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Concept: Folic acid


Cerebral folate deficiency (CFD) syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder typically caused by folate receptor autoantibodies (FRAs) that interfere with folate transport across the blood-brain barrier. Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and improvements in ASD symptoms with leucovorin (folinic acid) treatment have been reported in some children with CFD. In children with ASD, the prevalence of FRAs and the response to leucovorin in FRA-positive children has not been systematically investigated. In this study, serum FRA concentrations were measured in 93 children with ASD and a high prevalence (75.3%) of FRAs was found. In 16 children, the concentration of blocking FRA significantly correlated with cerebrospinal fluid 5-methyltetrahydrofolate concentrations, which were below the normative mean in every case. Children with FRAs were treated with oral leucovorin calcium (2 mg kg(-1) per day; maximum 50 mg per day). Treatment response was measured and compared with a wait-list control group. Compared with controls, significantly higher improvement ratings were observed in treated children over a mean period of 4 months in verbal communication, receptive and expressive language, attention and stereotypical behavior. Approximately one-third of treated children demonstrated moderate to much improvement. The incidence of adverse effects was low. This study suggests that FRAs may be important in ASD and that FRA-positive children with ASD may benefit from leucovorin calcium treatment. Given these results, empirical treatment with leucovorin calcium may be a reasonable and non-invasive approach in FRA-positive children with ASD. Additional studies of folate receptor autoimmunity and leucovorin calcium treatment in children with ASD are warranted.

Concepts: Autism, Folic acid, Asperger syndrome, Autism spectrum, Neurodevelopmental disorder, Pyrimethamine, Folinic acid, Folates


Vitamin B12 is one of the essential vitamins affecting various systems of the body. Reports of psychiatric disorders due to its deficiency mostly focus on middle aged and elderly patients. Here we report a case of vitamin B 12 deficiency in a 16-year old, male adolescent who presented with mixed mood disorder symptoms with psychotic features. Chief complaints were “irritability, regressive behavior, apathy, crying and truancy” which lasted for a year. Premorbid personality was unremarkable with no substance use/exposure or infections. No stressors were present. The patient was not vegetarian. Past medical history and family history was normal. Neurological examination revealed glossitis, ataxia, rigidity in both shoulders, cog-wheel rigidity in the left elbow, bilateral problems of coordination in cerebellar examination, reduced swinging of the arms and masked face. Romberg’s sign was present. Laboratory evaluations were normal. Endoscopy and biopsy revealed atrophy of the gastric mucosa with Helicobacter Pylori colonization. Schilling test was suggestive of malabsorbtion. He was diagnosed with Mood disorder with Mixed, Psychotic Features due to Vitamin B12 Deficiency and risperidone 0.5 mg/day and intramuscular vitamin B12 500 mcg/day were started along with referral for treatment of Helicobacter pylori. A visit on the second week revealed no psychotic features. Romberg’s sign was negative and cerebellar tests were normal. Extrapyramidal symptoms were reduced while Vitamin B12 levels were elevated. Risperidone was stopped and parenteral Vitamin B12 treatment was continued with monthly injections for 3 months. Follow-up endoscopy and biopsy at the first month demonstrated eradication of H. pylori. He was followed monthly for another 6 months and psychiatric symptoms did not recur at the time of last evaluation. Despite limitations, this case may underline the observation that mood disorders with psychotic features especially with accompanying extrapyramidal symptoms lacking a clear etiology may be rare manifestation of vitamin B12 and/or folate deficiency in children and adolescents and be potentially amenable to treatment.

