Measurement of serum cobalamin levels is routinely used to diagnose cobalamin deficiency. Surprisingly, approximately 15% of patients have high cobalamin levels and no consensus exists regarding the clinical implications.
Hospital-treated patients above 18 years of age referred for serum cobalamin measurement were included in groups of patients [percentage cobalamin supplemented] with low (<200 pmol/L, n = 200 [6%]), normal (200–600, n = 202 [6%]) high (601–1000, n = 217 [27%]) and very high (>1000, n = 199 [53%]) cobalamin levels. Total and cobalamin-saturated (holo) transcobalamin, total haptocorrin, soluble TC receptor, sCD320, and methylmalonic acid were analyzed. Data on diagnoses and medical prescriptions was obtained through medical files and the Aarhus University Prescription Database.
Among patients not cobalamin supplemented median total haptocorrin and holo transcobalamin levels were markedly higher in the groups with high/very high cobalamin levels compared to groups with low/normal cobalamin levels. Median total transcobalamin and sCD320 levels were similar across the groups. A number of diagnoses were significantly associated to very high Cbl levels (odds ratio (95% confidence interval)): alcoholism (5.74 (2.76–11.96)), liver disease (8.53 (3.59–20.23)), and cancer (5.48 (2.85–10.55)). Elevated haptocorrin levels were seen in patients with alcoholism, cancer, liver-, renal-, autoimmune-, and bronchopulmonary disease. No clinical associations to sCD320 and total and holo transcobalamin levels were found.
In non-supplemented patients, high cobalamin levels were associated to high haptocorrin levels, and several diagnoses, including alcoholism, liver disease and cancer. Our study emphasizes that clinicians should take high serum cobalamin levels into consideration in the diagnostic process.