Objectives: A high level of total homocysteine (tHcy) is a risk marker for cardiovascular disease (CVD), and is related to inflammation. We wanted to test the effect of homocysteine-lowering B-vitamin therapy, as used in the Western Norway B-vitamin Intervention Trial (WENBIT), on inflammatory markers associated with atherosclerosis.
Design: Single centre, prospective double-blind clinical interventional study, randomised in a 2 x 2 factorial design.
Subjects and methods: Ninety patients (21 female) with suspected coronary artery disease (CAD), aged 38-80 years, were blindly randomised into one of four groups of daily oral treatment with (A) folic acid (0.8 mg)/vitamin B12 (0.4 mg)/vitamin B6 (40 mg), (B) folic acid/vitamin B12, (C) vitamin B6 alone or (D) placebo. Blood samples were collected before and after 6 months of treatment.
Results: Before intervention, median levels of the analytes were: tHcy 11.0 micromol L(-1), neopterin 8.1 nmol L(-1), soluble CD40 ligand (sCD40L) 3.9 ng mL(-1), interleukin (IL)-6 1.9 pg mL(-1), C-reactive protein (CRP) 1.9 mg L(-1) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol 3.3 mmol L(-1). tHcy was significantly associated with neopterin (r = 0.49, P < 0.001) and with IL-6 (r = 0.29, P = 0.01), but not with CRP or sCD40L. Neither treatment with folic acid/B12 nor with B6 induced significant changes in any of these inflammatory biomarkers (P >or= 0.14). In patients receiving folic acid/B12 (groups A and B), tHcy was reduced with 33% (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: In patients with stable CAD, homocysteine-lowering therapy with B-vitamins does not affect levels of inflammatory markers associated with atherogenesis. Failure to reverse inflammatory processes, may partly explain the negative results in clinical secondary B-vitamin intervention trials.