Objectives: To examine the independent relationship between plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) and microvascular and macrovascular complications.
Design: We performed a cross-sectional nested case-control study from the EURODIAB Prospective Complications Study.
Setting: A hospital-based multicentre study at 24 centres in 13 European countries.
Subjects: A total of 533 type 1 diabetic patients, diagnosed at <36 years of age. Cases (n=359) were defined as those with one or more complications of diabetes and control subjects (n=174) were all those with no evidence of any complication. Main outcome measures. Retinopathy, albumin excretion rate (AER), glomerular filtration rate (GFR) estimated by Cockcroft-Gault formula, hypertension and cardiovascular disease (CVD) were assessed.
Results: In unadjusted models, tHcy (per 5 micromol L(-1)) was significantly associated with nonproliferative retinopathy (OR=1.45, 95% CI: 1.10-1.91), proliferative retinopathy (OR=1.74, 95% CI: 1.34-2.27), macroalbuminuria (OR=1.90, 95% CI: 1.49-2.42), hypertension (OR=2.23, 95% CI: 1.69-2.93) and CVD (OR=1.59, 95% CI: 1.18-2.14). In multivariate models, tHcy was significantly related to macroalbuminuria (OR=1.66, 95% CI: 1.24-2.24) and hypertension (OR=1.57, 95% CI: 1.19-2.07), independent of age, sex, diabetes duration, GFR, microvascular and macrovascular complications and cardiovascular risk factors. There was a significant relationship between tHcy and decreased GFR, independent of established risk factors. The relationship between tHcy and retinopathy was not independent of albuminuria or GFR. The initial positive relationship with CVD was explained by cardiovascular risk factors.
Conclusion: In this large study of European type 1 diabetic subjects, increased concentrations of tHcy were independently related to macroalbuminuria, renal function and hypertension, which suggests that tHcy might play an important role in the pathogenesis of vascular complications in type 1 diabetes.