Brain Levels of Vitamin B12 Decreased in Aging, Autism and Schizophrenia

Dr. Richard Deth PhD Professor of Pharmacology Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences Nova Southeastern University

Dr. Richard Deth

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Richard Deth PhD
Professor of Pharmacology
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Nova Southeastern University

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Deth: Vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in regulating and promoting methylation reactions (the attachment of a carbon atom to molecules), including DNA methylation. Recent research has identified methylation of DNA and consequential changes in gene expression as crucial factors in brain development, as well as in memory formation and maintenance of brain function during aging. More specifically, the cause(s) of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism remain obscure, although numerous studies have demonstrated oxidative stress and low plasma levels of the antioxidant glutathione (GSH) in autism.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Deth: We found that brain levels of vitamin B12, especially the methylation-regulating form known as methylB12, decrease significantly with age, even though blood levels don’t show a similar decrease. Importantly, much lower levels of methylB12 were found in subjects with autism and schizophrenia compared to normal subjects of a similar age. Animal studies showed that impaired GSH formation is associated with decreased brain B12 levels.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Deth: Addressing oxidative stress and promoting adequate brain levels of vitamin B12 may be an important clinical goal for autism, schizophrenia and neurodegenerative disorders, which can be approached through targeted use of nutritional supplements. Avoidance of toxic exposures that lower antioxidant levels and impair methylation is a primary prevention strategy. It is important to appreciate that measurement of vitamin B12 in the blood might not give the full picture of its status in the brain.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Deth: There is a need to better understand the processes which regulate access of vitamin B12 to the brain across the blood brain barrier, and it would be helpful to identify clinically useful markers that reflect brain B12 and brain methylation status.

Medical Research: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Deth: Our findings are consistent with an important role of environmental factors in causing autism, and efforts to identify such factors is a crucial goal for addressing the recent rise in autism rates.

Citation:

Yiting Zhang, Nathaniel W. Hodgson, Malav S. Trivedi, Hamid M. Abdolmaleky, Margot Fournier, Michel Cuenod, Kim Quang Do, Richard C. Deth. Decreased Brain Levels of Vitamin B12 in Aging, Autism and Schizophrenia.PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (1): e0146797
DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0146797

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Dr. Richard Deth PhD (2016). Brain Levels of Vitamin B12 Decreased in Aging, Autism and Schizophrenia MedicalResearch.com