IMR Press / FBS / Volume 2 / Issue 1 / DOI: 10.2741/S70

Frontiers in Bioscience-Scholar (FBS) is published by IMR Press from Volume 13 Issue 1 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.

Homocysteine, vitamin determinants and neurological diseases
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1 Department of Biochemical, Physiological and Nutritional Sciences, University of Messina, Messina, Italy
2 Department of Neurosciences, Neurology Clinic, University of Messina, Messina, Italy

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.

Academic Editor: Giovanni Li Volti

Front. Biosci. (Schol Ed) 2010, 2(1), 359–372;
Published: 1 January 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biochemical markers in biological fluids)

This review focuses on the putative role of hyper-homocysteinemia in the pathogenesis of different diseases affecting the nervous system, including stroke, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. However, a firm pathogenic role of homocysteine in these diseases has never been established. Lowering plasma homocysteine levels trough vitamin therapy failed to prevent vascular diseases. Conversely, normalization of hyper-homocysteinemia caused improvement in patients with cognitive impairment. B vitamin deficiency is the main determinant of homocysteine levels. However, it has been hypothesized that homocysteine might be a mere marker of vitamin deficiency or an indicator of disease rather than a risk factor. A more consistent use of thresholds to define deficiency is needed to recommend routine screening, monitoring and supplementation of B vitamins to ameliorate the prognosis of the above mentioned disorders. To date, data are insufficient to firmly establish which one of the hypotheses made is correct and the question concerning the real meaning of hyper-homocysteinemia in the pathology of the nervous system still remains an intriguing medical dilemma.

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