A study was made to assess the value of cobalamin deficiency detection through quantitation of urinary methylmalonic acid (MMA). Urinary MMA was measured in 1118 patients suffering from megaloblastic anemia, other anemias, elevated red cell mean corpuscular volume, or unexplained neurologic disorders. Patients without proven cobalamin deficiency had urinary MMA levels less than 20 micrograms/ml. All patients (n = 27) confirmed to have cobalamin deficiency showed MMA levels greater than 20 micrograms/ml. Data are presented showing the Schilling test results, the comparison of serum cobalamin to urinary MMA levels, and other basic hematologic data. MMA levels are a good indication of cobalamin distribution and function since they are directly related to a cobalamin-dependent metabolic pathway. With rapid, reliable quantitation by mass spectrometry, urinary MMA can now be a useful clinical test.

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