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Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM)

Published in Association with the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM)

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Elevated plasma total homocysteine in centenarians

Mariano Malaguarnera / Giovanni Pistone / Massimo Motta / Ernesto Vinci / Giovanni Oreste / Gino Avellone / Salvatore Musumeci

Citation Information: Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine. Volume 42, Issue 3, Pages 307–310, ISSN (Print) 1434-6621, DOI: 10.1515/CCLM.2004.056, June 2005

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Homocysteine (Hcy) is a sulfur-containing metabolite of methionine and is an emerging independent risk factor for atherosclerosis. Previous studies have shown that age, gender, renal function and folic acid intake are the main factors influencing total plasma Hcy levels in humans. A unique approach to the science of human longevity is the natural model of centenarians. The objective of this study was to verify whether the previously determined risk factors for atherosclerosis and atherosclerosis-related diseases change with age and, finally, to establish the vitamin nutritional status role.

We studied 54 centenarians (14 males and 40 females) aged between 100–107 years (mean age 102.6±1.8 years) living in Sicily (Italy), recruited via the Registry Office, and compared them with three control groups composed of subjects with different age ranges. Total plasma Hcy, folate, vitamin B12 and pyridoxal phosphate (PLP) levels were compared between the groups by the Student's t test. The comparison between centenarians and <65-year old, randomly selected individuals showed that in centenarians the mean value of serum creatinine levels was 18 μmol/l (p=0.000) higher, the mean total Hcy value was 22 μmol/l higher (p=0.000), the mean PLP value was 17.9 nmol/l lower (p=0.000), the mean folate level was 2.1 nmol/l lower (p<0.001) and vitamin B12 was 70.5 pmol/l lower (p=0.000). The comparison between centenarians and >65-year old, randomly selected individuals showed that in centenarians the mean value of serum creatinine levels was 8 μmol/l higher (p=0.037), the mean total Hcy value was 11.6 μmol/l higher (p=0.000) and the mean PLP value was 4.2 nmol/l higher (p=0.000).

It seems that centenarians are protected by some mechanism (maybe genetic) that allows them a long survival despite the high value of homocysteinemia. On the other hand, it can by hypothesized that good vitamin intake is essential to live over 100 years.

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