Relationships between homocysteine and related amino acids in chronic hemodialysis patients.Clin Nephrol 2001; 55(6):465-70CN
Homocysteine (Hcy) has emerged as an important risk factor for atherosclerotic disease. Elevated levels in chronic dialysis patients may contribute to high vascular mortality, but little is known about levels of related amino acids in this group. In an observational study in the clinical setting we sought to document these.
In 114 hemodialysis patients pre-dialysis total plasma homocysteine, vitamin B12 and red blood cell (RBC) folate concentrations were measured. In a subgroup of patients (n = 42), other plasma amino acids were measured pre- and post-dialysis. All patients were routinely taking oral folic acid supplements (1.2 mg per week).
Elevated homocysteine concentrations were found in all patients (geometric mean 33.1 umol/l, range 13.8 - 69.2 umol/l, laboratory reference range (RR) 3-13 umol/l). RBC folate levels were high (1223 +/- 54.5 nmol/l mean +/- SE, RR 300 - 710 nmol/l) and inversely related to pre-dialysis plasma Hcy (r = -0.44, p < 0.001). Hcy levels were not related to vitamin B12 levels. A history of vascular disease was not associated with higher concentrations of Hcy. Hcy clearance on dialysis was substantial (mean Hcy reduction 33 +/- 14%). While plasma methionine levels were normal, serine levels were significantly lower than the reference range (59.3 +/- 2.39 umol/l (mean +/- SE, RR 70 - 195 umol/l)) and directly related to levels of glycine (r = 0.52, p < 0.001). Glycine levels were within normal range. Although overall levels were low, higher serine levels were related to elevated homocysteine (r = 0.42, p < 0.01). Dialytic loss of glycine, serine and methionine was moderate.
An inverse association between RBC folate and homocysteine levels extended to 3 times the upper limit of normal for folate, suggesting a role for high dose folic acid supplementation in the treatment of renal-failure related hyperhomocysteinemia. Low serine levels are expected as it is primarily synthesized in the kidney. The direct relationship between serine and homocysteine is consistent with the reported lack of effect of serine supplements on high Hcy levels.