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LE Magazine July 2004
Vitamin B12

Homocyst(e)ine and cardiovascular disease: a critical review of the epidemiologic evidence.
PURPOSE: To review epidemiologic studies on the association between homocyst(e)ine level and risk for cardiovascular disease and the potential benefits of homocysteine-decreasing therapies. DATA SOURCES: Computerized and manual searches of the literature on total homocysteine levels and cardiovascular disease. STUDY SELECTION: Prospective studies and major retrospective epidemiologic studies evaluating the association between homocyst(e)ine levels and cardiovascular disease and the association between blood levels or dietary intake of folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 and cardiovascular disease. DATA EXTRACTION: Relevant data on patient population, plasma homocyst(e)ine levels, duration of follow-up, and main results were extracted from studies that met the inclusion criteria. DATA SYNTHESIS: The designs and results of studies included in this review are summarized. A formal meta-analysis was not performed because the studies were heterogeneous in method and design. CONCLUSIONS: Results of epidemiologic studies suggest that moderately elevated plasma or serum homocyst(e)ine levels are prevalent in the general population and are associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, independent of classic cardiovascular risk factors. Simple, inexpensive, nontoxic therapy with folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 reduces plasma homocyst(e)ine levels. Although the association between homocyst(e)ine levels and cardiovascular disease is generally strong and biologically plausible, the data from the prospective studies are less consistent. In addition, epidemiologic observations of an association between hyperhomocyst(e)inemia and cardiovascular risk do not prove the existence of a causal relation. Therefore, the effectiveness of folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 in reducing cardiovascular morbidity and mortality requires rigorous testing in randomized clinical trials. Several such trials are under way; their results may greatly affect cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, given the simplicity and low cost of vitamin therapy.

Ann Intern Med . 1999 Sep 7;131(5):363-75

Methionine synthase polymorphism is a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients show increased plasma levels of homocysteine, whose conversion to methionine is catalyzed by methionine synthase (MS). Although altered MS activity may result from the MS A2756G polymorphism, the latter's possible associ-ation with AD remains unexplored. To assess whether the MS A2756G polymorphism holds any influence on AD risk, we have analyzed 172 AD patients and 166 controls. We have also investigated whether the MS-A or MS-G allele interacts with the APOE4 allele. Our results indicate that association with the MS-AA genotype is an APOE4 allele-independent risk factor for AD. These findings provide novel evidence implicating genetic enzymatic alterations of homocysteine metabolic pathways in the pathogenesis of AD.

Neurorepor t. 2003 Jul 18;14(10):1391-4

Effect of homocysteine-lowering therapy with folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6 on clinical outcome after percutaneous coronary intervention: the Swiss Heart study: a randomized controlled trial.
CONTEXT: Plasma homocysteine level has been recognized as an important cardiovascular risk factor that predicts adverse cardiac events in patients with established coronary atherosclerosis and influences restenosis rate after percutaneous coronary intervention. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of homocysteine-lowering therapy on clinical outcome after percutaneous coronary intervention. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial involving 553 patients referred to the University Hospital in Bern, Switzerland, from May 1998 to April 1999 and enrolled after successful angioplasty of at least 1 significant coronary stenosis (> or = 50%). INTERVENTION: Participants were randomly assigned to receive a combination of folic acid (1 mg/d), vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin, 400 micro g/d), and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride, 10 mg/d) (n = 272) or placebo (n = 281) for 6 months. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Composite end point of major adverse events defined as death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, and need for repeat revascularization, evaluated at 6 months and 1 year. RESULTS: After a mean (SD) follow-up of 11 (3) months, the composite end point was significantly lower at 1 year in patients treated with homocysteine-lowering therapy (15.4% vs 22.8%; relative risk [RR], 0.68; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.48-0.96; P =.03), primarily due to a reduced rate of target lesion revascularization (9.9% vs 16.0%; RR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.40-0.97; P =.03). A nonsignificant trend was seen toward fewer deaths (1.5% vs 2.8%; RR, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.16-1.70; P =.27) and nonfatal myocardial infarctions (2.6% vs 4.3%; RR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.24-1.51; P =.27) with homocysteine-lowering therapy. These findings remained unchanged after adjustment for potential confounders. CONCLUSION: Homocysteine-lowering therapy with folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6 significantly decreases the incidence of major adverse events after percutaneous coronary intervention.

JAMA. 2002 Aug 28;288(8):973-9