Subnormal serum vitamin B12 and behavioural and psychological symptoms in Alzheimer's disease

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2000 May;15(5):415-8. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1099-1166(200005)15:5<415::aid-gps123>;2-e.


The objective of this study was to examine whether patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) with subnormal vitamin B12 levels show more frequent behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) than AD patients with normal vitamin B12 levels. The design was a prospective case-control study. The study took place at a memory-clinic of a department of geriatric medicine in a teaching hospital. There were seventy-three consecutive outpatients with probable AD, including 61 patients with normal and 12 patients with subnormal (<200 pg/ml) vitamin B12. BPSD were measured using the subscales disturbed behaviour and mood of the Nurses' Observation Scale for Geriatric Patients (NOSGER), the Cornell Scale for Depression and the four criteria for personality change in dementia from the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). Controlling for dementia duration and degree of severity of the cognitive deficits, there were significant inverse associations between vitamin B12 status and ICD-10 irritability (p=0.045) and NOSGER subscale disturbed behaviour (p=0.015). Low vitamin B12 serum levels are associated with BPSD in AD. Vitamin B12 could play a role in the pathogenesis of behavioural changes in AD.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / blood*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / blood*