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J Neurol. 2012 Oct;259(10):2105-10. doi: 10.1007/s00415-012-6464-z. Epub 2012 Mar 16.

Elevated plasma homocysteine levels in patients with multiple sclerosis are associated with male gender.

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Department of Neurosciences and Organs of Senses, University of Bari, Ospedale Policlinico, P.zza G. Cesare 11, 70124, Bari, Italy.


Elevated homocysteine (Hcy) levels exert several neurotoxic actions and vascular dysfunctions that may be involved in pathogenesis and progression of multiple sclerosis (MS). The effective role of Hcy in MS however remains to be determined. The aim of this work was to compare plasma Hcy levels in MS patients and neurological disease controls (NDC) and to evaluate their relationships with clinical and demographic variables. In this cross-sectional study, we examined plasma Hcy levels in 217 patients with MS [53 clinically isolated syndromes (CIS) suggestive of MS, 134 relapsing remitting (RR), 23 secondary progressive (SP) and seven primary progressive (PP) MS], recruited among patients attending a tertiary clinical center in southern Italy and in 219 age/sex-matched controls. Median Hcy levels were slightly higher in MS patients compared to NDC (9.1 μmol/l; range, 3.4-35.9 vs. 8.6, range 3.5-27.4; p = 0.02). Median Hcy concentrations were increased in males more than in females in the MS population (10.4 vs. 8.4; p < 0.0001), whereas no differences across genders were found in NDC (9.1 vs. 8.5). Hcy levels were higher in male MS patients compared to the male NDC patients (p = 0.001). Patients with CIS had lower Hcy (7.5 μmol/l; p = 0.004) compared to patients with RR (9.5 μmol/l), SP (10.1 μmol/l) and PP (9.9 μmol/l). Median Hcy concentration was higher in patients with disease duration longer than 22 months (9.7 vs. 8.6 μmol/l; p = 0.02). Plasma Hcy levels are increased in patients with definite MS. Higher Hcy levels are associated with male sex, suggesting a role of Hcy in neurodegenerative processes of MS, which are prominent in male patients.

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