Homocysteine, vitamin determinants and neurological diseases

Riccardo Ientile*, Monica Curro', Nadia Ferlazzo, Salvatore Condello, Daniela Caccamo, Francesco Pisani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-372
Number of pages14
JournalFrontiers in Bioscience - Scholar
Volume2 S
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010


  • Folate
  • Homocysteine
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Review
  • Vitamin B12

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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