Biotin: From Nutrition to Therapeutics

J Nutr. 2017 Aug;147(8):1487-1492. doi: 10.3945/jn.116.238956. Epub 2017 Jul 12.


Although frank symptomatic biotin deficiency is rare, some evidence suggests that marginal biotin deficiency occurs spontaneously in a substantial proportion of women during normal human pregnancy and might confer an increased risk of birth defects. Herein I review 1) advances in assessing biotin status, including the relation between acylcarnitine excretion and biotin status; 2) recent studies of biotin status in pregnancy; 3) advances in understanding the role of biotin in gene expression and the potential roles of biotinylated proteins that are neither histones nor carboxylases; and 4) novel large-dose biotin supplementation as therapy for multiple sclerosis. The review concludes with a summary of recent studies that have reported potentially dangerous erroneous results in individuals consuming large amounts of biotin for measurements of various plasma hormones for common clinical assays that use streptavidin-biotin technology.

Keywords: biotin; gene expression; hormone assays; interference; multiple sclerosis; nutritional supplements.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biotin* / blood
  • Biotin* / deficiency
  • Biotin* / pharmacology
  • Biotin* / therapeutic use
  • Biotinylation
  • Carnitine / analogs & derivatives
  • Carnitine / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression / drug effects*
  • Hormones
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis / blood
  • Multiple Sclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / blood
  • Pregnancy Complications / prevention & control*
  • Streptavidin
  • Vitamin B Complex* / blood
  • Vitamin B Complex* / pharmacology
  • Vitamin B Complex* / therapeutic use


  • Hormones
  • acylcarnitine
  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Biotin
  • Streptavidin
  • Carnitine