Vitamin B12 is an enzymatic cofactor for metabolism of homocysteine to methionine. The metabolism of homocysteine is affected by alcohol abuse. THE AIM of the study was to evaluate an effect of alcohol abuse and alcoholic liver disease on the serum level of vitamin B12. MATERIAL AND METHODS. The tested group consisted of 80 alcohol-dependent men who were admitted to detoxification ward. The diagnosis of dependency was made on the basis of ICD-10 criteria. The alcoholics were divided into two groups according to the presence or absence of alcoholic liver disease. The control group consisted of 30 healthy social drinkers. The vitamin B12 was determined by chemiluminescence method.
Results: The mean concentration of vitamin B12 in the alcohol abuse patients was significantly higher than that of healthy controls but remains in the reference range (93.75% drinkers) in contrast to folic acid which level was decreased in 40% of patients and homocysteine which concentration was increased in 57.5% of alcoholics, whereas both levels are not in the normal range. The presence of alcoholic liver disease elevated the serum concentration of vitamin B12 but not the level of folic acid and homocysteine. The level of vitamin B12 negatively correlated with the homocysteine and positively with the markers of liver injury by alcohol. No correlation was found between folic acid and homocysteine.
Conclusions: The vitamin B12 concentrations in the alcohol abuse patients are significantly higher than that of healthy subjects, however, these still remain in the normal range. The level of this vitamin is connected with the homocysteine concentration but is not linked with the folic acid concentration in the blood. The vitamin B12 concentration reflects the degree of hepatocytes injury by alcohol.