The early stages of tissue B12 or folate deficiency often cause diagnostic problems. In this report, the levels of serum cobalamin, folate, methylmalonic acid (MMA) and total homocysteine (tHcy), and their relationships with clinical findings and reported symptoms in a representative random population sample are presented.
A general central Swedish population 70 years or older.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS:
A 20% random sample of persons 70 years or older in a defined geographical area were invited to a survey. A total of 235 (85%) persons responded, of whom 161 had no interfering diseases or medication. Blood specimens for serum cobalamin, folate, MMA and tHcy analyses were drawn.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:
Presence of anaemic, gastrointestinal, neurological and psychiatric symptoms, obtained by questionnaire, and vibration sense measurement and findings at a physical and Mini Mental State Examination.
Among a large number of symptoms and clinical findings that traditionally have been linked to vitamin B12 or folate tissue deficiency, only changes in the tongue mucosa and mouth angle stomatitis turned out to be significantly associated with abnormal serum tHcy and serum folate levels. There were no relationships to serum cobalamin and serum MMA.
Changes in the oral mucosa were the only signs and symptoms found in this study, indicating that these may be the very early markers of metabolic defects. The traditional symptoms of vitamin deficiency may appear later in the course.
2003. Vol. 254, no 4, 343-352 p.