Article ID: EJ13-0332
Aim of the study was to clarify the relationship between metformin-induced B12 deficiency, hyperhomocysteinemia and vascular complications in patients with type 2 diabetes. Serum B12 concentrations, homocysteine plasma levels, the presence of retinopathy and history of macroangiopathy (stroke or coronary heart disease) were analyzed in patients without renal dysfunction (serum creatinine<115 μmol/l). Firstly, B12 status was analyzed in 62 consecutive metformin-treated patients. Secondly, the relationship between B12, homocysteine and vascular complications was analyzed in 46 metformin-treated and 38 age- and sex-matched non-metformin-treated patients. Among the 62 consecutive metformin-treated patients, B12 was deficient (<150 pmol/l) in 8 (13%) and borderline-deficient (150-220 pmol/l) in 18 (29%): the larger the metformin dosage, the lower the B12 (P = 0.02, ρ = -0.30). There were independent correlations between metformin use and B12 lowering (P = 0.02, r = -0.25), and B12 lowering and elevation of homocysteine (P<0.01, r = -0.34). Elevation of homocysteine was a risk for retinopathy (P = 0.02, OR 1.26, 95%CI 1.04-1.52). There was no significant relation between homocysteine and macroangiopathy. Correlation between B12 and homocysteine was stronger in metformin-treated (P<0.01, r = -0.48) than non-metformin-treated (P = 0.04, r = -0.38) patients. In ten B12 deficient patients, B12 supplementation (1,500 μg/day) for 2.2±1.0 months with continued use of metformin raised B12 levels: 152±42 and 299±97 pmol/l before and after treatment, respectively (P<0.01). Metformin-induced B12 lowering in diabetes was associated with elevation of homocysteine, and hyperhomocysteinemia was independently related to retinopathy. Metformin-induced B12 deficiency was correctable with B12 supplementation.