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October 2006

Homocysteine, apolipoproteine E and methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase in Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment.

BACKGROUND: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common dementia disorder in elderly people. Currently, the only known genetic factor associated with the development of sporadic AD is the apolipoprotein E (ApoE) 4 allele. There is a need to identify other environmental and genetic risk factors that could modulate the risk of developing sporadic AD. OBJECTIVE: To analyse the correlation between the ApoE and methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) C677T polymorphism and plasma homocysteine levels and vitamins (B(12) and folic acid) concentrations in serum from patients with AD and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) as compared with control group. METHODS: The study was carried out in 99 AD patients, 98 subjects with MCI and 100 healthy subjects. Diagnosis of probable AD was made according to the NINCDS-ADRDA and DSM-IV criteria. The following factors were analysed: age, gender, duration of disease, concentration of plasma total homocysteine, folic acid and vitamin B(12) in the serum and the polymorphism of MTHRF and ApoE genes. The results obtained were analysed by multivariate analysis of regression. RESULTS: We found that plasma total homocysteine is increased in AD patients (p < 0.0001) and depended on the MTHFR T/T genotype in the presence of low folate levels (p < 0.05). The increased frequency of ApoE4 allele in the AD population was independent of homocysteine, folic acid and vitamin B(12) levels and MTHFR status. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that the concentration of plasma total homocysteine is increased in AD patients. This may be associated with the T/T genotype in the MTHFR gene; however, the distribution of the MTHRF C677T polymorphism in the Polish population does not differ in AD and controls.

Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2003;16(2):64-70

Comparative effects of hydroxocobalamin and cyanocobalamin on plasma homocysteine concentrations in end-stage renal disease.

End-stage renal disease (ESRD) is associated with marked hyperhomocysteinemia which is only partially corrected by folic acid and pyridoxine supplementation. We and others have reported that various forms of parenteral cobalamin reduce plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) concentrations of patients with ESRD substantially below the lowest levels attainable with folic acid. We here report a 16-week randomized controlled crossover trial which directly compared the Hcy-lowering effect of intravenous hydroxocobalamin (HC) with that of cyanocobalamin (CC). Folic acid- and vitamin B12-replete maintenance hemodialysis patients were randomly assigned to receive either 1 mg intravenous HC weekly for 8 weeks followed by CC for a further 8 weeks, or CC for 8 weeks followed by HC for 8 weeks. Hydroxocobalamin increased serum cobalamin concentrations 40-fold, whereas CC increased them only 10-fold, but both treatments reduced plasma tHcy concentrations similarly by 33% (P < .001). Crossover to the alternate form of the vitamin greatly affected the serum cobalamin concentration but was without further effect on the plasma tHcy concentration. These results confirm that weekly cobalamin injections lower plasma tHcy concentrations of hemodialysis patients well below the level attainable with folic acid. Hydroxocobalamin and CC are equipotent despite producing very different serum cobalamin concentrations.

Metabolism. 2005 Oct;54(10):1362-7

Orally administered betaine has an acute and dose-dependent effect on serum betaine and plasma homocysteine concentrations in healthy humans.

Betaine, i.e., trimethylglycine, is linked to homocysteine metabolism. A 3-mo daily betaine supplementation decreased even normal plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) concentrations in humans. The pharmacokinetic characteristics and metabolism of betaine in humans have not been investigated in detail. The aim of this study was to assess the pharmacokinetics of orally administered betaine and its acute effect on plasma tHcy concentrations. Healthy volunteers (n = 10; 3 men, 7 women) with normal body weight (mean +/- SD, 69.5 +/- 17.0 kg), 40.8 +/- 12.4 y old, participated in the study. The betaine doses were 1, 3, and 6 g. The doses were mixed with 150 mL of orange juice and ingested after a 12-h overnight fast by each volunteer according to a randomized double-blind crossover design. Blood samples were drawn for 24 h and a 24-h urine collection was performed. Orally administered betaine had an immediate and dose-dependent effect on serum betaine concentration. Single doses of 3 and 6 g lowered plasma tHcy concentrations (P = 0.019 and P < 0.001, respectively), unlike the 1-g dose. After the highest dose, the concentrations remained low during the 24 h of monitoring. The change in plasma tHcy concentration was linearly associated with betaine dose (P = 0.006) and serum betaine concentration (R2 = 0.17, P = 0.025). The absorption and elimination of betaine were dose dependent. The urinary excretion of betaine seemed to increase with an increasing betaine dose, although a very small proportion of ingested betaine was excreted via urine. In conclusion, a single dose of orally administered betaine had an acute and dose-dependent effect on serum betaine concentration and resulted in lowered plasma tHcy concentrations within 2 h in healthy subjects.

