Effect of folic acid and betaine on fasting and postmethionine-loading plasma homocysteine and methionine levels in chronic haemodialysis patients.J Intern Med 1999; 245(2):175-83JI
To study fasting and postmethionine-loading (increment and decrement) plasma homocysteine levels in end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients in relation to B-vitamin status and after folic acid treatment without or with betaine.
Plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) and methionine levels were measured in chronic haemodialysis patients after an overnight fast, and 6 and 24 h after an oral methionine load (0.1 g kg-1). The patients were subsequently randomized to treatment with folic acid 5 mg daily with or without betaine 4 g daily, and the loading test was repeated after 12 weeks. The patients were then re-randomized to treatment with 1 or 5 mg folic acid daily for 40 weeks, after which a third loading test was performed.
Haemodialysis unit of university hospital and centre for haemodialysis.
Twenty-nine consecutive maintenance (> 3 months) haemodialysis patients, not on folic acid supplementation, 26 of whom completed the study.
At baseline, the mean fasting, the 6 h postload and the 6 h postload increment plasma tHcy levels were increased as compared with those in healthy controls (46.8 +/- 6.9 (SEM), 92.8 +/- 9.1 and 46.0 +/- 4.2 mumol L-1, respectively) and correlated with serum folate (r = -0.42, P = 0.02; r = -0.61, P = 0.001 and r = -0.54, P = 0.003, respectively), but not with vitamin B6 or vitamin B12. At week 12, these variables had all decreased significantly. Betaine did not have additional homocysteine-lowering effects. At week 52, fasting and postload tHcy levels did not differ significantly between patients on 1 or 5 mg folic acid daily. Plasma tHcy half-life and plasma methionine levels after methionine loading were not altered by folic acid treatment.
In chronic haemodialysis patients, fasting as well as postmethionine-loading plasma tHcy levels depend on folate status and decrease after folic acid therapy. Increased postload homocysteine levels in these patients therefore do not necessarily indicate an impaired transsulphuration capacity only; alternatively, folate may indirectly influence transsulphuration. The elucidation of the complex pathogenesis of hyperhomocysteinaemia in chronic renal failure requires further investigation.