Relation of serum homocysteine levels to cerebral artery calcification and atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis. 2016 Nov:254:200-204. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2016.10.023. Epub 2016 Oct 13.


Background and aims: Elevated serum homocysteine level is known to be associated with increased risk of vascular event due to endothelial senescence. We investigated the association between serum homocysteine level and cerebral arteriosclerosis status including intracranial vascular calcification and atherosclerosis burden.

Methods: We identified 1193 consecutive patients (mean age = 68.6 ± 12.7, 537 female patients) who were admitted with acute cerebral infarction or transient ischemic attack from a single university medical center. The patients were categorized into three groups according to their serum homocysteine level. Cerebral artery calcification was assessed from the cavernous portion of both internal carotid arteries, and cerebral atherosclerosis burden was derived as the sum of stenosis degree of major intracranial arteries from brain computed tomography angiography.

Results: The mean homocysteine level was 14.1 ± 6.2 μmol/L, and intracranial cerebral artery calcification was present in 974 patients (81.6%), with 339 cases of advanced calcification (28.4%). The prevalence of cerebral artery calcification, advanced cerebral artery calcification and cerebral atherosclerosis burden showed increasing tendency throughout the homocysteine tertiles. Multivariable logistic regression analysis including age, sex, vascular risk factors, serum C-reactive protein, estimated glomerular filtration rate and homocysteine tertile disclosed that the highest serum homocysteine tertile was an independent predictor of advanced cerebral artery calcification (odds ratio = 1.45, confidence interval = 1.02-2.05) and advanced cerebral atherosclerosis (odds ratio = 1.42, confidence interval = 1.01-1.99) compared to the lowest group.

Conclusions: An elevated serum homocysteine level was independently associated with intracranial arterial calcification and atherosclerosis burden. Future studies are warranted to test whether lowering serum homocysteine can delay cerebral arteriosclerotic changes.

Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Cerebral artery; Homocysteine; Vascular calcification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Calcinosis / blood*
  • Calcinosis / pathology*
  • Carotid Artery, Internal / pathology*
  • Cerebral Arteries / pathology*
  • Computed Tomography Angiography
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Homocysteine / blood*
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Arteriosclerosis / blood*
  • Intracranial Arteriosclerosis / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors


  • Homocysteine
  • C-Reactive Protein