Homocysteine and cognitive function in the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging

Joshua W. Miller, Ralph Green, Marisa I. Ramos, Lindsay H. Allen, Dan M Mungas, William J. Jagust, Mary N. Haan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


Background: Elevated plasma homocysteine (hyperhomocysteinemia), an independent risk factor for vascular disease, has been reported to be inversely correlated with objective measures of cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer disease and in community-dwelling older adults. Objective: We evaluated the cross-sectional relation between total plasma homocysteine concentration and cognitive function in elderly Latinos (aged ≥ 60 y; n = 1789) participating in the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging. Design: Global cognitive function was assessed by using the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination, and specific cognitive functions were assessed by using 6 instruments developed for cross-cultural and multilingual neuropsychological evaluation of older persons. Associations between the cognitive function scores and total plasma homocysteine concentrations were then measured by multiple regression analysis with control for potential confounding by nutrient status (red blood cell folate, plasma vitamin B-12), kidney function (serum creatinine), demographic variables (age, sex, education, acculturation), and depressive symptoms. Results: Modest inverse associations were found between homocysteine concentrations and several indexes of cognitive function, including the global Modified Mini-Mental State Examination assessment and the picture-association, verbal attention-span, and pattern-recognition tests (P ≤ 0.05). Demographic variables, particularly age and education, were more strongly associated with cognitive function scores than was homocysteine. Conclusions: Homocysteine is a modest independent predictor of cognitive function in community-dwelling elderly Latinos. Reducing plasma homocysteine concentrations by administering B-vitamin supplements may provide some protection against cognitive decline in this and other elderly populations, but the effect may be limited.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-447
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2003


  • Aging
  • Cognitive function
  • Creatinine
  • Elderly
  • Folate
  • Homocysteine
  • Latinos
  • Modified Mini-Mental State Examination
  • Vitamin B-12

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science


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