Clinically significant vitamin B12 deficiency secondary to malabsorption of protein-bound vitamin B12

Dig Dis Sci. 1979 May;24(5):397-402. doi: 10.1007/BF01297127.


Protein- (chicken serum) bound [57Co]cyanocobalamin absorption was evaluated in five hypochlorhydric patients who had developed B12 deficiency despite having normal absorption of unbound crystalline vitamin B12. All five patients had decreased urinary excretion of protein-bound B12 (0.06--0.34%) as compared to twelve normal controls (0.61--5.6%), P less than .001. Improvement in protein-bound B12 absorption in four of the five patients occurred with the exogenous administration of hydrochloric acid, pepsin, gastric intrinsic factor, or a combination thereof. Vitamin B12 deficiency developing in the setting of hypochlorhydria may result from deficiency of acid-peptic digestion of B12 bound to protein and/or a relative deficiency of intrinsic factor. This digestive defect is not detected with tests which measure the absorption of unbound crystalline B12 but is detected by a simple test which employs B12 bound to chicken serum as the form of protein-bound B12.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Gastrectomy
  • Humans
  • Hydrochloric Acid / metabolism
  • Hydrochloric Acid / pharmacology
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Intrinsic Factor / metabolism
  • Intrinsic Factor / pharmacology
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / complications*
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pepsin A / metabolism
  • Pepsin A / pharmacology
  • Protein Binding
  • Vitamin B 12 / metabolism
  • Vitamin B 12 / pharmacology
  • Vitamin B 12 / urine
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / etiology*
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / metabolism


  • Intrinsic Factor
  • Pepsin A
  • Vitamin B 12
  • Hydrochloric Acid