The Hordaland Homocysteine Study: a community-based study of homocysteine, its determinants, and associations with disease.
Refsum H., Nurk E., Smith AD., Ueland PM., Gjesdal CG., Bjelland I., Tverdal A., Tell GS., Nygård O., Vollset SE.
The Hordaland Homocysteine Study (HHS) is a population-based study of more than 18,000 men and women in the county of Hordaland in Western Norway. The first investigation (HHS-I) took place in 1992-93, when the subjects were aged 40-67 y. In 1997-99, a follow-up study (HHS-II) of 7,053 subjects was carried out. In this large population, plasma levels of total homocysteine (tHcy) are associated with several physiologic and lifestyle factors and common diseases. Increasing age, male sex, smoking, coffee consumption, high blood pressure, unfavorable lipid profile, high creatinine, and the MTHFR 677C > T polymorphism are among the factors associated with increased tHcy levels; physical activity, moderate alcohol consumption, and a good folate or vitamin B-12 status are associated with lower tHcy levels. Subjects with raised tHcy levels have increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity, cardiovascular and noncardiovascular mortality, and are more likely to suffer from depression and from cognitive deficit (elderly). Among women, raised tHcy levels are associated with decreased bone mineral density and increased risk of osteoporosis. Women with raised tHcy levels also have an increased risk of having suffered from pregnancy complications and an adverse pregnancy outcome. Significant associations between tHcy and clinical outcomes are usually observed for tHcy levels > 15 micromol/L, but for most conditions, there is a continuous concentration-response relation with no apparent threshold concentration. Overall, the findings from HHS indicate that a raised tHcy level is associated with multiple clinical conditions, whereas a low tHcy level is associated with better physical and mental health.