Homocysteine and cognitive function in healthy elderly community dwellers in Italy

Giovanni Ravaglia, Paola Forti, Fabiola Maiol, Antonio Muscari, Loredana Sacchetti, Giorgia Arnone, Valeria Nativio, Teresa Talerico, Erminia Mariani

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Background: Elevated plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) concentrations are common in the elderly and have been suggested to be a risk factor for dementia. Objective: In an elderly population, we examined the relation between plasma tHcy and scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), a commonly used screening measure of cognitive impairment in general practice. Design: Fasting plasma tHcy concentrations were measured in 650 healthy, cognitively normal Italian community dwellers aged ≥ 65 y (x̄ ± SD; 72.8 ± 6.0 y). Socioeconom c status; serum folate, vitamin B-12, and creatinine; other potential dietary and lifestyle determinants of tHcy; and conventional vascular disease risk factors were also assessed. Results: Subjects with MMSE scores of 26-28 had higher plasma tHcy concentrations (12.7 μmol/L; range: 12.2-13.2 μmol/L) than did those with scores > 28 (11.9 μmol/L; 11.4-12.3 μmol/L; P 28 (P <0.001). The risk of hyperhomocysteinemia (plasma tHcy > 15 μmol/L) was higher in subjects with scores of 24-25 (odds ratio: 3.81; 95% CI: 1.9, 7.5) or 26-28 (odds ratio: 1.96; 95% CI: 1.3, 3.0) than in those with scores > 28. The results did not change after adjustment for conventional vascular risk factors and for age, medical, dietary, and lifestyle determinants of plasma tHcy. Conclusion: Elevated plasma tHcy has an independent, graded association with concurrent cognitive impairment as measured with the MMSE in healthy elderly community dwellers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)668-673
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2003


  • Cognition
  • Conselice Study
  • Elderly subjects
  • Folate
  • Homocysteine
  • Italy
  • Mini-Mental State Examination
  • Vitamin in B-12

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science


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