Folic acid--an innocuous means to reduce plasma homocysteine.


Brattstrom LE, Israelsson B, Jeppsson JO




Scand J Clin Lab Invest


With an improved highly reproducible method, we measured total plasma homocysteine (free plus protein-bound) and related amino acids in the fasting state in healthy subjects, before and after treatment with co- factors for homocysteine metabolism: 1 mg cyanocobalamin (n = 14), 5 mg folic acid (n = 13) or 40 mg pyridoxine hydrochloride (n = 15) daily for 14 days. Cyanocobalamin and pyridoxine hydrochloride had no effects on plasma levels of amino acids, but folic acid had a considerable homocysteine-lowering effect. Total plasma homocysteine was reduced in all but two subjects, from 19.9 +/- 4.4 (mean +/- SEM) to 9.5 +/- 1.0 mumol/l (-52%, p less than 0.01). We propose that folic acid in excess acts by enhancing the remethylation of homocysteine to methionine. The finding confirms a previous report by us. Since homocysteine is considered to be an atherogenic amino acid and recent reports suggest that mild to moderate homocysteinaemia is also associated with premature vascular disease, treatment with folic acid might be of use as prophylaxis.