Plasma homocyst(e)ine concentrations and the risk of subtypes of cerebral infarction. The Hisayama study

Cerebrovasc Dis. 2002;13(1):9-15. doi: 10.1159/000047739.


Moderately elevated plasma total homocyst(e)ine (tHcy) levels have been linked with cardiovascular disease. However, the findings of previous studies regarding the relationship between tHcy levels and subtypes of cerebral infarction (CI) have been conflicting. The aim of the present study was to examine this issue in a community-based case-control study performed in Hisayama Town in Japan. Fasting tHcy levels were compared among 75 CI cases, of which 43 were lacunar (LI), 24 atherothrombotic (ATI) and 8 cardioembolic infarctions (CEI), and 248 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. The mean tHcy concentrations were higher in CI than in controls (13.0 vs. 11.8 micromol/l; p = 0.018). LI and CEI also had significantly higher tHcy levels than did the corresponding controls (12.3 vs. 11.3 micromol/l for LI; p = 0.037 and 16.3 vs. 12.7 micromol/l for CEI; p = 0.036). The same tendency was also observed for ATI, but the difference was only marginally significant probably due to the small number of the cases (13.4 vs. 11.9 micromol/l; p = 0.087). After adjustment for age, sex, hypertension, serum creatinine, total protein, folate and vitamin B(12) levels, the risk of LI was not significant in the second tertile of the tHcy distribution, but significantly increased in the third compared with the first tertile (adjusted odds ratio, AOR, 3.4; 95% confidence limits, CL, 1.3-8.9; p = 0.015), while the risk of ATI was significant even in the second tertile (AOR, 5.0; 95% CL, 1.0-23.7; p = 0.042) and higher in the third tertile (AOR, 7.5; 95% CL, 1.5-38.3; p = 0.015). However, the odds ratios for CEI could not be estimated, as there was no case of CEI in the first tertile. These findings suggest that elevated tHcy is an independent risk factor for all subtypes of CI, but that its impact is higher in ATI and probably in CEI than in LI.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebral Infarction / blood*
  • Cerebral Infarction / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Homocysteine / blood*
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Embolism and Thrombosis / blood
  • Intracranial Embolism and Thrombosis / epidemiology
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors


  • Homocysteine