerular filtration and passive reabsorption of MMA by the tubules. We demonstrate, for the first time, a negative correlation between concentrations of cobalamin and MMA in serum in clinical cobalamin deficiency (r = -0.69; P less than 0.01; n = 12); when the values for MMA were log transformed, the correlation with cobalamin was much better (r = -0.84; P less than 0.0005).