Original Article

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2010) 64, 289–296; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2009.143; published online 20 January 2010

Serum folate and homocysteine and depressive symptoms among Japanese men and women

Contributors: AN was responsible for the data collection, data analysis, and paper preparation. TM was involved in the design of the study, data collection, data management, provided statistical expertise and contributed to the paper preparation. YM was involved in the data collection. SS was involved in the design of the study and data management. MO and MS were involved in the data collection. NM was involved in the design of the study. All the authors read and approved the paper.

A Nanri1, T Mizoue1, Y Matsushita1, S Sasaki2, M Ohta3, M Sato4 and N Mishima5

  1. 1Department of Epidemiology and International Health, Research Institute, International Medical Center of Japan, Tokyo, Japan
  2. 2Department of Social and Preventive Epidemiology, School of Public Heath, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
  3. 3Department of Health Development, University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Kitakyushu, Japan
  4. 4Department of Applied Biological Chemistry, Graduate School of Bioresource and Bioenvironmental Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan
  5. 5Ikemi Memorial Clinic of Mind-Body Medicine, Fukuoka, Japan

Correspondence: A Nanri, Department of Epidemiology and International Health, Research Institute, International Medical Center of Japan, Toyama 1-21-1, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8655, Japan. E-mail: nanri@ri.imcj.go.jp

Received 10 February 2009; Revised 18 November 2009; Accepted 19 November 2009; Published online 20 January 2010.





Folate and homocysteine have been implicated to have a role in depression. However, results of epidemiologic studies on this issue have been inconsistent. The objective of this study was to clarify the association between serum folate and homocysteine concentrations and depressive symptoms in Japanese adults.



We analyzed cross-sectional data for 530 municipal employees (313 men and 217 women), aged 21–67 years, who participated in a health survey at the time of periodic checkup. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) scale. Logistic regression analysis was used to estimate odds ratios of depressive symptoms (CES-D scale scores of greater than or equal to16) with adjustment for potential confounding variables.



In total, 113 men (36.1%) and 79 women (36.4%) had depressive symptoms. A higher serum folate was associated with a decreased prevalence of depressive symptoms in men. The multivariate-adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence interval) of depressive symptoms for the lowest to highest quartiles of serum folate were 1.00 (reference), 0.53 (0.27–1.03), 0.33 (0.16–0.68) and 0.51 (0.25–1.03), respectively (trend P=0.03). Furthermore, the data suggested a positive association between serum homocysteine and depressive symptoms in men (trend P=0.06). In women, neither folate nor homocysteine was associated with depressive symptoms.



Low serum folate may be related to an increased prevalence of depressive symptoms in Japanese men.


depression; folate; homocysteine; cross-sectional studies; Japanese

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