Folic acid-responsive neurological diseases in Japan.
J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2001 Jun;47(3):181-7. PMID: 11575572
Third Department of Internal Medicine, Hiroshima University School of Medicine, Japan.
Folic acid (folate) levels were measured in the serum of patients with various neurological diseases in Japan. Thirty-six patients showed decreased serum folate levels among 343 consecutive neurological patients (10.5%). Folate administration (15 mg/d) to folate-deficient patients improved neurological symptoms in 24 of 36 cases (67%). Serum folate levels were significantly lower in female than in male folate-deficient patients. Folate-deficient patients showed predominantly axonal neuropathy, which responded to folate supplementation more markedly. Male patients more frequently exhibited neuropathy, especially demyelinating and motor-dominant neuropathy, than females. Anemia was correlated with male sex and low serum folate levels. Male patients were more responsive than females to folate treatment. More male patients had taken excess alcohol or received gastrectomies than females. Neurological symptoms were more frequently improved by folate supplementation in patients with neuropathy than exclusive encephalopathy. Serum folate levels were lower in patients with encephalopathy, especially those with dementia, while folate therapy was more effective in neurological patients without dementia. Dysgeusia and anemia improved in all patients after folate administration. Neurological patients with malabsorption or treated with continuous drip infusion were resistant to folate therapy. Since folate-responsive neuroencepahlopathies are not rare among patients with neurological diseases in Japan, the serum folate level would serve as a valuable indicator for folate supplement therapy.