Homocysteine, antioxidant micronutrients and late onset dementia

Lawrence J Whalley, Susan J Duthie, Andrew R Collins, John M Starr, Ian J Deary, Helen Lemmon, Ashleigh C Duthie, Alison D Murray, Roger T Staff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE: To distinguish between contributions to dementia made by homocysteine, folate, B12 and antioxidant micronutrients. METHODS: This is a follow-up study of a sample reported in 2002. Homocysteine was measured at baseline in 201 individuals born in 1921 and without dementia at age 77 years and followed up to age 88 years. Baseline macro- and micronutrient status was estimated from BMI, the MONICA food frequency questionnaire, plasma folate, B12 and, in a subgroup (N = 173), plasma antioxidant micronutrients. Time to dementia onset during follow-up was compared between participants grouped by homocysteine concentration using Cox regression. Model 1 adjusted for age, sex, childhood IQ, education, socioeconomic deprivation, presence of heart disease, hypertension, plasma folate and B12. In model 2 plasma, antioxidants were added to these covariables. RESULTS: During a mean follow-up of about 5 years, there were 39 incident dementia cases among 201 participants. In model 1, being in the highest homocysteine group (>14 μmol/L) was associated with a 234 % increased risk (HR 3.34, 95 % CI 1.16-9.57) of any dementia. After inclusion of plasma antioxidants in model 2, there were 32 incident dementia cases from a subsample (N = 173). Homocysteine >14 μmol was associated with a 272 % increased dementia risk (HR = 3.72, 95 % CI 1.06-13.08). CONCLUSIONS: High homocysteine increases the risk of dementia. The association between tHcy and dementia is independent of plasma folate, B12 and antioxidant micronutrient status.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-285
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue number1
Early online date27 Apr 2013
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014

Bibliographical note

The Biological Sciences and Biotechnology Research Council (UK) and Alzheimer Research UK supported this study. The authors’ contributions were as follows—Follow-up studies of the Aberdeen 1921 Birth Cohort were designed and supervised by LW, ID and JS. Nutritional measurements were provided by SD and AC. Clinical data, including dementia diagnoses were collected and validated by LW, AM, RS, HL and AD. Data were analysed independently by LW and JS. All authors contributed to preparation of the manuscript. The final version of this report was approved by all authors. None of the funding agencies had any involvement in the design and conduct of the study; in the collection of data; management of the study; analysis or interpretation of the data; or in the preparation, review of the manuscript. None of the authors had any competing interests and all are independent of the funding bodies. The Aberdeen 1921 Birth Cohort nutrition studies were supported primarily by grants from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (1999–2002), the Wellcome Trust (2001–2006) and the University of Aberdeen Development Trust (2006–2010).


  • homocysteine
  • vitamin B12
  • folate
  • plasma antioxidants
  • dementia


Dive into the research topics of 'Homocysteine, antioxidant micronutrients and late onset dementia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this