Objective: Hyperhomocysteinaemia is related with premature coronary artery disease and adverse cardiac events in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). It is assumed that hyper-homocysteinaemia causes endothelial dysfunction. In this study, the effect of folic acid and oral N-acetylcysteine (NAC) therapies on plasma homocysteine levels and endothelial function were evaluated in hyperhomocysteinaemic patients with CAD.
Methods and results: 60 patients were randomized to either folic acid 5 mg or NAC 600 mg or placebo daily for eight weeks. Brachial artery endothelial functions were studied by using high-resolution ultrasound and assessed by measuring endothelium-dependent dilation (EDD) and endothelium-independent dilation (NEDD). Folic acid and NAC therapies decreased plasma homocysteine (from 21.7 +/- 8.7 micromol/l to 12.5 +/- 2.5 micromol/l, P < 0.001; from 20.9 +/- 7.6 micromol/l to 15.6 +/- 4.3 micromol/l, P = 0.03, respectively), and increased EDD (6.7 +/- 6.1% P = 0.002, 4.4 +/- 2.6% P < 0.001, respectively) compared with placebo. There was no significant difference in improving EDD between the folic acid and the NAC group (6.7 +/- 6.1%, 4.4 +/- 2.6%, P = 0. 168). In the univariate analyses there was an inverse correlation between the post-treatment homocysteine level and the percent change in EDD with folic acid therapy (r= -0.490, P = 0.028), but there was no correlation with the NAC therapy (r = 0.259, P = 0.333)
Conclusion: In patients with hyperhomocysteinaemic CAD, folic acid and NAC lowered plasma homocysteine levels and improved endothelial function. The effects of both treatments in improvement of EDD were similar.