Oster rediscovered--mega-dose folate for symptomatic atherosclerosis

Med Hypotheses. 2007;69(2):325-32. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2004.11.049. Epub 2007 Jan 16.


Thirty years ago, Kurt Oster promulgated the avant-garde theory that bovine xanthine oxidase, absorbed intact from homogenized milk, promoted atherogenesis by oxidatively damaging membrane plasmalogens. Under the mistaken impression that folic acid is a xanthine oxidase inhibitor, he administered high-dose folate (80 mg daily) to hundreds of patients afflicted with symptomatic atherosclerosis, and reported marked improvements in angina, intermittent claudication, and wound healing; he also suspected that this regimen was decreasing heart attack risk. The xanthine oxidase theory has since fallen by the wayside, but there is now evidence that folic acid can lessen endothelial oxidative stress by improving the function of "uncoupled" nitric oxide synthase deficient in tetrahydrobiopterin. In light of these new findings, a properly controlled assessment of Oster's mega-dose folate therapy is warranted.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Atherosclerosis / history*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Folic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Folic Acid / history*
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans


  • Folic Acid

Personal name as subject

  • Kurt Oster