Role of homocysteine in the development of cardiovascular disease

Nutr J. 2015 Jan 10:14:6. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-14-6.


It is well known that neuronal damage following a stroke has been attributed to the over stimulation of excitatory amino acids such as glutamate and aspartate through activation of NMDA receptors. The brain is exposed to most of the constituents of plasma including homocysteine as a result of the disruption of the blood-brain barrier after stroke, head trauma and stress. The question, therefore, arises as to whether or not homocysteine is able to selectively stimulate the release of excitatory amino acids in stroke. This review article will address the importance of homocysteine in nervous system specifically how these amino acids may trigger the release of catecholamines. Our data will thus strengthen the view that a mechanism for the association of hyperhomocysteinemia with increased brain lesion in stroke. As hypothalamus also controls the cardiac function via sympathetic system, the contractility of heart will be compromised. Homocysteine is also known to mediate cardiovascular problems by its adverse effects on cardiovascular endothelium and smooth muscle cells with resultant alterations in subclinical arterial structure and function. The present review will thus summarize both central and peripheral effects of homocysteine and will highlight some of the controversies associated with hyperhomocysteinemia-induced cardiovascular problems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / physiopathology
  • Catecholamines
  • Endothelium, Vascular
  • Homocysteine / blood
  • Homocysteine / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia / complications
  • Hypothalamus
  • Placebos
  • Stroke


  • Catecholamines
  • Placebos
  • Homocysteine