J Nutr. 2006 Jan;136(1):34-8

Increased plasma protein homocysteinylation in hemodialysis patients.

Hyperhomocysteinemia, an independent cardiovascular risk factor, is present in the majority of hemodialysis patients. Among the postulated mechanisms of toxicity, protein homocysteinylation is potentially able to cause significant alterations in protein function. Protein homocysteinylation occurs through various mechanisms, among which is the post-translational acylation of free amino groups (protein-N-homocysteinylation, mediated by homocysteine (Hcy) thiolactone). Another type of protein homocysteinylation occurs through the formation of a covalent -S-S- bond, found primarily with cysteine residues (protein-S-homocysteinylation). Scant data are available in the literature regarding the extent to which alterations in protein homocysteinylation are present in uremic patients on hemodialysis, and the effects of folate treatment are not known. Protein homocysteinylation was measured in a group of hemodialysis patients (n=28) compared to controls (n=14), with a new method combining protein reduction, gel filtration and Hcy derivatization. Chemical hydrolysis was performed, followed by high-pressure liquid chromatography separation. The effects of folate treatment on protein homocysteinylation, as well as in vitro binding characteristics were evaluated. Plasma Hcy, protein-N-homocysteinylation and protein-S-homocysteinylation were significantly higher in patients vs controls. Plasma Hcy and protein-S-homocysteinylation were significantly correlated. After 2 months of oral folate treatment, protein-N-homocysteinylation was normalized, and protein-S-homocysteinylation was significantly reduced. Studies on albumin-binding capacity after in vitro homocysteinylation show that homocysteinylated albumin is significantly altered at the diazepam-binding site. In conclusion, increased protein homocysteinylation is present in hemodialysis patients, with possible consequences in terms of protein function. This alteration can be partially reversed after folate treatment.

Kidney Int. 2006 Mar;69(5):869-76

Plasma reduced homocysteine and other aminothiol concentrations in patients with CKD.

BACKGROUND: Hyperhomo-cysteinemia, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, is present in the majority of patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Several studies indicated that the moiety of homocysteine (Hcy) with an unbound -SH group (reduced Hcy [rHcy]) is the atherogenic molecule. This study is designed to examine the relation between different forms of Hcy and other aminothiols in hemodialysis (HD) patients, peritoneal dialysis (PD) patients, and nondialyzed patients with CKD. METHODS: rHcy, free Hcy (fHcy), and total Hcy (tHcy), as well as different forms of cysteine, cysteinyl-glycine, and glutathione, were studied by using a high-performance liquid chromatography technique in 19 HD patients, 12 PD patients, 47 patients with CKD, and 15 control subjects. RESULTS: In PD patients, tHcy levels were 2.8 times greater compared with controls, and in HD patients and those with CKD, 2.1 and 1.9 times greater, respectively. Mean rHcy/tHcy ratios were significantly greater in both HD (P < 0.05) and PD patients (P < 0.01), but did not differ in patients with CKD compared with controls. The decrease in rHcy levels during 1 HD treatment was smaller than that in tHcy and fHcy levels, and rHcy/tHcy ratio increased (before HD, 1.25% +/- 0.44%; after HD, 1.44% +/- 0.66%; P < 0.05). CONCLUSION: Levels of rHcy and other aminothiols are markedly increased in patients with impaired renal function. In dialysis patients, rHcy/tHcy ratio is markedly elevated and shows greater variability than in patients with CKD and controls. We conclude that because rHcy is believed to induce endothelial dysfunction and may be part of the accelerated atherogenic process in patients with CKD, plasma rHcy level could be a more relevant marker of cardiovascular disease risk than tHcy level.

Am J Kidney Dis. 2006 Jan;47(1):60-71

Hyperhomocysteinemia and response of methionine cycle intermediates to vitamin treatment in renal patients.

