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Concept: Methylcobalamin


To investigate the absorption of synthetic cyanocobalamin and natural occurring hydroxocobalamin in populations with low and normal cobalamin (vitamin B12) status.

Concepts: Vitamin B12, B vitamins, Methylcobalamin, Cyanocobalamin, Hydroxocobalamin


Many studies indicate a crucial role for the vitamin B12 and folate-dependent enzyme methionine synthase (MS) in brain development and function, but vitamin B12 status in the brain across the lifespan has not been previously investigated. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin, Cbl) exists in multiple forms, including methylcobalamin (MeCbl) and adenosylcobalamin (AdoCbl), serving as cofactors for MS and methylmalonylCoA mutase, respectively. We measured levels of five Cbl species in postmortem human frontal cortex of 43 control subjects, from 19 weeks of fetal development through 80 years of age, and 12 autistic and 9 schizophrenic subjects. Total Cbl was significantly lower in older control subjects (> 60 yrs of age), primarily reflecting a >10-fold age-dependent decline in the level of MeCbl. Levels of inactive cyanocobalamin (CNCbl) were remarkably higher in fetal brain samples. In both autistic and schizophrenic subjects MeCbl and AdoCbl levels were more than 3-fold lower than age-matched controls. In autistic subjects lower MeCbl was associated with decreased MS activity and elevated levels of its substrate homocysteine (HCY). Low levels of the antioxidant glutathione (GSH) have been linked to both autism and schizophrenia, and both total Cbl and MeCbl levels were decreased in glutamate-cysteine ligase modulatory subunit knockout (GCLM-KO) mice, which exhibit low GSH levels. Thus our findings reveal a previously unrecognized decrease in brain vitamin B12 status across the lifespan that may reflect an adaptation to increasing antioxidant demand, while accelerated deficits due to GSH deficiency may contribute to neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders.

Concepts: Cerebral cortex, Hippocampus, Folic acid, Vitamin B12, Frontal lobe, Cysteine, Methionine, Methylcobalamin


Plasma vitamin B-12 is the most commonly used biomarker of vitamin B-12 status, but the predictive value for low vitamin B-12 status is poor. The urinary methylmalonic acid (uMMA) concentration has potential as a functional biomarker of vitamin B-12 status, but the response to supplemental vitamin B-12 is uncertain. A study was conducted to investigate the responsiveness of uMMA to supplemental vitamin B-12 in comparison with other biomarkers of vitamin B-12 status [plasma vitamin B-12, serum holotranscobalamin (holoTC), plasma MMA] in elderly people with moderately poor vitamin B-12 status. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized 8-wk intervention study was carried out using vitamin B-12 supplements (500 μg/d, 100 μg/d, and 10 μg/d cyanocobalamin) in 100 elderly people with a combined plasma vitamin B-12 <250 pmol/L and uMMA ratio (μmol MMA/mmol creatinine) >1.5. All biomarkers had a dose response to supplemental vitamin B-12. Improvements in plasma vitamin B-12 and serum holoTC were achieved at cobalamin supplements of 10 μg/d, but even 500 μg/d for 8 wk did not normalize plasma vitamin B-12 in 8% and serum holoTC in 12% of people. The response in uMMA was comparable with plasma MMA; 15-25% of people still showed evidence of metabolic deficiency after 500 μg/d cobalamin for 8 wk. There was a differential response in urinary and plasma MMA according to smoking behavior; the response was enhanced in ex-smokers compared with never-smokers. uMMA offers an alternative marker of metabolic vitamin-B12 status, obviating the need for blood sampling.

Concepts: Blood, Vitamin, Dietary supplement, Sociology, Vitamin B12, Methylmalonic acid, Vitamin B12 deficiency, Methylcobalamin


Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is required for proper red blood cell formation, neurologic function, and DNA synthesis. Cobalamins in solutions are light sensitive, but no comprehensive study has been performed to compare the photostability of different cobalamins under UVA exposure. Their indirect photodegradation due to their antioxidant properties and their photostability in vivo have also not been studied so far. The photodegradation of four cobalamins (methylcobalamin (MeCbl), adenosylcobalamin (AdCbl), hydroxocobalamin (OHCbl) and cyanocobalamin (CNCbl)) under UVA exposure in aqueous solutions (pH=7.4) have been investigated by absorption spectroscopy. The photodegradation of OHCbl in the absence and presence of the endogenous photosensitizer riboflavin was studied. Serum vitamin B12 concentrations before and after summer were measured in four patients with psoriasis. All studied cobalamins are photolabile. The biologically active forms of cobalamin, AdCbl and MeCbl, are converted to OHCbl within seconds during UVA exposure. OHCbl is the most stable cobalamin. However, reactive oxygen species increases the degradation rate of OHCbl. Our pilot study on humans demonstrates that serum vitamin B12 concentrations are not significantly affected during summertime in Norway. Further work is needed to determine vitamin B12 photostability in humans living at lower latitudes or using sunbeds.

