Homocysteine and carotid atherosclerosis in chronic renal failure--the confounding effect of renal function

Atherosclerosis. 2004 Aug;175(2):315-23. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2004.04.002.


Since total homocysteine (tHcy) level is markedly elevated in patients with chronic renal failure (CRF), it has been presented as a potential factor contributing to the high risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in CRF. Our aim was to examine the significance of elevated tHcy level and other cardiovascular risk factors for carotid atherosclerosis in patients with CRF. In this cross-sectional study, 135 study patients with CRF (52 +/- 11 years) included 58 patients with moderate to severe predialysis CRF, 36 dialysis patients and 41 renal transplant recipients. In addition, 58 control subjects were examined. The association of tHcy level and classic risk factors for atherosclerosis with common carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) or carotid artery plaque score was examined. We found no association between tHcy and carotid IMT or a high carotid plaque score in the CRF patient groups. No consistent association was found between elevated tHcy and coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease or peripheral arterial disease. Renal function, described as creatinine clearance, was the strongest determinant for tHcy level. Significant predictors of carotid atherosclerosis were age, duration of hypertension and elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level. In conclusion, the present study shows no apparent association between tHcy level and atheromatous carotid findings in patients with CRF. However, because of the changing renal function in the course of renal disease, the strong confounding effect of renal function may not be adequately controlled for the analysis of the significance of elevated tHcy level for CVD in patients with CRF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arteriosclerosis / etiology*
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / etiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Homocysteine / blood*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / blood*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy
  • Kidney Transplantation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Risk Factors


  • Homocysteine