The role of hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy) as a risk marker for cardiovascular diseases in renal patients is a matter of controversy. The remethylation of homocysteine (Hcy) to methionine in the kidneys is of great importance for Hcy clearance. Hcy remethylation is markedly decreased in patients on hemodialysis, but transsulfuration remains mostly unaffected. Markedly increased concentrations of methylmalonic acid (MMA), as a metabolic marker of vitamin B12 deficiency, have been found in approximately 70% of renal patients. This is in contrast to normal concentrations of vitamin B12 usually reported in such patients. We demonstrated in cell culture experiments that the uptake of vitamin B12 by mononuclear cells from renal patients was lower than that taken up by cells from controls. The lowering of MMA and Hcy concentrations in renal patients after B12 administration may indicate the presence of intracellular pre-treatment deficiency. We administered folic acid (5 mg) plus vitamin B6 (50 mg) and B12 (0.7 mg) three times per week intravenously to hyperhomocysteinemic dialysis patients. Hcy decreased after 4 weeks by 51%. Hcy was normalized in almost all patients, while serum concentrations of MMA and cystathionine were reduced by 28% and 26%, respectively. Cystathionine, an indicator for the transsulfuration pathway, showed a drastic increase in renal disease and was only slightly lowered by B-vitamin treatment. The increased cystathionine/cysteine ratio in renal patients indicates possible impairment of the catabolism of cystathionine by cystathionase. Moreover, renal failure is associated with severe abnormalities in plasma concentrations of S-adenosyl Hcy (SAH) and S-adenosyl methionine (SAM), as well as the SAM/SAH ratio. This ratio is an indicator of the availability of methyl groups from SAM. Therapeutic doses of B-vitamins in dialysis patients led to a limited improvement in the biomarkers of methylation and probably did not have a significant effect on transmethylation potential in the cells. Furthermore, elevated serum levels of asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) in renal patients, which are associated with a poor outcome for such patients, could be lowered, but this effect was confined to patients who had no anemia. Future studies may consider extending the duration of vitamin treatment, as well as agents that may enhance the hydrolysis of SAH and cystathionine.

Clin Chem Lab Med. 2005;43(10):1039-47

Causes of hyperhomocysteinemia in patients with chronic kidney diseases.

Plasma homocysteine (Hcy) levels are increased significantly in patients with moderate renal failure and increase markedly in patients with end-stage renal disease. An increase in plasma Hcy level theoretically could be caused by an increased production rate (ie, transmethylation), a decreased rate of removal by transsulfuration or remethylation, or a decrease in the excretion of Hcy. Current evidence indicates that the major mechanism for hyperhomocysteinemia in renal failure is a decrease in Hcy removal from the body. However, it is debated whether this effect is the result of a decrease in the renal metabolic clearance or a result of extrarenal metabolic changes. The human kidney plays a major role in the removal of several aminothiols or Hcy-related compounds from the circulation (eg, cysteine-glycine, glutathione, AdoMet, and AdoHcy). However, the glomerular filtration of Hcy seems to be restricted because of protein binding. Besides glomerular filtration, the normal kidney can remove Hcy by plasma flow and peritubular uptake. Although in the low normal range in absolute terms, the flow through the transsulfuration pathway is reduced if related to Hcy levels in uremia; in addition, the remethylation pathway also is impaired. Besides the potential effect of the reduced renal mass on Hcy removal, available evidence suggests the occurrence of a generalized down-regulation of the methionine cycle and catabolism in uremia. AdoHcy, sulfate, and dimethylglycine currently are being investigated as retained solutes that can inhibit 1 or more pathways of Hcy metabolism. In addition, the high Hcy levels decrease in malnourished end-stage renal disease patients and change according to nutrient intake and several other nutritional parameters, indicating that circulating Hcy levels become an expression of nutritional status.

Semin Nephrol. 2006 Jan;26(1):3-7

Homocysteine and its determinants in nondialyzed chronic kidney disease patients.

