Background: Recently a link between hyperhomocysteinemia [HH(e)] and diabetic micro- and macrovascular complications has been reported. However, it is far from clear whether HH(e) is an epiphenomenon or a cause of angiopathic complications.
Objective: To try to clarify this question we studied adolescents and young diabetic patients without or with only initial complications.
Subjects: Plasma levels of basal homocysteinemia [H(e)], folate and vitamin B12 were measured in 76 young diabetic patients (age range 13.6-32.2 yr) and 70 normal volunteers matched for sex and age. In 68 diabetic patients and 53 controls we evaluated the levels of homocysteinemia 2 h after a methionine-loading test.
Methods: Total (free + protein bound) plasma H(e) level was measured by HPLC.
Results: Basal or post-load HH(e) occurred in 4.1% of diabetic patients and 12.4% of controls (frequencies not statistically different). In diabetic patients plasma homocysteine values were statistically lower than in controls, but this difference was present only in females. The females showed lower homocysteine values and higher folate levels than males only in the diabetic group. We did not find significant differences in H(e) levels between patients with early complications, late complications or without complications of any type.
Conclusions: Considering very young diabetic patients, the risk of hyperhomocysteinemia does not appear to be greater than in normal controls. Furthermore, our data seem to demonstrate that HH(e) is not a preexisting condition in diabetic patients, even in those predisposed to early complications.