Homocysteine & Women’s Health
Homocysteine is a thio-containing amino acid produced by the intracellular demethylation of methionine. Elevated levels of homocysteine (hyperhomocysteinemia) is more common in women than in men and is associated with a wide array of illnesses. It has also been proven to cause several problems in women including: cardiovascular disease (CVD), colon cancer, pregnancy complications, and birth defects.
Elevated levels of circulating homocysteine correlates with an increased risk of vascular occlusion (blockage of a blood vessel). Hyperhomocysteinemia can cause inflammation of the endothelium (thin layer of cells linking the interior blood vessels). Failure to lower homocysteine levels can cause further inflammation of the arteries, veins, and capillaries causing atherosclerosis. Consequently, blood and oxygen supply to tissues is reduced, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Elevated levels correlates with higher diastolic and systolic blood pressure, hypertension. However, this correlation is stronger in women than in men. Women with elevated levels of homocysteine have a 3-fold increased risk of CVD, whereas men have a 2-fold increased risk.
Women with hyperhomocysteinemia have an increased risk of colorectal cancer than women with lower levels. Women who present with the highest levels of homocysteine have more than a 70% increased colorectal cancer risk. A correlation between reduced levels of folate and increased levels of homocysteine have been found in women with colorectal adenoma. It is recommended that women with hyperhomocysteinemia and reduced levels of folate should increase their intake of fruit and vegetables to reduce their levels of homocysteine and increase their levels of folate.
Pregnancy Complications and Birth Defects
Homocysteine levels should decline during pregnancy, however, in some cases, levels increase. Hyperhomocysteinemia is associated with foetal neural tube defects which causes various conditions, characterised by placental vasculopathy, including pre-eclampsia, abruption, and recurrent pregnancy loss. It has been identified that folate supplementation can half the risk of foetal neural tube defects. One study found that hyperhomocysteinemia was associated with a 2-fold to 3-fold increased risk for pregnancy-induced hypertension, abrupyio placentae, and intrauterine growth restriction.
Randox Homocysteine Reagent
The Randox Homocysteine assay offers a few unique features:
- Limited interference from Bilirubin, Haemoglobin, Triglycerides, and Intralipid, producing more accurate and precise results.
- Two-reagent format for convenience and ease of use
- Calibrator provided with kit, simplifying the ordering process
Other features include:
- Liquid ready-to-use reagents – for optimum user experience
- Excellent linearity – 47. 9 μmol/L, ensuring abnormally high levels of homocysteine are detected.
- Enzymatic method
- Tri-level cardiac control available
Do you want to have optimal brain function later in life? We do. The majority of people focus on keeping their bodies in optimal condition but often forget about the most important organ, the brain. With more of us living until we’re much older, reduced brain function and Alzheimer’s are becoming increasingly more common; it is one of the most feared consequences of aging. We expect our bodies to age due to wear and tear; however there are easy ways to slow it, you will be glad to hear. Here are some top tips to keep your brain health at its peak.
- Get physical exercise
It is becoming an increasingly well-known fact by scientists that regular exercise may be the single most important thing you can do to ensure optimum brain health. The reason for this is that exercise increases the blood supply to your brain so therefore increases your brain capacity. Experts advise 30 minutes of exercise every other day to ensure good mental health. Exercise also helps with cholesterol levels, mental stress and diabetes.
- Eat, eat, eat
Good nutrition is also essential for good brain health. Your brain is no different to any other organ: the better the fuel it receives; the better it works, simple. As with everything it is important to keep your calories in check as it has been proven to reduce mental illness. We aim to reduce the consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol as these can decrease brain function. No matter who you are, vitamins are also very important to ensure not only a healthy brain, but a healthy body. Vitamins of particular importance are folic acid, B6 and B12 which it is well-known can help lower your homocysteine levels. There is an ever-growing body of research which suggests that homocysteine levels have a strong correlation with Alzheimer’s and dementia. If you would like to read more about the link between homocysteine and Alzheimer’s, check out our previous blog post ‘How important is homocysteine research for Alzheimer’s disease?’
