It has been suggested that vitamin B12 (vit.B12) plays an important role in immune system regulation, but the details are still obscure. In order to examine the action of vit.B12 on cells of the human immune system, lymphocyte subpopulations and NK cell activity were evaluated in 11 patients with vit.B12 deficiency anaemia and in 13 control subjects. Decreases in the number of lymphocytes and CD8+ cells and in the proportion of CD4+ cells, an abnormally high CD4/CD8 ratio, and suppressed NK cell activity were noted in patients compared with control subjects. In all 11 patients and eight control subjects, these immune parameters were evaluated before and after methyl-B12 injection. The lymphocyte counts and number of CD8+ cells increased both in patients and in control subjects. The high CD4/CD8 ratio and suppressed NK cell activity were improved by methyl-B12 treatment. Augmentation of CD3-CD16+ cells occurred in patients after methyl-B12 treatment. In contrast, antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) activity, lectin-stimulated lymphocyte blast formation, and serum levels of immunoglobulins were not changed by methyl-B12 treatment. These results indicate that vit.B12 might play an important role in cellular immunity, especially relativing to CD8+ cells and the NK cell system, which suggests effects on cytotoxic cells. We conclude that vit.B12 acts as an immunomodulator for cellular immunity.
Tamura J, Kubota K, Murakami H, Sawamura M, Matsushima T, Tamura T, Saitoh T, Kurabayshi H, Naruse T. Immunomodulation by vitamin B12: augmentation of CD8+ T lymphocytes and natural killer (NK) cell activity in vitamin B12-deficient patients by methyl-B12 treatment. Clin Exp Immunol. 1999 April Third Department of Internal Medicine, Gunma University School of Medicine, Maebashi, Japan.