High dose B-vitamin treatment of hyperhomocysteinemia in dialysis patients
Hyperhomocysteinemia, an arteriosclerotic risk factor, persists in 75% of dialysis patients despite routine low dose supplementation with the B-vitamin co-factors/substrates for homocysteine (Hcy) metabolism, and normal or supernormal plasma status of these vitamins (Atherosclerosis 114:93, 1995). We conducted a placebo-controlled eight-week trial of the effect on plasma homocysteine of adding supraphysiologic dose folic acid (15 mg/day), B-6 (100 mg/day), and B-12 (1 mg/day) to the usual daily dosing of 1 mg folic acid, 10 mg B-6, and 12 μg B-12, in 27 hyperhomocysteinemic dialysis patients. Total plasma homocysteine was measured at baseline, and after four and eight weeks. Blinded analyses revealed no evidence of toxicity in the group randomized to supraphysiologic dose B-vitamin supplementation. Plasma homocysteine was significantly reduced after both four weeks (-29.8% vs. -2.0%; P = 0.0024) and eight weeks (-25.8% vs. +0.6%; P = 0.0009) of active versus placebo treatment. Also, 5 of 15 treated versus 0 of 12 placebo group patients had their plasma Hey reduced to within the normative range (< 15 μmol/liter). Supraphysiologic doses of B-vitamins may be required to correct hyperhomocysteinemia in dialysis patients.