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The Usefulness of Holotranscobalamin in Predicting Vitamin B12 Status in Different Clinical Settings

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Serum concentrations of homocysteine (Hcy) and methylmalonic acid (MMA) become increased in B12- deficient subjects and are therefore, considered specific markers of B12 deficiency. Serum level of holotranscobalamin (holoTC) becomes decreased before the development of the metabolic dysfunction. We investigated the usefulness of holoTC in diagnosing B12 deficiency in some clinical settings. We measured serum concentrations of holoTC, MMA, Hcy and total B12 in omnivores, vegetarians, elderly people and haemodialysis patients. Our results indicated that the incidence of holoTC <35 pmol / L was highest in the vegans (76%). Low holoTC and elevated MMA were detected in 64% of the vegans and 43% of the lacto- and lacto-ovovegetarians. An elevated MMA and a low holoTC were found in subjects with total serum B12 as high as 300 pmol / L. The distribution of holoTC in elderly people was similar to that in younger adults (median holoTC 55 pmol / L in both groups). A low holoTC and an elevated MMA were found in 16% of the elderly group. An elevated MMA and a normal holoTC were found in 20% of the elderly group who had a relatively high median serum concentration of creatinine (106.1 μmol / L). Serum concentrations of holoTC in dialysis patients were considerably higher than all other groups (median 100 pmol / L). This was also associated with severely increased serum levels of MMA (median 987 nmol / L). From these results it can be concluded that serum concentration of holoTC is a much better predictor of B12 status than total B12. This was particularly evident in case of dietary B12 deficiency. Serum concentrations of holoTC as well as MMA can be affected by renal dysfunction. Elevated MMA and normal holoTC in patients with renal insufficiency may not exclude vitamin B12 deficiency. HoloTC seems not to be a promising marker in predicting B12 status in renal patients.
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Keywords: holotranscobalamin; homocysteine; methylmalonic acid; vitamin b12

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Department of Clinical Chemistry / central laboratory, University Hospital of Saarland, Building 57, 66421 Homburg / Saar, Germany.

Publication date: February 1, 2005

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  • Current Drug Metabolism aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments in drug metabolism and disposition. The journal serves as an international forum for the publication of timely reviews in drug metabolism. Current Drug Metabolism is an essential journal for academic, clinical, government and pharmaceutical scientists who wish to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments. The journal covers the following areas:

    In vitro systems including CYP-450; enzyme induction and inhibition; drug-drug interactions and enzyme kinetics; pharmacokinetics, toxicokinetics, species scaling and extrapolations; P-glycoprotein and transport carriers; target organ toxicity and interindividual variability; drug metabolism and disposition studies; extrahepatic metabolism; phase I and phase II metabolism; recent developments for the identification of drug metabolites and adducts.
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