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Am J Clin Nutr. 1996 Oct;64(4):587-93.

Plasma total homocysteine in healthy subjects: sex-specific relation with biological traits.

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Hyperlipidemia and Atherosclerosis Research Group, Hôtel-Dieu Hospital, Montreal, Canada.


Fasting plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) concentration was measured in 380 men and 204 women selected for health on the basis of clinical history, physical examination, and normal results of a biochemical profile. We sought to define tHcy reference values in healthy individuals and to determine relations between tHcy and plasma folic acid, vitamin B-12, and pyridoxal phosphate (vitamin B-6) concentrations. Men had significantly higher plasma tHcy than women (9.7 +/- 4.9 compared with 7.6 +/- 4.1 mumol/L, x +/- SD) and lower folate concentrations (8.6 +/- 5.2 compared with 9.8 +/- 6.6 nmol/L, P < 0.05). Significant correlations were found between tHcy and uric acid, creatinine, albumin, folate, and vitamin B-12 concentrations. There was no correlation with age, body mass index, blood pressure, glucose, and total and lipoprotein lipids. When divided in quartiles of vitamin concentrations, subjects with the lowest vitamin B-12 and folate values had significantly higher tHcy concentrations than those in the other three quartiles. Interestingly, after exclusion of subjects in the lowest quartiles of folate and vitamin B-12 concentration, correlations between tHcy and vitamin concentrations were no longer observed, except for vitamin B-12 in men. Stepwise-multiple-regression analyses showed that the sex-specific influence of biological variables on tHcy concentrations was twice as important in healthy women than in healthy men. This study emphasizes the significance of sex-associated differences in the biology of homocysteine and underlines the importance of considering these in the determination of threshold values.

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