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Clin Chem Lab Med. 2011 Mar;49(3):479-83. doi: 10.1515/CCLM.2011.062. Epub 2010 Dec 14.

Effect of cigarette smoking on plasma homocysteine concentrations.

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Laboratory of Biochemistry-Toxicology, University Hospital of Monastir, Monastir, Tunisia.



Cigarette smoking has been recognized as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, while the role of homocysteine is still not clear. This study investigated the effects of smoking on plasma homocysteine concentration and determined the correlation between this parameter and biological markers of tobacco use, such as plasma thiocyanate and urine cotinine.


Folate, vitamin B12 and homocysteine were measured in 300 subjects: 138 non-smokers and 162 smokers using immunoassay methods. Cotinine was measured using an enzymatic colorimetric method and thiocyanate by a selective electrode.


In smokers, we found a significant increase in homocysteine and a decrease in folate and vitamin B12 levels compared to non-smokers. Homocysteine was strongly correlated with the duration of use and the number of cigarettes consumed. Folate and vitamin B12 were significantly reduced in subjects smoking for more than 20 years compared to those who smoked less than 5 years. Among smokers, we noted a positive correlation between homocysteine and both plasma thiocyanates and cotininuria, and a negative-correlation between cotininuria and plasma folate.


Cigarette smoking increases homocysteine, which is strongly correlated with cotininuria and plasma thiocyanates. Moreover, smokers had tendency to develop hypofolatemia and hypovitamin B12, particularly when the duration of consumption exceeded 20 years.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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