Concepts: Vitamin, Ataxia, Helicobacter pylori, Folic acid, Megaloblastic anemia, Vitamin B12, B vitamins, Vitamin B12 deficiency


We sought to determine whether high-dose folinic acid improves verbal communication in children with non-syndromic autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and language impairment in a double-blind placebo control setting. Forty-eight children (mean age 7 years 4  months; 82% male) with ASD and language impairment were randomized to receive 12 weeks of high-dose folinic acid (2 mg kg(-1) per day, maximum 50 mg per day; n=23) or placebo (n=25). Children were subtyped by glutathione and folate receptor-α autoantibody (FRAA) status. Improvement in verbal communication, as measured by a ability-appropriate standardized instrument, was significantly greater in participants receiving folinic acid as compared with those receiving placebo, resulting in an effect of 5.7 (1.0,10.4) standardized points with a medium-to-large effect size (Cohen’s d=0.70). FRAA status was predictive of response to treatment. For FRAA-positive participants, improvement in verbal communication was significantly greater in those receiving folinic acid as compared with those receiving placebo, resulting in an effect of 7.3 (1.4,13.2) standardized points with a large effect size (Cohen’s d=0.91), indicating that folinic acid treatment may be more efficacious in children with ASD who are FRAA positive. Improvements in subscales of the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale, the Aberrant Behavior Checklist, the Autism Symptom Questionnaire and the Behavioral Assessment System for Children were significantly greater in the folinic acid group as compared with the placebo group. There was no significant difference in adverse effects between treatment groups. Thus, in this small trial of children with non-syndromic ASD and language impairment, treatment with high-dose folinic acid for 12 weeks resulted in improvement in verbal communication as compared with placebo, particularly in those participants who were positive for FRAAs.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 18 October 2016; doi:10.1038/mp.2016.168.

Concepts: Improve, Statistical significance, Autism, Placebo, Folic acid, Effect size, Asperger syndrome, Autism spectrum


Celiac disease is a life-long autoimmune condition, affecting genetically susceptible individuals that may present with thromboembolic phenomena. This thrombophilia represents a puzzle with multiple constituents: hyperhomocysteinemia, B12 and\or folate deficiency, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase mutations, and protein C and S deficiency due to vitamin K deficiency. However, the well known thrombogenic factors, antiphosphatidylserine/prothrombin and antiprothrombin have never been explored in celiac disease.

Concepts: Immune system, Coagulation, Escherichia coli, Folic acid, Coeliac disease, Vitamin K, Malabsorption, Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase


OBJECTIVE: To identify reasons why eligible families are not accessing free ‘Healthy Start’ vitamin supplementation (providing vitamins A, C and D) in England. DESIGN: Qualitative study using in-depth interviews. SETTING: 13 primary care trusts in England. PARTICIPANTS: Purposive sample of 15 Healthy Start coordinators, 50 frontline health and children’s professionals and 107 parents. RESULTS: Vitamin take-up was low across all research sites, reported as below 10% of eligible beneficiaries for free vitamins. Reasons identified by both parents and professionals included (1) poor accessibility of vitamins, (2) low promotion of the scheme by health professionals, (3) a lack of awareness among eligible families, and (4) low motivation among mothers to take vitamins for themselves during pregnancy or for children under 4 years old. CONCLUSIONS: Low uptake rates can be explained by poor accessibility of vitamins and lack of awareness and motivation to take vitamin supplements among eligible families. Universal provision (at least for pregnant women) and better training for health professionals are identified as potential solutions worthy of further research and evaluation.

Concepts: Family, Pregnancy, Nutrition, Vitamin, Dietary supplement, Educational psychology, Folic acid, Mother