- Get enough sleep
Recent studies have suggested that a poor sleeping pattern is linked with cognitive decline in old age. A good night’s rest can actually double the chances of finding creative solutions to problems faced in everyday life! It has been proven that when we don’t sleep, proteins build up on the brain. These proteins build on the synapses, making it hard to think and learn new information; which is not conducive to good brain health.
Relaxation is key in a healthy lifestyle. Stress has a negative impact on the brain. It creates harmful chemicals to flow over areas of the brain that are in control of memory. Too much of these chemicals can lead to dementia and other memory loss related diseases, so maybe it’s not such a bad idea that you take that trip to the Bahamas you were thinking about!
- Improve you cholesterol
Cholesterol is commonly split up into good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL). There are loads of ways to improve your cholesterol levels such as exercise, weight control, dieting and avoiding tobacco. It is very important to keep you levels of LDL down as high levels can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s, dementia and cardiac problems in old age. At Randox we are constantly coming up with new and exciting ways of monitoring your cholesterol and the launch of our new HDL3 test is coming soon. For more information on HDL3, check it out here!
- Brain exercises
Challenging your mind from time to time is important for good brain health; it keeps your brain active and uses cognitive thought to try and learn or solve a problem. It is thought that a lack of education is a strong influence in cognitive decline. Challenging your brain improves memory, develops critical thinking and stimulates the whole brain ensuring brain health is kept to a maximum. It can often be done in fun ways like brain teasers, puzzles and jigsaws. Check out our recent brain teaser here!
These are only some of the ways in which to keep your brain in peak condition. Aging will take a toll on everyone and it is impossible to avoid; however these 6 techniques can help maintain optimal brain function! We have been keeping up to date with Alzheimer’s in celebration of World Alzheimer’s Month. Remember a healthy brain is the key to success!
For health professionals
Randox Laboratories manufacture a wide range of routine and niche biochemistry reagents suitable for both research and clinical use. These include an automated homocysteine test and our new HDL3 cholesterol assay. Please contact email@example.com for further information.
It is widely recognised that high homocysteine levels in the blood (hyperhomocysteinemia) can cause inflammation in the blood vessels, which in turn may lead to atherogenesis and ischemic injury. High homocysteine levels are therefore a possible risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD), or heart disease.
However a new study published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis in April 2016 (conducted by Young Cheul Chung and colleagues, from Rockefeller University in New York City) has looked into the growing evidence to suggest that hyperhomocysteinemia is also correlated with Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. This study was undertaken to clarify the specific role of elevated homocysteine levels in Alzheimer’s disease pathophysiology.
The study was carried out on mice, and showed a promising link between high levels of homocysteine and Alzheimer’s disease. It showed that diet-induced hyperhomocysteinemia in an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model leads to severe cerebral amyloid angiopathy and parenchymal amyloid-β deposition, as well as significant impairments in learning and memory, suggesting that elevated levels of plasma homocysteine and its metabolite, homocysteine thiolactone, contribute to Alzheimer’s disease pathology.
Commenting on an earlier study, Dr Susanne Sorensen, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society UK said that the molecule [homocysteine] is carried by everyone, but those who go on to develop some dementias appear to have higher levels of the compound. She also stressed that research is needed to establish just what role if any homocysteine plays in the development of dementia and how best to keep levels of the molecule low.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive mental decline that can occur in middle to old age, due to a degeneration of the brain. It is the most common cause of premature senility, and is also the most common form of dementia, affecting 62% of those diagnosed. Vascular dementia is another form, affecting 17% of those diagnosed.
Paul McGivern, Clinical Chemistry R&D Manager at global healthcare company Randox Laboratories, has commented
“Dementia is a terminal condition and with 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, there is an urgent need for further research into the link between Alzheimer’s disease and homocysteine levels. If we can better establish this link, it may give future researchers the tools necessary to find a prevention, or even a cure to this condition.”
With the number of dementia sufferers set to rise to over 1 million by 2025, soaring to 2 million by 2051, the need for further research into the link between homocysteine levels and Alzheimer’s disease has never been more pressing.
For health professionals
Randox Laboratories offer an automated test for the biochemistry measurement of homocysteine. This is available for use on a wide range of manufacturer’s analysers. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information, or to request a kit insert or application.