Risk Factors for Cognitive Impairment
Levels of Vitamins and Homocysteine in Older Adults
with Alzheimer Disease or Mild Cognitive Impairment in Cuba
Age-related cognitive disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, are among the main causes of disability and dependence in older adults worldwide. High blood homocysteine levels (hyperhomocysteinemia) are a risk factor for diseases whose metabolism involves different B vitamins.
Antioxidant vitamins provide a protective effect by mitigating oxidative stress generated by these diseases. Epidemiological studies have presented varying results on the relationships between blood levels of these vitamins and such cognitive disorders.
Evaluate the association of vitamin and homocysteine levels with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease in a group of Cuban older adults.
A cross-sectional study was conducted in Havana, Cuba, of 424 persons aged ≥65 years: 43 with Alzheimer's disease, 131 with mild cognitive impairment, and 250 with no signs of cognitive impairment. Dementia was diagnosed using criteria of the International 10/66 Dementia Research Group and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV), and mild cognitive impairment was diagnosed using Petersen’s criteria. Blood levels of vitamins (thiamine, B-2, folate, B-12, C, and A) and homocysteine were measured by standard procedures. Analysis of variance for continuous variables and percentage comparison tests for dichotomous variables were used to compare groups.
Persons with Alzheimer's disease presented significantly lower levels of vitamins B-2, C, and A than healthy participants (p <0.05). Homocysteine levels were significantly higher in those with Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment than in participants with no cognitive impairment (p <0.05). Statistically, levels of thiamine, folic acid, and vitamin B-12 were not significantly different across groups.
Compared with those without cognitive impairment, prevalence rates (PR) in the Alzheimer group were significantly higher for hyperhomocysteinemia (PR = 3.26; 1.84–5.80) and deficiency of all B vitamins: thiamine (PR = 1.89; 1.04–3.43), B-2 (PR = 2.85; 1.54–5.26), folate (PR = 3.02; 1.53–5.95), B-12 (PR = 2.21; 1.17–4.19), vitamin C (PR = 3.88; 2.12–7.10) and A (PR = 5.47; 3.26–9.17).
In mild cognitive impairment, prevalence rates were significantly higher for hyperhomocysteinemia (PR = 1.42; 1.08–1.87), vitamin B-2 deficiency (PR = 1.70; 1.24–2.32) and vitamin A deficiency (PR =1.88; 1.05–3.38).
Hyperhomocysteinemia and various vitamin deficiencies are related to Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment.
Longitudinal studies are needed to further elucidate the relationship between different nutritional biomarkers and dementia. A better understanding of this relationship could provide a basis for therapeutic and preventive strategies.