Homocysteine as a predictive factor for hip fracture in older persons

N Engl J Med. 2004 May 13;350(20):2042-9. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa032739.


Background: The increased prevalence of osteoporosis among people with homocystinuria suggests that a high serum homocysteine concentration may weaken bone by interfering with collagen cross-linking, thereby increasing the risk of osteoporotic fracture. We examined the association between the total homocysteine concentration and the risk of hip fracture in men and women enrolled in the Framingham Study.

Methods: We studied 825 men and 1174 women, ranging in age from 59 to 91 years, from whom blood samples had been obtained between 1979 and 1982 to measure plasma total homocysteine. The participants in our study were followed from the time that the sample was obtained through June 1998 for incident hip fracture. Sex-specific, age-adjusted incidence rates of hip fracture were calculated for quartiles of total homocysteine concentrations. Cox proportional-hazards regression was used to calculate hazard ratios for quartiles of homocysteine values.

Results: The mean (+/-SD) plasma total homocysteine concentration was 13.4+/-9.1 micromol per liter in men and 12.1+/-5.3 micromol per liter in women. The median duration of follow-up was 12.3 years for men and 15.0 years for women. There were 41 hip fractures among men and 146 among women. The age-adjusted incidence rates per 1000 person-years for hip fracture, from the lowest to the highest quartile for total homocysteine, were 1.96 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.52 to 3.41), 3.24 (0.97 to 5.52), 4.43 (1.80 to 7.07), and 8.14 (4.20 to 12.08) for men and 9.42 (5.72 to 13.12), 7.01 (4.29 to 9.72), 9.58 (6.42 to 12.74), and 16.57 (11.84 to 21.30) for women. Men and women in the highest quartile had a greater risk of hip fracture than those in the lowest quartile--the risk was almost four times as high for men and 1.9 times as high for women.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that the homocysteine concentration, which is easily modifiable by means of dietary intervention, is an important risk factor for hip fracture in older persons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hip Fractures / epidemiology
  • Hip Fractures / etiology*
  • Homocysteine / blood*
  • Humans
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia / complications*
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / blood*
  • Osteoporosis / complications
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors


  • Homocysteine