No change in impaired endothelial function after long-term folic acid therapy of hyperhomocysteinaemia in haemodialysis patients

Nephrol Dial Transplant. 1998 Jan;13(1):106-12. doi: 10.1093/ndt/13.1.106.


Background: Hyperhomocysteinaemia is frequent in chronic haemodialysis patients. Because of its potential role in athero- and thrombogenesis, the effects of long-term homocysteine-lowering treatment on endothelial function are of interest.

Methods: We conducted a randomized, controlled trial in 35 haemodialysis patients. In phase 1, patients were treated with 5 mg folic acid or 5 mg folic acid and 4 g betaine per day for 12 weeks, and in phase 2 with 1 or 5 mg folic acid daily for 40 weeks. In phase 3, all patients received 15 mg folic acid daily for four weeks. Endothelial function was assessed before and after 52 weeks of treatment by determination of flow-mediated vasodilatation of the brachial artery, and by measuring plasma levels of endothelium-derived proteins.

Results: Non-fasting predialysis plasma total homocysteine was markedly elevated at baseline (46.9 +/- 6.3 mumol/l) and decreased rapidly after initiation of therapy. Significant differences in plasma homocysteine between the groups were found neither during phase 1 nor phase 2. Plasma total homocysteine had normalized in only two out of 30 patients at the end of phase 2. Increasing the daily folic acid dose to 15 mg did not further reduce plasma total homocysteine. Endothelial function parameters did not improve.

Conclusions: We concluded that betaine is not effective in conjunction with folic acid in the treatment of hyperhomocysteinaemia in haemodialysis patients. Normalization of plasma total homocysteine is seldom achieved with 1, 5 or 15 mg folic acid daily, which may explain why long-term homocysteine-lowering treatment with 1 or 5 mg folic acid does not ameliorate endothelial function.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Betaine / therapeutic use
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Homocysteine / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Renal Dialysis*


  • Homocysteine
  • Betaine
  • Folic Acid