Research Report, Summarized by Mary McNeil, SjSC
A small study conducted by researchers at Angers University Hospital in France concluded that patients with primary Sjögren’s are six times more likely to have B12 deficiencies than a control group. The study entitled “Association of Primary Sjögren’s Syndrome and Vitamin B12 Deficiency: A Cross-Sectional Case-Control Study” was published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine in December 2020. The researchers noted that previous studies had raised the importance of screening Sjögren’s patients for B12, but without the use of control groups, definitive conclusions could not be made. Around 1.5% of the general population and up to 10 to 15% of persons over 60 years of age are affected by low B12. Researchers noted that the association between Sjögren’s and B12 deficiency is even more important because several symptoms such as chronic fatigue, neuropathy and mucosal issues are common to both conditions.
The study included 126 patients hospitalized in internal medicine: 21 Sjögren’s patients and 105 without Sjögren’s who served as controls and were matched on age and sex. Patients were excluded from the study if their B12 deficiency was due to other causes such as pernicious anemia. The median age was 70 and 92.5% were women. Several methods of data collection were used to investigate patients’ B12 status including several different plasma biomarkers. The results showed that 42.9% of Sjögren’s patients presented a B12 deficiency while in the control group the insufficiency was 11.4%. Also noteworthy was that both iron deficiency and lower levels of hemoglobin were also significantly more frequent among Sjögren’s patients. Researchers also noticed that Sjögren’s patients with B12 deficiency were younger than Sjögren’s patients without low B12. They also speculated that as both conditions may cause neuropathy, that Sjögren’s patients could be more prone to suffer from small or large fiber neuropathy.
The researchers key conclusion was that their study “justifies screening and treating B12 deficiency in primary Sjögren’s patients”.
Urbanski G., Chabrun F., Schaepelynck B., et.al. Journal of Clinical Medicine, Dec.16, 2020.