Considering that hyperhomocysteinemia is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the purpose of this study was to determine the kinetics of serum homocysteine (tHcy) and the vitamins involved in its metabolism (folates, B(12), and B(6)) in response to acute exercise at different intensities. Eight sedentary males (18-27 yr) took part in the study. Subjects were required to complete two isocaloric (400 kcal) acute exercise trials on separate occasions at 40% (low intensity, LI) and 80% VO(2peak) (high intensity, HI). Blood samples were drawn at different points before (pre4 and pre0 h), during (exer10, exer20, exer30, exer45, and exer60 min), and after exercise (post0, post3, and post19 h). Dietary, genetic, and lifestyle factors were controlled. Maximum tHcy occurred during exercise, both at LI (8.6 (8.0-10.1) µmol/L, 9.3% increase from pre0) and HI (9.4 (8.2-10.6) µmol/L, 25.7% increase from pre0), coinciding with an accumulated energy expenditure independent of the exercise intensity. From this point onwards tHcy declined until the cessation of exercise and continued descending. At post19, tHcy was not different from pre-exercise values. No values of hyperhomocysteinemia were observed at any sampling point and intensity. In conclusion, acute exercise in sedentary individuals, even at HI, shows no negative effect on tHcy when at least 400 kcal are spent during exercise and the nutritional status for folate, B(12), and B(6) is adequate, since no hyperhomocysteinemia has been observed and basal concentrations were recovered in less than 24 h. This could be relevant for further informing healthy exercise recommendations.

Concepts: Nutrition, Obesity, Cardiovascular disease, Vitamin, Folic acid, Negative feedback, Homocysteine, Homocystinuria


BACKGROUND: Use of multivitamin supplements during the pre-HAART era has been found to reduce viral load, enhance immune response, and generally improve clinical outcomes among HIV-infected adults. However, immune reconstitution is incomplete and significant mortality and opportunistic infections occur in spite of HAART. There is insufficient research information on whether multivitamin supplementation may be beneficial as adjunct therapy for HIV-infected individuals taking HAART. We propose to evaluate the efficacy of a single recommended daily allowance (RDA) of micronutrients (including vitamins B-complex, C, and E) in slowing disease progression among HIV-infected adults receiving HAART in Uganda. METHODS: We are using a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial study design. Eligible patients are HIV-positive adults aged at least 18 years, and are randomized to receive either a placebo; or multivitamins that include a single RDA of the following vitamins: 1.4 mg B1, 1.4 mg B2, 1.9 mg B6, 2.6 mcg B12, 18 mg niacin, 70 mg C, 10 mg E, and 0.4 mg folic acid. Participants are followed for up to 18 months with evaluations at baseline, 6, 12 and 18 months. The study is primarily powered to examine the effects on immune reconstitution, weight gain, and quality of life. In addition, we will examine the effects on other secondary outcomes including the risks of development of new or recurrent disease progression event, including all-cause mortality; ARV regimen change from first- to second-line therapy; and other adverse events as indicated by incident peripheral neuropathy, severe anemia, or diarrhea.DiscussionsThe conduct of this trial provides an opportunity to evaluate the potential benefits of this affordable adjunct therapy (multivitamin supplementation) among HIV-infected adults receiving HAART in a developing country setting.Trial registrationClinical Trial Registration-URL: Unique identifier: NCT01228578.

Concepts: Antiretroviral drug, HIV, AIDS, Immune system, Dietary supplement, Anemia, Folic acid, Vitamin B12


BACKGROUND: Areca nut (commonly known as betel nut) chewing has been shown to be associated with metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease (CVD). The mechanism by which betel nut ingestion could lead to development of CVD is not precisely known; however, dyslipidemia hyperhomocysteinemia, hypertriglyceridemia and inflammation could be some of the potential risk factors. This study was undertaken to investigate the effects of two dosages of betel nut on homocysteinemia, inflammation and some of the components of metabolic syndrome, such as hypertriglyceridemia, low HDL-cholesterol, obesity and fasting hyperglycemia in a rat model. METHODS: Thirty-six adult female Sprague Dawley rats, aged 10–12 weeks were divided into three equal groups. Group-1 served as the control group (n = 12) and received water, whereas groups 2 and 3 were given water suspension of betel nut orally in two dosages, 30 mg and 60 mg, respectively for a period of 5 weeks. At the end of the fifth week, the animals were weighed and sacrificed, blood was collected and liver, kidney, spleen and stomach were removed for histological examination.Plasma/serum was analyzed for glucose, total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, homocysteine, folate, vitamin B12 and N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase (NAG) – a marker of inflammation. RESULTS: When the mean concentration values of 3 groups were compared using one way ANOVA followed by Tukey’s HSD-test, there was a significant increase in the concentration of total cholesterol (p = 0.04) in the group receiving 30 mg/day betel nut compared to the control group. However, administration of a higher dose of betel nut (60 mg/day) had no significant effect on the serum concentrations of glucose, total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and NAG. Histological examination of spleen revealed a dose-dependent extramedullary hematopoiesis. No other remarkable change in the tissues (liver, kidney and stomach) was observed.Mean serum/plasma levels of folate, vitamin B12 and homocysteine were not found to be significantly different in all the groups. Betel nut ingestion had no effect on the mean body weights of rats. CONCLUSIONS: Low dosage of betel nut is found to be associated with hypercholesterolemia. However, betel nut ingestion is not associated with hyperhomocysteinemia, hypertriglyceridemia, hyperglycemia, inflammation and increase in body weight in a rat model.