This cross-sectional study aimed to investigate the prevalence of hyperhomocysteinemia, the determinants of plasma total homocysteine concentrations, and the relationship of total homocysteine with nutritional parameters in a sample of patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and not yet on dialysis. The study was done with outpatients from the Nephrology Division of the Federal University of Sao Paulo and Oswaldo Ramos Foundation. Sixty-six patients with CKD (70% male; age 58.6+/-15.6 years [mean+/-standard deviation]) with moderate to severe renal impairment (creatinine clearance=29.8+/-14.3 mL/min [0.5+/-0.24 mL/sec]), clinically stable, and older than 18 years were included. A group of 20 healthy subjects from the clinic staff was also studied for reference values for plasma homocysteine, folate, and vitamin B-12 concentration. Fasting blood samples were collected to determine plasma total homocysteine, folate, vitamin B-12, and creatinine. To calculate creatinine clearance, a 24-hour urine collection sample was obtained. The assessment of nutritional status included anthropometric parameters. Pearson correlation, Mann-Whitney test, and multiple linear regression analysis were used for statistical analyses. The main results showed that the concentration of total homocysteine in the patients was significantly increased compared with the healthy subjects (3.4+/-1.7 vs 1.41+/-0.42 mg/L [25.4+/-12.2 vs 10.4+/-3.1 micromol/L]; P<0.001). Plasma folate and plasma vitamin B-12 were in the normal range and did not differ between patients and healthy individuals. A high prevalence of hyperhomocysteinemia (total homocysteine >1.89 mg/L [14 micromol/L]) was found in the patients (89%). Plasma total homocysteine did not correlate with any of the nutritional parameters studied and did not differ between patients in terms of whether they were using or not using folic acid supplementation (3.07+/-1.09 vs 3.55+/-1.78 mg/L [22.7+/-8.1 vs 26.3+/-13.2 micromol/L]; P=0.47), although plasma folate was significantly higher in the supplemented group (12.6+/-3.0 vs 8.0+/-3.6 ng/mL [28.5+/-6.8 nmol/L vs 18.1+/-8.2 nmol/L]; P<0.001). According to the multiple regression analysis, the determinants of total homocysteine were only plasma folate, plasma vitamin B-12, and creatinine clearance (r2=0.20). In conclusion, a high prevalence of hyperhomocysteinemia was found in our sample of nondialyzed patients with CKD. The determinants of total homocysteine levels were plasma folate, plasma vitamin B-12, and creatinine clearance. No association between nutritional parameters and total homocysteine was observed.

J Am Diet Assoc. 2006 Feb;106(2):267-70

Homocysteine, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase and risk of schizophrenia: a meta-analysis.

Elevated plasma homocysteine concentration has been suggested as a risk factor for schizophrenia, but the results of epidemiological studies have been inconsistent. The most extensively studied genetic variant in the homocysteine metabolism is the 677C>T polymorphism in the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene, resulting in reduced enzyme activity and, subsequently, in elevated homocysteine. A meta-analysis of eight retrospective studies (812 cases and 2,113 control subjects) was carried out to examine the association between homocysteine and schizophrenia. In addition, a meta-analysis of 10 studies (2,265 cases and 2,721 control subjects) on the homozygous (TT) genotype of the MTHFR 677C>T polymorphism was carried out to assess if this association is causal. A 5 micromol/l higher homocysteine level was associated with a 70% (95% confidence interval, CI: 27-129) higher risk of schizophrenia. The TT genotype was associated with a 36% (95% CI: 7-72) higher risk of schizophrenia compared to the CC genotype. The performed meta-analyses showed no evidence of publication bias or excessive influence attributable to any given study. In conclusion, our study provides evidence for an association of homocysteine with schizophrenia. The elevated risk of schizophrenia associated with the homozygous genotype of the MTHFR 677C>T polymorphism provides support for causality between a disturbed homocysteine metabolism and risk of schizophrenia.

Mol Psychiatry. 2006 Feb;11(2):143-9

Homocysteine-Reducing Strategies Improve Symptoms in Chronic Schizophrenic Patients with Hyperhomocysteinemia.

BACKGROUND: An elevated homocysteine level is reported to be a risk factor for several diseases, including Alzheimer’s and cerebrovascular disease. Recently, several studies have reported that homocysteine levels are elevated in many schizophrenic patients. Homocysteine levels can be lowered by oral folic acid, B-12, and pyridoxine. METHODS: Forty-two schizophrenic patients with plasma homocysteine levels >15 mumol/L were treated with these vitamins for 3 months and placebo for 3 months in a study with a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design. RESULTS: Homocysteine levels declined with vitamin therapy compared with placebo in all patients except for one noncompliant subject. Clinical symptoms of schizophrenia as measured by the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale declined significantly with active treatment compared with placebo. Neuropsychological test results overall, and Wisconsin Card Sort (Categories Completed) test results in particular, were significantly better after vitamin treatment than after placebo. CONCLUSIONS: A subgroup of schizophrenic patients with hyperhomocysteinemia might benefit from the simple addition of B vitamins.

