Correlates of plasma homocysteine, cysteine and cysteinyl-glycine in respondents in the British National Diet and Nutrition Survey of young people aged 4-18 years, and a comparison with the survey of people aged 65 years and over

Br J Nutr. 2002 Jan;87(1):71-9. doi: 10.1079/bjn2001479.


Plasma total homocysteine (tHcy), cysteine and cysteinyl-glycine were measured in a representative sample of 922 young people aged 4-18 years, participating in the National Diet and Nutrition Survey in mainland Britain in 1997. Both tHcy and cysteine increased markedly with age; cysteinyl-glycine less so. Neither tHcy nor cysteine differed between genders; cysteinyl-glycine was higher in males. tHcy concentrations were lowest in the winter; cysteine and cysteinyl-glycine varied only slightly with season. In respondents aged >15 years, tHcy was higher in smokers, but in respondents aged 7-11 years, tHcy was higher in those whose mothers smoked. tHcy was inversely correlated with serum folate, serum vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 status, but neither cysteine nor cysteinyl-glycine shared these relationships. The relationships between tHcy and B-vitamin status indices ran parallel with those of the 65 years and over survey, but at much lower tHcy concentrations for any given B-vitamin concentration. Age-adjusted tHcy was not correlated with anthropometric indices, blood pressure, haematology, plasma creatinine, urea or cholesterol, but was directly correlated with fasting triacylglycerol. We conclude that disease-risk indices, like tHcy and perhaps cysteine, if established during early life, may be modulated by diet and lifestyle, thereby providing an opportunity for public health intervention.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aged
  • Aging / blood*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cysteine / blood
  • Diet Surveys
  • Dipeptides / blood
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / blood
  • Homocysteine / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reference Values
  • Seasons
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / blood
  • United Kingdom
  • Vitamin B 12 / blood
  • Vitamin B 6 / blood


  • Biomarkers
  • Dipeptides
  • Homocysteine
  • cysteinylglycine
  • Vitamin B 6
  • Folic Acid
  • Cysteine
  • Vitamin B 12