The histopathological evaluation of small fiber neuropathy in patients with vitamin B12 deficiency

Gunes H. N., Bekircan-Kurt C. E., Tan E., ERDEM ÖZDAMAR S.

ACTA NEUROLOGICA BELGICA, vol.118, no.3, pp.405-410, 2018 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 118 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s13760-017-0847-y
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.405-410
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Small fiber neuropathy (SFN), due to loss of A-delta and unmyelinated C fibers, is a cause of neuropathic pain. Although the patients with vitamin B12 deficiency are included in SFN studies in the literature, there is no histopathological study investigating the small fiber loss solely in patients with vitamin B12 deficiency. In this pilot study, we aim to demonstrate the intraepidermal nerve fiber density (IENFD) in skin punch biopsy of patients with vitamin B12 deficiency. Ten patients with vitamin B12 deficiency suffering from neuropathic pain and as control group ten patients with vitamin B12 deficiency without neuropathic pain were included. Neurological examination, electrophysiological evaluation, and DN4 questionnaire were performed. Subsequently, skin punch biopsy 10 cm above the lateral malleolus was done. The biopsy samples were stained with PGP9.5 antibody, and IENFD was determined. IENFD was low in two groups compared to their age normative values. The median of IENFD was 3.345 (1.12-5.32) in patients with neuropathic pain and 6. 20 (4.6-9.8) in controls (p < 0.001). Our pilot study showed that vitamin B12 deficiency causes symptomatic as well as asymptomatic small fiber loss like diabetes mellitus.