European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 497–504 | Cite as

Factors affecting the distribution of folate forms in the serum of elderly German adults

  • Susanne H. Kirsch
  • Wolfgang Herrmann
  • Rudolf Eckert
  • Jürgen Geisel
  • Rima ObeidEmail author
Original Contribution



We investigated the roles of age, vitamin B12 markers, and the 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) C677T polymorphism as determinants of folate forms in serum.


We measured the serum concentrations of (6S)-5-CH3–H4folate, (6S)-H4folate, (6S)-5-HCO–H4folate, (6R)-5,10-CH+–H4folate, and folic acid in 146 non-supplemented older participants (median age 74 years). The concentrations of total vitamin B12, holotranscobalamin (holoTC), methylmalonic acid (MMA), and total homocysteine (tHcy) were also measured.


Elevated metabolites (MMA > 271 nmol/L and tHcy > 12.0 μmol/L) were found in 24.0 and 63.0 % of the participants, respectively. We found a significant age-dependent decrease (participants with a median age of 87 years compared with participants with a median age of 60 years) in the sum of serum folate levels, the (6S)-5-CH3–H4folate concentration, and the (6S)-5-CH3–H4folate proportion. In addition, participants with elevated metabolite levels were older, had lower concentrations of the sum of folates and (6S)-5-CH3–H4folate, and had higher concentrations of (6S)-5-CHO–H4folate and creatinine but had a comparable holoTC/total vitamin B12 ratio. No association was found between the MTHFR C677T genotype and serum folate forms.


Low serum (6S)-5-CH3–H4folate concentrations and the proportion of (6S)-5-CH3–H4folate (percentage of the sum of folate forms) are related to older age and elevated MMA and tHcy levels.


Folate Folic acid Age Elderly Vitamin B12 





Methylmalonic acid


5,10-Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase


Total homocysteine


Ultra-performance liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry



We thank Mrs. Marion Bodis and Mrs. Vera Kruse for their excellent assistance in the course of this study.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susanne H. Kirsch
    • 1
  • Wolfgang Herrmann
    • 1
  • Rudolf Eckert
    • 2
  • Jürgen Geisel
    • 1
  • Rima Obeid
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory MedicineSaarland University HospitalHomburgGermany
  2. 2.Geriatric Health CenterSt. IngbertGermany

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