Predictive value of folate, vitamin B12 and homocysteine levels in late-life depression

Br J Psychiatry. 2008 Apr;192(4):268-74. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.107.039511.


Background: The role of folate, vitamin B(12) and homocysteine levels in depression is not clear.

Aims: To investigate cross-sectional and prospective associations between folate, B(12) and homocysteine levels and late-life depression.

Method: A total of 732 Korean people aged 65 years or over were evaluated at baseline. Of the 631 persons who were not depressed, 521 (83%) were followed over a period of 2-3 years and incident depression was ascertained with the Geriatric Mental State schedule. Serum folate, serum vitamin B(12) and plasma homocysteine levels were assayed at both baseline and follow-up.

Results: Lower levels of folate and vitamin B(12) and higher homocysteine levels at baseline were associated with a higher risk of incident depression at follow-up. Incident depression was associated with a decline in vitamin B(12) and an increase in homocysteine levels over the follow-up period.

Conclusions: Lower folate, lower vitamin B(12) and raised homocysteine levels may be risk factors for late-life depression.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / blood
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology*
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / blood*
  • Folic Acid Deficiency / complications*
  • Genotype
  • Homocysteine / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / complications*
  • Vitamin B Complex / blood


  • Homocysteine
  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Folic Acid