Homocysteine, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase C677T polymorphism and cognitive impairment: the health in men study.
High total plasma homocysteine (tHcy) has been associated with cognitive impairment in later life, but it is unclear if this association is causal or is due to confounding. The C677T polymorphism of the 5,10 methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene (MTHFR) increases basal tHcy, but its contribution to cognitive impairment has not been established. We designed this study to determine if tHcy is causally related to cognitive impairment in later life by investigating its association with high tHcy and the MTHFR-C677T polymorphism. We recruited 1778 older men from the Health in Men Study cohort and established caseness on the basis of the participants' scores on a Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status score 27 in 2008. Exposure to tHcy, gene status and other variables of interest were obtained from assessments 4-7 years earlier. Multivariate logistic regression showed that the odds of cognitive impairment increased with a doubling of tHcy (adjusted odds ratio, OR 1.36; 95% confidence interval, 95% CI 1.02-1.82). Compared with the wild CC genotype, participants with the MTHFR-TT genotype had 46% greater odds of cognitive impairment (OR 1.46, 95% CI 1.01-2.11, P=0.043). The results of this study are consistent with, but do not prove the hypothesis that high tHcy causes cognitive impairment in later life.