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Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Aug;72(2):324-32.

The controversy over homocysteine and cardiovascular risk.

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LOCUS for Homocysteine and Related Vitamins, Armauer Hansens hus, University of Bergen, Norway.


Elevated plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) is a risk factor for occlusive cardiovascular disease (CVD). This concept is based on the observations of premature vascular disease in patients with homocystinuria, the relation between tHcy and both clinical CVD as well as preclinical atherosclerotic disease, the relation between tHcy in children and CVD in their parents or relatives, and reduction in CVD or surrogate endpoints after tHcy-lowering intervention with B vitamins. Plausible mechanisms include the in vivo interference with nitric oxide-dependent reactive vasodilatation. Some observations have raised questions about tHcy as a risk factor. 1) Some prospective studies showed a weak relation or no relation between tHcy and CVD. 2) Several traditional risk factors are associated with tHcy and may confound the relation between tHcy and CVD. 3) tHcy is related to renal function, and hyperhomocysteinemia may reflect early nephrosclerosis. 4) The C677T transition of the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene causes a moderate increase in tHcy but no or only minor increased CVD risk. However, the strength of some of these arguments can be questioned because there is increasing evidence that tHcy is a proximate risk factor provoking the acute event, it strongly interacts with traditional risk factors, and it may predict CVD or death in patients with chronic renal failure. Furthermore, the studies of the C677T polymorphism lack statistical power, and the TT genotype may even modulate CVD risk independently of homocysteine. Thus, only placebo-controlled intervention studies with tHcy-lowering B vitamins and clinical endpoints can provide additional valid arguments for the debate over whether tHcy is a causal CVD risk factor.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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