Concepts: Cholesterol, Nutrition, Atherosclerosis, Cardiovascular disease, Low-density lipoprotein, Folic acid, Laboratory rat, Areca nut


BACKGROUND: Strenuous physical activity can alter the status of folic acid, a vitamin directly associated with homocysteine (Hcy); alterations in this nutrient are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Handball players are a population at risk for nutrient deficiency because of poor dietary habits. OBJECTIVE: The aims of this study were to evaluate nutritional status for macronutrients and folic acid in members of a high-performance handball team, and determine the effect of a nutritional intervention with folic acid supplementation and education. DESIGN: A total of 14 high-performance handball players were monitored by recording training time, training intensity (according to three levels of residual heart rate (RHR): <60%, 60%--80% and >80%), and subjective perceived exertion (RPE) during a 4-month training period. Nutritional, laboratory and physical activity variables were recorded at baseline (Week 0), after 2 months of dietary supplementation with 200 mug folic acid (50% of the recommended daily allowance) (Week 8) and after 2 months without supplementation (Week 16). We compared training load and analyzed changes in plasma concentrations of Hcy before and after the intervention. RESULTS: Bivariate analysis showed a significant negative correlation (P < 0.01) between Hcy and folic acid concentrations (r = -0.84) at Week 8, reflecting a significant change in Hcy concentration (P < 0.05) as a result of hyperhomocysteinemia following the accumulation of high training loads. At Week 16 we observed a significant negative correlation (P < 0.01) between Hcy concentration and training time with an RHR <60%, indicating that aerobic exercise avoided abrupt changes in Hcy and may thus reduce the risk of cardiovascular accidents in high-performance athletes. CONCLUSION: Integral monitoring and education are needed for practitioners of handball sports to record their folic acid status, a factor that directly affects Hcy metabolism. Folic acid supplementation may protect athletes against alterations that can lead to cardiovascular events related to exertion during competition.

Concepts: Protein, Nutrition, Cardiovascular disease, Physical exercise, Vitamin, Essential nutrient, Folic acid, Homocysteine


Over the past few decades, food fortification and infant formula supplementation with high levels of vitamins have led to a sharp increase in vitamin intake among infants, children and adults. This is followed by a sharp increase in the prevalence of obesity and related diseases, with significant disparities among countries and different groups within a country. It has long been known that B vitamins at doses below their toxicity threshold strongly promote body fat gain. Studies have demonstrated that formulas, which have very high levels of vitamins, significantly promote infant weight gain, especially fat mass gain, a known risk factor for children developing obesity. Furthermore, ecological studies have shown that increased B vitamin consumption is strongly correlated with the prevalence of obesity and diabetes. We therefore hypothesize that excess vitamins may play a causal role in the increased prevalence of obesity. This review will discuss: (1) the causes of increased vitamin intake; (2) the non-monotonic effect of excess vitamin intake on weight and fat gain; and (3) the role of vitamin fortification in obesity disparities among countries and different groups within a country.

Concepts: Nutrition, Fat, Vitamin, Dietary supplement, Vitamins, Folic acid, B vitamins, Thiamine