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Homocysteine levels and dementia risk in Yoruba and African Americans

  • Hugh C. Hendrie (a1) (a2) (a3), Olusegun Baiyewu (a4), Kathleen A. Lane (a5), Christianna Purnell (a2), Sujuan Gao (a5), Ann Hake (a6), Adesola Ogunniyi (a7), Oye Gureje (a4), Frederick W. Unverzagt (a3), Jill Murrell (a8), Mark A. Deeg (a9) and Kathleen Hall (a3)...



High levels of homocysteine have been associated with increased risk for dementia although results have been inconsistent. There are no reported studies from the developing world including Africa.


In this longitudinal study of two community-dwelling cohorts of elderly Yoruba and African Americans, levels of homocysteine, vitamin B12 and folate were measured from blood samples taken in 2001. These levels were compared in two groups, participants who developed incident dementia in the follow-up until 2009 (59 Yoruba and 101 African Americans) and participants who were diagnosed as cognitively normal or in the good performance category at their last follow-up (760 Yoruba and 811 African Americans). Homocysteine levels were divided into quartiles for each site.


After adjusting for age, education, possession of ApoE, smoking, and time of enrollment the higher quartiles of homocysteine were associated with a non-significant increase in dementia risk in the Yoruba (homocysteine quartile 4 vs. 1 OR: 2.19, 95% CI 0.95–5.07, p = 0.066). For the African Americans, there was a similar but non-significant relationship between higher homocysteine levels and dementia risk. There were no significant relationships between levels of vitamin B12 and folate and incident dementia in either site although folate levels were lower and vitamin B12 levers were higher in the Yoruba than in the African Americans.


Increased homocysteine levels were associated with a similar but non-significant increase in dementia risk for both Yoruba and African Americans despite significant differences in folate levels between the two sites.


Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Hugh C. Hendrie, MB, ChB, DSc, Indiana University Center for Aging Research, 410 W 10th St., Suite 2000 Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA. Phone: +(317)-423-5591; Fax: +(317)-423-5695. Email:


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