Concepts: Oxygen, Blood, Red blood cell, Liver, Vitamin B12, Methylcobalamin, Cyanocobalamin, Hydroxocobalamin


Cobalamin deficiency is common in patients with Crohn’s disease (CD). Intramuscular cobalamin continues to be the standard therapy for the deficiency and maintenance treatment in these patients, although oral route has been demonstrated to be effective in other pathologies with impaired absorption. Our aims were to evaluate the efficacy of oral therapy in the treatment of cobalamin deficiency and in long-term maintenance in patients with Crohn’s disease. We performed a multicenter retrospective cohort study that included 94 patients with Crohn’s disease and cobalamin deficiency. Seventy-six patients had B12 deficiency and 94.7% of them normalized their cobalamin levels with oral treatment. The most used dose was 1 mg/day, but there were no significant differences in treatment effectiveness depending on the dose used (≥1 mg/24 h vs. <1 mg/24 h). Eighty-two patients had previous documented B12 deficiency and were treated with oral B12 to maintain their correct cobalamin levels. After a mean follow-up of 3 years, the oral route was effective as maintenance treatment in 81.7% of patients. A lack of treatment adherence was admitted by 46.6% of patients in who the oral route failed. In conclusion, our study shows that oral cyanocobalamin provides effective acute and maintenance treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency caused by CD with or without ileum resection.

Concepts: Cohort study, Megaloblastic anemia, Vitamin B12, B vitamins, Malabsorption, Vitamin B12 deficiency, Subacute combined degeneration of spinal cord, Methylcobalamin


Vitamin B12 was determined and characterized in 19 dried Chlorella health supplements. Vitamin contents of dried Chlorella cells varied from < 0.1 μg to approximately 415 μg per 100 g dry weight. Subsequent liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry analyses showed the presence of inactive corrinoid compounds, a cobalt-free corrinoid, and 5-methoxybenzimidazolyl cyanocobamide (factor IIIm) in four and three high vitamin B12-containing Chlorella tablets, respectively. In four Chlorella tablet types with high and moderate vitamin B12 contents, the coenzyme forms of vitamin B12 5'-deoxyadenosylcobalamin (approximately 32%) and methylcobalamin (approximately 8%) were considerably present, whereas the unnaturally occurring corrinoid cyanocobalamin was present at the lowest concentrations. The species Chlorella sorokiniana (formerly C. pyrenoidosa) is commonly used in dietary supplements and did not show an absolute requirement of vitamin B12 for growth despite vitamin B12 uptake from the medium being observed. In further experiments, vitamin B12-dependent methylmalonyl-CoA mutase and methionine synthase activities were detected in cell homogenates. In particular, methionine synthase activity was significantly increased following the addition of vitamin B12 to the medium. These results suggest that vitamin B12 contents of Chlorella tablets reflect the presence of vitamin B12 generating organic ingredients in the medium or the concomitant growth of vitamin B12-synthesizing bacteria under open culture conditions.

Concepts: Vitamin, Vitamin B12, Cofactor, Methionine, Chlorella, Methylcobalamin, Cyanocobalamin, Methylmalonyl-CoA mutase


