Vitamin B12 malabsorption in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome

Academic Article


  • We have examined 11 patients with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) for evidence of subclinical vitamin B12 malabsorption. Three subjects (27%) had low levels of vitamin B12. Eight subjects (73%), including these 3 subjects plus 5 others with normal vitamin B12 levels, had abnormal Schilling test results. In addition, 15% of an unselected population of 121 patients with AIDS and 7% of 27 patients without AIDS who were seropositive for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) had low serum vitamin B12 levels. Stool cultures from the 8 subjects with abnormal Schilling test results revealed no pathogens. Intestinal involvement by Kaposi's sarcoma was found in only 1 patient. Biopsy specimens from 5 of 6 patients with vitamin B12 malabsorption, however, contained mononuclear cells harboring HIV-1, as indicated by in situ hybridization studies. Our observations suggest that vitamin B12 malabsorption is common in patients with AIDS and may be a very early manifestation of infection with HIV-1.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Harriman GR; Smith PD; Horne MK; Fox CH; Koenig S; Lack EE; Lane C; Fauci AS
  • Start Page

  • 2039
  • End Page

  • 2041
  • Volume

  • 149
  • Issue

  • 9