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J Am Coll Cardiol. 2001 Oct;38(4):1106-15.

Mechanisms responsible for endothelial dysfunction induced by fasting hyperhomocystinemia in normotensive subjects and patients with essential hypertension.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.



We sought to evaluate whether fasting hyperhomocystinemia reduces endothelial function by oxidative stress in normotensive subjects and hypertensive patients.


Subjects with hyperhomocystinemia have endothelial dysfunction.


In 23 normotensive subjects and 28 hypertensive patients, classified into normohomocystinemic and hyperhomocystinemic groups according to homocysteine plasma levels (< 8.7 and >14.6 micromol/l, respectively), we studied forearm blood flow changes (strain-gauge plethysmography) induced by intrabrachial administration of acetylcholine (0.15 to 15 microg/100 ml tissue per min) or sodium nitroprusside (1 to 4 microg/100 ml per min), an endothelium-dependent and -independent vasodilator, respectively. Acetylcholine was repeated with N(G)-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA; 100 microg/100 ml per min), vitamin C (8 mg/100 ml per min) and L-NMMA plus vitamin C.


Normotensive hyperhomocystinemic patients showed a blunted response to acetylcholine and a lower inhibiting effect of L-NMMA on acetylcholine, as compared with normohomocystinemic patients. Although vitamin C was ineffective in normohomocystinemic subjects, it increased the response to acetylcholine and restored the inhibiting effect of L-NMMA on acetylcholine in hyperhomocystinemic patients. Hypertensive hyperhomocystinemic patients showed a reduced response to acetylcholine, as compared with normohomocystinemic subjects. In both subgroups, L-NMMA failed to blunt the response to acetylcholine. The potentiating effect of vitamin C on acetylcholine was greater in hyperhomocystinemic patients than in normohomocystinemic subjects, although it restored the inhibitory effect of L-NMMA on acetylcholine-induced vasodilation to the same extent in both groups. Hyperhomocystinemia did not change the response to sodium nitroprusside.


In normotensive subjects and hypertensive patients, hyperhomocystinemia impairs endothelium-dependent vasodilation. It could be related to oxidant activity.

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