What do we know about homocysteine and exercise? A review from the literature

Clin Chem Lab Med. 2016 Oct 1;54(10):1561-77. doi: 10.1515/cclm-2015-1040.


High total homocysteine (tHcy) concentrations contribute to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and neurodegenerative disorders. Several investigations have focused on the effect of exercise on tHcy concentrations, but results remain controversial. The differences among the methodologies in the investigations make difficult the interpretation of results. This review differentiates the effects of exercise on tHcy and establishes the relation with the implicated biomarkers on tHcy metabolism related to exercise. The electronic database MEDLINE (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) was used for searching studies published between years 2002 and 2015. 'Homocysteine', 'Training ', 'Exercise', 'Physical Activity' as well as combinations out of these terms were entered in the database. Articles were grouped in: 1) Acute effect of exercise on tHcy, 2) chronic exercise and tHcy, 3) relationship of physical activity (PA) level and cardiorespiratory fitness with tHcy, and 4) biomarkers related to tHcy and exercise. From a total of 30 articles, most of the studies analyzing the acute effect of exercise showed an increase on tHcy concentrations. Studies analyzing the chronic effect on tHcy concentrations showed contradictory results and no consensus exists probably due to the differences in the methodology, exercise interventions and participants characteristics. Low cardiorespiratory fitness seems to be associated with high tHcy; in contrast, the relation of PA levels and tHcy needs further research. Regarding biomarkers related to tHcy and exercise, some studies showed an increase of folate, vitamin B12, and creatine after acute exercise that could to be due to requirement of protein turnover and an increased metabolic demand of vitamin-B.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / therapy*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Homocysteine / analysis*
  • Humans


  • Homocysteine