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Atherosclerosis. 2003 Aug;169(2):323-30.

Plasma homocysteine and S-adenosylmethionine in erythrocytes as determinants of carotid intima-media thickness: different effects in diabetic and non-diabetic individuals. The Hoorn Study.

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Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Erratum in

  • Atherosclerosis. 2004 Mar;173(1):153.



Hyperhomocysteinemia is a risk factor for atherothrombosis. Through unknown mechanisms, individuals with type 2 diabetes appear particularly susceptible. We determined whether components of homocysteine metabolism are associated with intima-media thickness in individuals with and without type 2 diabetes.


In a cross-sectional design, we studied 231 Caucasian individuals, 60.6% having type 2 diabetes. We measured fasting homocysteine, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 in plasma, and folate, S-adenosylmethionine and S-adenosylhomocysteine in plasma and erythrocytes. A homocysteine concentration >12 micromol/l was associated with a greater intima-media thickness of +0.07 mm (95% CI, +0.01 to +0.13; P=0.03) among diabetic individuals and of -0.004 mm (95%CI, -0.08 to +0.07; P=0.92) among non-diabetic individuals. An erythrocyte S-adenosylmethionine concentration above >4000 nmol/l was associated with a smaller intima-media thickness of -0.04 mm (95%CI, -0.10 to +0.02; P=0.17) for diabetic individuals versus -0.12 mm (95%CI, -0.20 to -0.36; P=0.005) for non-diabetic individuals.


With regard to carotid intima-media thickness, individuals with diabetes appear more susceptible to the detrimental effects of homocysteine than non-diabetic individuals. In addition, diabetic individuals may lack the protective effect on the vascular wall conferred by high concentrations of S-adenosylmethionine. These findings may help explain why hyperhomocysteinemia is an especially strong risk factor for atherothrombosis among individuals with type 2 diabetes.

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