The treatment of hyperhomocysteinemia

Annu Rev Med. 2009:60:39-54. doi: 10.1146/


The unique biochemical profile of homocysteine is characterized by chemical reactivity supporting a wide range of molecular effects and by a tendency to promote oxidant stress-induced cellular toxicity. Numerous epidemiological reports have established hyperhomocysteinemia as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, dementia-type disorders, and osteoporosis-associated fractures. Although combined folic acid and B-vitamin therapy substantially reduces homocysteine levels, results from randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials testing the effect of vitamin therapy on outcome in these diseases have generally fallen short of expectations. These results have led some to abandon homocysteine monitoring in the management of patients with cardiovascular or cognitive disorders. These trials, however, have generally included patients with only mildly elevated homocysteine levels and have not addressed several clinical scenarios in which homocysteine reduction may be effective, including the primary prevention of atherothrombotic disease in individuals at low or intermediate risk, or those with severe hyperhomocysteinemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System Diseases / etiology
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia / complications
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia / drug therapy*
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia / etiology