Adverse effects of hyperhomocysteinemia and their management by folic acid.

Institute of Biochemistry of Macromolecules, Second University of Naples, Italy.
Mineral and Electrolyte Metabolism 02/1997; 23(3-6):174-8.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A moderate increase in plasma homocysteine is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Plasma homocysteine is frequently elevated in chronic renal failure and in uremic patients, and the major causes of death in these patients are cardiovascular accidents. Homocysteine metabolism and mechanisms of toxicity are reviewed. Homocysteine elevation in blood leads to the intracellular increase of its precursor, adenosylhomocysteine, a powerful inhibitor of adenosylmethionine-dependent transmethylations. In vitro evidence shows that this increase is reversible upon homocysteine removal. Membrane protein methylation levels are consistently reduced in erythrocytes of both chronic renal failure and hemodialysis patients. This widespread enzymatic methylation is a key step for the repair of molecular damage resulting from the spontaneous deamidation and isomerization reactions of susceptible residues in proteins. In agreement with these findings is the observation that the concentration of a stable side product, D-Asx, of the repair process is significantly lower in erythrocyte membrane proteins from hemodialysis patients than from controls, showing that the repair of damaged membrane proteins is actually defective. It has been shown that treatment with folates dramatically lowers plasma homocysteine, presumably by improving remethylation to methionine. This indicates that folates and/ or their active derivative, i.e., methyltetrahydrofolate, could be effective in ameliorating transmethylations as well.

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    ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTION. Hyperhomocysteinemia is common in patients with chronic kidney disease. There is a direct relationship between cardiovascular mortality and increase of blood homocysteine. Folic acid is used as common treatment in such patients. Folinic acid, a shortened form of folic acid, is not affected by inhibitors of dihydrofolate reductase enzyme such as methoterxate. This study was performed to evaluate the effect of oral folinic acid on the blood homocysteine level of hemodialysis patients, in comparison with folic acid. MATERIALS AND METHODS. This clinical trial was performed on 60 hemodialysis patients. The participants were divided into 2 groups to receive either 15 mg of oral folic acid or 15 mg of oral folinic acid, daily. Blood homocysteine levels were measured before dialysis and after the study period. RESULTS. Folic acid and folinic acid decreased the blood homocysteine levels by 33.0% and 28.7%, respectively (P < .001). However, only 3 patients (6.5%) enjoyed a normalized homocysteine level. CONCLUSIONS. Our study showed that both folic and folinic acid decreased the blood homocysteine level and no meaningful difference was observed between them; therefore, we suggest they can be used interchangeably.
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    ABSTRACT: Hyperhomocysteinaemia has been regarded as a new modifiable risk factor for atherosclerosis and vascular disease. Homocysteine is a branch-point intermediate of methionine metabolism, which can be further metabolised via two alternative pathways: degraded irreversibly through the transsulphuration pathway or remethylated to methionine by the remethylation pathway. Both pathways are B-vitamin-dependent. Plasma homocysteine concentrations are determined by nongenetic and genetic factors. The metabolism of homocysteine, the role of B vitamins and the contribution of nongenetic and genetic determinants of homocysteine concentrations are reviewed. The mechanisms whereby homocysteine causes endothelial damage and vascular disease are not fully understood. Recently, a link has been postulated between homocysteine, or its intermediates, and an alterated DNA methylation pattern. The involvement of epigenetic mechanisms in the context of homocysteine and atherosclerosis, due to inhibition of transmethylation reactions, is briefly overviewed.
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    ABSTRACT: Hemodialysis (HD) patients have a greatly increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. For this reason, attempts are often made to normalize hyperhomocysteinemia. This randomized prospective study sought to determine which risk factors are predictors of mortality and whether high doses of folates or 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) could improve hyperhomocysteinemia and survival in HD patients. 341 patients were divided into two groups: group A was treated with 50 mg i.v. 5-MTHF, and group B was treated with 5 mg/day oral folic acid. Both groups received i.v. vitamin B(6) and B(12). By dividing patients into C-reactive protein (CRP) quartiles, group A had the highest survival for CRP <12 mg/l, whereas no survival difference was found for group B. CRP was the only predictive risk factor for death (RR 1.17, range 1.04-1.30, p = 0.02). Dialysis age, hyperhomocysteinemia, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase polymorphism, albumin, lipoprotein (a) and folate did not influence mortality risk. Survival in group A was higher than that in group B, namely 36.2 +/- 20.9 vs. 26.1 +/- 22.2 months (p = 0.003). Our results suggest that CRP, but not hyperhomocysteinemia, is the main risk factor for mortality in HD patients receiving vitamin supplements. Intravenous 5-MTHF seems to improve survival in HD patients independent from homocysteine lowering.
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