Methylcobalamin (MeCbl) and adenosylcobalamin (AdoCbl) are coenzymes for methionine synthase and methylmalonylCoA-mutase, respectively. Hydroxylcobalamin (HOCbl) and cyanocobalamin (CNCbl) are frequently used for supplementation. MeCbl and AdoCbl have recently emerged as alternative forms in supplements. In the light of metabolic transformation of Cbl into its co-factor forms, this review discusses current evidence on efficacy and utility of different Cbl forms in preventing or treating Cbl deficiency. Cbl-transporting proteins bind and mediate the uptake of all aforementioned forms of Cbl. After internalization and lysosomal release, Cbl binds to the cytosolic chaperon MMACHC that is responsible for (i) flavin-dependent decyanation of [CN-Co(3+) ]Cbl to [Co(2+) ]Cbl; (ii) glutathione-dependent dealkylation of MeCbl and AdoCbl to [Co(2+/1+) ]Cbl; and (iii) glutathione-dependent decyanation of CNCbl or reduction of HOCbl under anaerobic conditions. MMACHC shows a broad specificity for Cbl forms and supplies the Cbl(2+) intermediate for synthesis of MeCbl and AdoCbl. Cobalamin chemistry, physiology and biochemistry suggest that MeCbl and AdoCbl follow the same route of intracellular processing as CNCbl does. We conclude that supplementing MeCbl or AdoCbl is unlikely to be advantageous compared to CNCbl. On the other hand, there are obvious advantages of high parenteral doses (1-2 mg) of HOCbl in treating inborn errors of Cbl metabolism. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Protein, Metabolism, Vitamin B12, All rights reserved, Cofactor, Inborn error of metabolism, Copyright, Methylcobalamin


Standard treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency has not been well established in childhood, the ideal amount of supplemental vitamin B12 is not clear. Vitamin B12 deficiency is classically treated with intramuscular injections. In this study, we aimed to investigate the efficacy of oral therapy in children with vitamin B12 deficiency. Patients with serum cobalamin concentrations <300 pg/mL aged between 6 months to 18 years were included in this prospective study. Children were treated orally either with a combination of multivitamin tablet daily or vitamin B12 ampules. Serum specimens were obtained at the end of first and third months of treatment for vitamin B12 levels. A total of 79 patients were included in the study. The mean pretreatment vitamin B12 level increased from 182±47.6 pg/mL to 482±318 pg/mL after 1 month of treatment in the whole cohort. Comparison of the pretreatment vitamin B12 levels with first and third month posttreatment values showed significant difference (P-value, 0.001 and 0.028, respectively). In this study, oral cyanocobalamin was found effective for the treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency in children.

Concepts: Vitamin, Dietary supplement, Megaloblastic anemia, Vitamin B12, B vitamins, Vitamin B12 deficiency, Subacute combined degeneration of spinal cord, Methylcobalamin


Aim Epidemiological studies have indicated importance of folate and vitamin (B12) during pregnancy. Also available evidence on efficacy of B12 forms viz. Cyanocobalamin (Cbl), Methylcobalamin (MeCbl), Adenosylcobalamin (AdCbl) and Hydroxycobalamin (HCbl) in preventing or treating cobalamin deficiency is limited. The present study examines the effect of various B12 forms in combination with folate during pregnancy and their effect on gestational outcomes.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Vitamin, Folic acid, Vitamin B12, B vitamins, Methylcobalamin, Cyanocobalamin, Hydroxocobalamin


Cobalamin (vitamin B12 [Cbl]) is an essential cofactor for many biochemical pathways. Transcobalamin (TC) is required to internalize Cbl into the cells through membrane receptor-mediated endocytosis. Cbl is then processed in the cytoplasm and mitochondria by complementation factors leading to its active metabolites; methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosyl-cobalamin. Deficiency of TC results in an elevation in methylmalonic acid and homocysteine. Patients usually present with macrocytic anemia, pancytopenia, failure to thrive, gastrointestinal symptoms, and neurological dysfunction. In this study, we report 4 patients from 2 unrelated families, with confirmed diagnosis of TC deficiency. Patients initially had a typical presentation of TC deficiency: severe diarrhea and vomiting, recurrent infections, stomatitis, macrocytic anemia, and neutropenia. Interestingly one of the patients was diagnosed at 3 months of age and developed ataxic gait related to cerebellar atrophy at the age of 14 months. His elder affected sibling was diagnosed at 5 months of age was completely normal. Two sibs, diagnosed at 2 months of age and immediately after birth, had autism spectrum disorder. Molecular investigations showed 2 novel mutations in TCN2 gene. Patients were treated and stayed stable on weekly injection of Cbl. In conclusion, TC deficiency has a wide heterogeneity in clinical phenotype, genotype, laboratory, and radiologic findings. Early detection of the disease and early initiation of aggressive parenteral treatment is probably associated with better prognosis and disease control.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Metabolism, Anemia, Folic acid, Vitamin B12, Autism spectrum, Methylcobalamin