Elevated plasma total homocysteine levels in hyperinsulinemic obese subjects

J Nutr Biochem. 2002 Feb;13(2):75-79. doi: 10.1016/s0955-2863(01)00197-8.


Homocysteine has been associated with the oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Oxidative stress caused by triglycerides and free fatty acids is known to cause insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia. On the other hand, insulin resistance may increase homocysteine levels. Since obesity is associated with insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia, we aimed to study the possible association of homocysteine with hyperinsulinemia in obese subjects. 20 obese male subjects (body mass index >29), aged 33--55 (mean 45 years old) were studied. A fasting blood sample was obtained for the study and the subjects undertook an oral glucose tolerance test with samples taken at 1 and 2 h after glucose. Subjects were divided in two groups according to the fasting insulin levels, < 9 &mgr;U/ml or normoinsulinemic (group 1) and >9 &mgr;U/ml or hyperinsulinemic (group 2). Glucose, insulin, homocysteine, folate, B(12,) total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol and triglycerides levels were determined in fasting blood samples. In oral glucose tolerance test, glucose, insulin and homocysteine levels were measured. Hyperinsulinemic obese subjects (group 2) had higher levels of insulin and glucose at 1 h and 2 h postglucose, compared with group 1. Fasting total homocysteine and triglyceride levels were also increased in this group, whereas folate and B(12) levels were similar in both groups. Fasting homocysteine significantly correlated with fasting insulin (r = 0.6, p <0.01). Homocysteine levels slightly but significantly decreased after glucose loading in normoinsulinemic but not in hyperinsulinemic obese subjects. These results show that higher homocysteine levels are observed in the hyperinsulinemic obese subjects and suggest that homocysteine could play a role in the higher risk of cardiovascular disease in obesity.