Purpose: Homocysteine has been associated with cognitive impairment and various psychiatric symptoms. This study was designed to clarify whether a relationship exists between the serum levels of homocysteine and the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia.
Methods: Patients with Alzheimer's disease (n=77) and control subjects (n=37) were included in this study. History taking, physical examination, and cognitive assessment were carried out as part of the investigation for the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. The Mini-Mental State Examination, Global Deterioration Scale, Clinical Dementia Rating, and the Korean version of the Neuropsychiatric Inventory were applied to all patients. The patients' serum homocysteine, folate, and vitamin B12 levels were measured.
Results: Patients with Alzheimer's disease had statistically significantly lower Mini-Mental State Examination scores and higher serum homocysteine levels compared to the control subjects. Mean serum folate and vitamin B12 concentration were significantly lower in patients with Alzheimer's disease compared to control subjects. A statistically significant positive correlation was found between the serum homocysteine levels and the Neuropsychiatric Inventory subdomains, including delusion, agitation/aggression, depression/dysphoria, elation/euphoria, apathy/indifference, and disinhibition. No statistically significant correlation was found between the serum homocysteine concentration and the Mini-Mental State Examination, Global Deterioration Scale, or Clinical Dementia Rating.
Conclusion: Associations between the serum homocysteine levels and behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia were observed, raising the possibility of an etiological role. However, the correlations between the folate or vitamin B12 levels and the Neuropsychiatric Inventory scores were not significant. The pathophysiological mechanisms underlying these findings remain to be elucidated. This was a cross-sectional study and the findings should be confirmed by repetitive, prospective longitudinal studies in a larger group of patients with neurodegenerative disorders.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD); homocysteine.