|Molar mass||135.18 g/mol|
|Appearance||White crystalline powder|
|Melting point||234–235 °C (453–455 °F; 507–508 K) (decomposes)|
|log P||-2.56 |
|Acidity (pKa)||2.25 |
|GHS signal word||Warning|
Except where noted otherwise, data is given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C (77 °F), 100 kPa)
|what is: / ?)(|
Homocysteine // is a non-protein α-amino acid. It is a homologue of the amino acid cysteine, differing by an additional methylene bridge (-CH2-). It is biosynthesized from methionine by the removal of its terminal Cε methyl group. Homocysteine can be recycled into methionine or converted into cysteine with the aid of certain B-vitamins.
A high level of homocysteine in the blood (hyperhomocysteinemia) makes a person more prone to endothelial cell injury, which leads to inflammation in the blood vessels, which in turn may lead to atherogenesis, which can result in ischemic injury. Hyperhomocysteinemia is therefore a possible risk factor for coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease occurs when an atherosclerotic plaque blocks blood flow to the coronary arteries, which supply the heart with oxygenated blood.
While detection of high levels of homocysteine has been linked to cardiovascular disease, there is no evidence that treatment with B-complex vitamin supplements to lower homocysteine levels improves outcomes.
Hyperhomocysteinemia has been correlated with the occurrence of blood clots, heart attacks and strokes, though it is unclear whether hyperhomocysteinemia is an independent risk factor for these conditions. Hyperhomoscyteinemia has also been associated with early pregnancy loss. 
Homocysteine exists at neutral pH values as a zwitterion.
Biosynthesis and biochemical roles
Homocysteine is not obtained from the diet. Instead, it is biosynthesized from methionine via a multi-step process. First, methionine receives an adenosine group from ATP, a reaction catalyzed by S-adenosyl-methionine synthetase, to give S-adenosyl methionine (SAM). SAM then transfers the methyl group to an acceptor molecule, (e.g., norepinephrine as an acceptor during epinephrine synthesis, DNA methyltransferase as an intermediate acceptor in the process of DNA methylation). The adenosine is then hydrolyzed to yield L-homocysteine. L-Homocysteine has two primary fates: conversion via tetrahydrofolate (THF) back into L-methionine or conversion to L-cysteine.
Biosynthesis of cysteine
Mammals biosynthesize the amino acid cysteine via homocysteine. Cystathionine β-synthase catalyses the condensation of homocysteine and serine to give cystathionine. This reaction uses pyridoxine (vitamin B6) as a cofactor. Cystathionine γ-lyase then converts this double amino acid to cysteine, ammonia, and α-ketobutyrate. Bacteria and plants rely on a different pathway to produce cysteine, relying on O-acetylserine.
Homocysteine can be recycled into methionine. This process uses N5-methyl tetrahydrofolate as the methyl donor and cobalamin (vitamin B12)-related enzymes. More detail on these enzymes can be found in the article for methionine synthase.
Other reactions of biochemical significance
Homocysteine can cyclize to give homocysteine thiolactone, a five-membered heterocycle. Because of this "self-looping" reaction, homocysteine-containing peptides tend to cleave themselves by reactions generating oxidative stress.
Common levels in Western populations are 10 to 12, and levels of 20 μmol/L are found in populations with low B-vitamin intakes or in the older elderly (e.g., Rotterdam, Framingham).
|Sex||Age||Lower limit||Upper limit||Unit||Elevated||Therapeutic target|
|Female||12–19 years||3.3||7.2||μmol/L||> 10.4 μmol/L
> 140 μg/dl
|< 6.3 μmol/L
< 85 μg/dL
|Male||12–19 years||4.3||9.9||μmol/L||> 11.4 μmol/L
> 150 μg/dL
The ranges above are provided as examples only; test results should always be interpreted using the range provided by the laboratory that produced the result.
Abnormally high levels of homocysteine in the serum, above 15 µmol/L, are a medical condition called hyperhomocysteinemia. This has been claimed to be a significant risk factor for the development of a wide range of diseases, including thrombosis, neuropsychiatric illness, and fractures. It is also found to be associated with microalbuminuria which is a strong indicator of the risk of future cardiovascular disease and renal dysfunction.
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- The Doctor's Doctor: Homocysteine
- Adëeva Nutritionals Canada > Optimal blood test values Retrieved on July 9, 2009
- Derived from molar values using molar massof 135 g/mol
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- Homocysteine MS Spectrum
- Homocysteine at Lab Tests Online
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- Prof. David Spence on homocysteine levels, kidney damage, and cardiovascular disease, The Health Report, Radio National, 24 May 2010