Homocysteine, vitamin determinants and neurological diseases

Front Biosci (Schol Ed). 2010 Jan 1;2:359-72. doi: 10.2741/s70.


This review focuses on the putative role of hyper-homocysteinemia in the pathogenesis of different diseases affecting the nervous system, including stroke, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. However, a firm pathogenic role of homocysteine in these diseases has never been established. Lowering plasma homocysteine levels trough vitamin therapy failed to prevent vascular diseases. Conversely, normalization of hyper-homocysteinemia caused improvement in patients with cognitive impairment. B vitamin deficiency is the main determinant of homocysteine levels. However, it has been hypothesized that homocysteine might be a mere marker of vitamin deficiency or an indicator of disease rather than a risk factor. A more consistent use of thresholds to define deficiency is needed to recommend routine screening, monitoring and supplementation of B vitamins to ameliorate the prognosis of the above mentioned disorders. To date, data are insufficient to firmly establish which one of the hypotheses made is correct and the question concerning the real meaning of hyper-homocysteinemia in the pathology of the nervous system still remains an intriguing medical dilemma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Avitaminosis / metabolism*
  • Homocysteine / blood
  • Homocysteine / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia / complications*
  • Nervous System Diseases / blood
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Vascular Diseases / blood
  • Vascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Vitamin B Complex / metabolism


  • Homocysteine
  • Vitamin B Complex