Biol Psychiatry. 2006 Aug 1;60(3):265-9.

Plasma total homocysteine level and bone mineral density: the Hordaland Homocysteine Study.

BACKGROUND: Plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) has been associated with hip fracture but not directly with bone mineral density (BMD). We examined the association of hip BMD with levels of plasma tHcy, folate, and vitamin B12 and the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) 677C-->T and 1298A-->C polymorphisms. METHODS: Bone mineral density was measured between 1997 and 2000 in 2,268 men and 3,070 women, aged 47 to 50 and 71 to 75 years, from the Hordaland Homocysteine Study cohort. Low BMD was defined as BMD in the lowest quintile for each sex and age group. Linear, logistic, and generalized additive regression models were used. RESULTS: Plasma levels of tHcy were inversely related to BMD among middle-aged and elderly women (P<.001) but not among men. The multiple adjusted odds ratio for low BMD among subjects with high (>or=15 micromol/L [>or=2.02 mg/L]) compared with low (<9 micromol/L [<1.22 mg/L]) tHcy level was 1.96 (95% confidence interval, 1.40-2.75) for women and was not significant for men. Additional adjustments for plasma folate level or intake of calcium and vitamin D did not substantially alter the results. Plasma folate level was associated with BMD in women only. We observed no association between BMD and vitamin B12 level or the MTHFR polymorphisms. CONCLUSIONS: Elevated tHcy and low folate levels were associated with reduced BMD in women but not in men. These findings suggest that tHcy may be a potential modifiable risk factor for osteoporosis in women.

Arch Intern Med. 2006 Jan 9;166(1):88-94

Evaluation of plasma homocysteine and risk of age-related macular degeneration.

PURPOSE: To assess the relationship between plasma levels of homocysteine and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). DESIGN: Cross-sectional, case-control study. METHODS: Fasting plasma homocysteine levels were measured at two centers in 934 individuals who were participating in an ancillary study of the Age-Related Eye Disease Study. There were 547 cases and 387 control subjects, who were determined by fundus photography. Conditional logistic regression analyses were conducted to assess the association of homocysteine with AMD. RESULTS: Median values of homocysteine were higher among advanced AMD cases (9.51 mmol/l) compared with persons with no AMD (8.81 mmol/l; P = .01). Values of >12 mmol/l vs < or =12 mmol/l were also associated with an increased risk of AMD (P = .023), when controlled for other covariates. CONCLUSION: Results are consistent with a possible small, independent association between higher homocysteine levels and AMD. Homocysteine may be a modifiable risk factor for AMD.

Am J Ophthalmol. 2006 Jan;141(1):201-3

Association of plasma homocysteine with coronary artery calcification in different categories of coronary heart disease risk.

OBJECTIVE: To Investigate the association of plasma homocystelne with coronary artery calcification (CAC) in strata based on 10-year risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in a cohort enriched in persons with hypertension. PARTICIPANTS AND METHODS: Fasting plasma homocystelne was measured by liquid chromatography electrospray tandem mass spectrometry. Coronary artery calcification was measured noninvasively by electron beam computed tomography and CAC score calculated using the method of Agatston et al. The 10-year CHD risk was calculated based on the Framingham risk score. The association of homocysteine with log-transformed CAC score was assessed in the pooled sample and within each risk stratum by linear regression after adjustment for conventional risk factors. RESULTS: In the 1,071 participants studied, homocysteine was associated with CAC quantity (P = .01) after adjustment for CHD risk factors (age, male sex, total and high-density lipoproteln cholesterol, diabetes, history of smoking, body mass Index, and systolic blood pressure), serum creatinine, and statin and hypertension medication use. When the association was assessed in strata based on 10-year CHD risk, homocysteine was significantly (P = .003) associated with CAC quantity in participants at Intermediate 10-year risk of CHD (6%-20%) independent of other risk factors but not in those at lower risk or higher risk. CONCLUSION: Plasma homocysteine is associated with quantity of CAC Independent of CHD risk factors. When studied in categories of 10-year CHD risk, the association was significant in participants at intermediate risk but not in those at low or high risk. Plasma homocysteine levels may have clinical utility as a marker of CHD risk in such individuals.

Mayo Clin Proc. 2006 Feb;81(2):177-82