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Keywords:

  • Folic acid;
  • haemostasis;
  • homocysteine;
  • inflammation;
  • peripheral arterial occlusive disease

Abstract

Background  Although peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAOD) is significantly associated with elevated homocysteine levels, the clinical relevance of hyperhomocysteinaemia for the prevention and progression of PAOD is still unknown.

Materials and methods  A total of 65 patients suffering from symptomatic PAOD with elevated homocysteine levels were randomized onto placebo or B-vitamins (50 mg thiaminhydrochlorid, 50 mg pyridoxine, and 0·05 mg cyanocobalamin), plus 5 mg folic acid daily for 6 weeks. Serum levels of folic acid, vitamin B12, creatinine, ultra-sensitive C-reactive protein (usCRP), interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, IL-18, monocyte-chemo-attractant-protein-1 (MCP-1) and plasma levels of homocysteine, tissue factor (TF) and tissue factor pathway inhibitor (TFPI) were determined on the 1st day and 42nd day. Primary outcome was reduction of homocysteine, secondary outcomes were reduction of usCRP, IL-6, IL-8, Il-18, MCP-1, TF and TFPI.

Results  The mean reduction of homocysteine concentration was 33% (95%CI 33·36–55·76, or 18·9 ± 5·4 µmol L−1−12·6 ± 2·8 µmol L−1, P = 0) in the B-vitamin group compared with 1% in the placebo group. Folic acid (P = 0) and vitamin B12 (P = 0) increased significantly in the verum group, but both remained unchanged in the control group. No treatment effect of lowering of homocysteine on any markers of haemostasis (TF, TFPI) or inflammation (usCRP, IL-6, IL-8, IL-18 and MCP-1) was observed.

Conclusion  Although homocysteine is associated with vascular disease risk in the general population and in particular with PAOD, marked lowering of homocysteine concentrations by folic acid and B-vitamin supplementation does not influence inflammatory responses involving usCRP, IL-6, IL-8, IL-18 and MCP-1, nor tissue factor. These results provide evidence against a major effect of hyperhomocysteinaemia on vascular chronic inflammation or coagulation in patients with symptomatic peripheral arterial occlusive disease.