Aims Limited data are available on determinants of diabetic neuropathy as its pathogenesis is multifactorial. Since homocysteine exhibits toxic effects on vascular endothelial cells, the association between homocysteine and the prevalence of neuropathy in Type 2 diabetes mellitus was investigated.
Methods A total of 65 Type 2 diabetic patients were consecutively enrolled into the study. Neuropathy was diagnosed according to clinical symptoms, clinical examination, electrophysiological sensory testing and autonomic function testing. With regard to homocysteine-related parameters, plasma homocysteine, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and renal function (creatinine, ceratinine clearance, cystatin C) were measured, and the C677T polymorphism of the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene was determined.
Results Forty-three of the Type 2 diabetic patients were classified as suffering from neuropathy. Both patient groups were comparable with regard to demographic data, blood pressure, glucose metabolism, renal function and homocysteine-related vitamins. In contrast, homocysteine levels (P = 0.04) and the frequency of hyperhomocysteinemia (≥ 15 μmol/l) (P = 0.01) were significantly increased in neuropathic patients. In a logistic regression model with neuropathy as dependent variable, homocysteine (adjusted for creatinine, homocysteine-related vitamins, HbA1c and duration of diabetes) was the only significant variable associated with the prevalence of neuropathy (odds ratio for homocysteine per 5 μmol/l increase: 2.60 (95% confidence interval 1.07–6.33)).
Conclusion The data indicate that homocysteine is independently associated with the prevalence of diabetic neuropathy in a collective of Type 2 diabetic patients. A larger, prospective study would be desirable to clarify the role of homocysteine in the pathogenesis of diabetic neuropathy.