Serial measurements of plasma homocysteine levels in early and late phases of ischemic stroke


Dr Elena Haapaniemi, Department of Neurology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Haartmaninkatu 4, 00290 Helsinki, Finland (tel.: +358 9 471 72662; fax: +358 9 471 74056; e-mail:


High plasma levels of homocysteine (Hcy) may predispose to ischemic stroke (IS), but results of previous studies have been conflicting. We decided to determine in IS patients whether their Hcy levels are elevated, whether levels vary at different time points following stroke, whether levels are associated with stroke severity, outcome, recurrence, etiology, infarct volume, or risk factors, and whether levels are correlated with hemostatic factors or C-reactive protein values. We measured plasma Hcy levels in 102 consecutive IS patients on admission and at 1 week, 1 month, and 3 months after stroke and once in 102 control subjects. Hemostatic factors were measured in 55 patients. Compared with controls, plasma Hcy levels in patients were significantly lower on admission but not at later time points, with levels increasing by week and remaining at this level for 3 months. Hcy levels showed a positive correlation with age and a negative correlation with Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores. Plasma Hcy levels inversely correlated with plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1. Decreased Hcy levels on admission may reflect the strength of the acute-phase response rather than a pathogenetic event. The negative correlation between Hcy levels and MMSE scores is more probably age-related than stroke-related.