Homocysteine - the biochemistry of - not essential reading but interesting!

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The Biochemistry of the Homocysteine Theory

A raised homocysteine is a major risk factor for arterial disease. Homocysteine is an essential protein which is part of the methylation cycle - see CFS - The Methylation Cycle. This is an essential tool kit that allows one to methylate! There are three B vitamins essential to allow the methylation cycle to work namely vitamin B12, B6 and folic acid. These B vitamins are nearly always low in people eating Western diets who are not taking supplements. More reasons for Nutritional Supplements - what everybody should be taking all the time even if nothing is wrong

High homocysteine runs in families

If there is a strong family history of arteriosclerosis, then homocysteine screening should be done, especially if there is no obvious other reason. If one family member is affected, first degree relatives should also be screened.

Why high homocysteine damages arteries

Essentially it amplifies the repair process of damage in a way that causes even more problems! The build up of homocysteine causes the formation of homocysteine thiolactone made from methionine in the liver by an enzyme that participates in protein formation and other processes. This build up of homocysteine thiolactone causes low density lipoprotein to become aggregated. Thus LDL homocysteine thiolactone aggregates are released from the blood into the liver and are taken up by the macrophages of the artery walls to form the foam cells that are seen in early arteriosclerotic plaques. These foam cells then degrade the aggregates mentioned and release fat and cholesterol into the developing plaques. The foam cells also release homocysteine thiolactone into surrounding cells of the artery walls affecting the way that cells handle oxygen. As a result highly reactive oxygen radicals accumulate within cells damaging the lining cells of arteries, promoting blood clot formation and stimulating the growth of arterial muscle cells which form fibrous tissue, a mucoid matrix and degenerative elastic tissue.

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