Folate and homocysteine in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with Alzheimer's disease or dementia: a case control study

Eur Neurol. 2011;65(5):270-8. doi: 10.1159/000326301. Epub 2011 Apr 8.


Background: Amyloid deposition in the brain is an early event in Alzheimer's disease (AD), but a dysfunction of the blood-brain barrier or a disturbance in the metabolism of folate and homocysteine (Hcy) may affect the development of dementia. We investigated if the concentrations of folate and Hcy would be modified in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of clinically diagnosed AD patients.

Methods: We included 70 AD patients, 33 patients with another type of dementia (nAD) and 30 age-matched control subjects. Plasma Hcy was assayed as well as Hcy, folate, Aβ1-42 and T-tau in CSF. We used ANOVAs for comparison between groups, and then pairwise comparisons by Wilcoxon tests with Bonferroni-corrected p values. Correlations were tested with the Spearman's rank test.

Results: Levels of Aβ1-42, T-tau and folates in CSF were significantly different between groups, but not Hcy. In addition, the average folate in CSF was lower in AD patients compared with controls (18.7 ± 2.4 vs. 20.3 ± 1.7 nmol/l, Bonferroni-corrected p value < 0.02). There was no correlation between Aβ1-42 or T-tau and folate or Hcy in CSF, regardless of the group. In the AD group, there was a significant inverse correlation between Hcy and folate in CSF (ρ = -0.63, p < 0.0001), whereas in the nAD group, a significant correlation was found for Hcy between plasma and CSF (ρ = 0.59, p < 0.0005).

Conclusion: The concentration of folate in CSF was found to be decreased in AD patients. These findings support the hypothesis of a possible role of folate in the onset or worsening of AD.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dementia / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Homocysteine / blood
  • Homocysteine / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Tunisia


  • Homocysteine
  • Folic Acid