If you have a client with a (suspected or diagnosed) chronic health condition or one with a family history of Cardiovascular Disease who is looking to take preventative measures, running functional tests that include the Homocysteine marker (HCY) can make a big difference to your client outcomes.

You may already have some familiarity with HCY, the amino acid formed from the metabolism of methionine. As well as being a marker for possible deficiencies in vitamin B12, B6 and folate, and a possible indicator of sub-optimal methylation pathways, there are a few things about this essential amino acid that you might not know.

1.    Why is the Homocysteine marker important in your clients’ big picture?

  • It can put clients at ease regarding their risks of CVD, heart attack and stroke, when standard GP tests show lipid levels are normal
  • You’ll get a clearer view of their Renal function, 70% of HCY clearance is through the kidneys
  • Their risk factor for cellular inflammation and inflammatory diseases will give you some clear action points
  • Further SNP testing and Methylation pathway functionality may be needed

2.    Considerations when testing for HCY

  • Implications of fasting versus HCY challenge – this is important as high protein intake prior to testing may affect the HCY reading. Equally, if the sample is taken in a fasted state but is still high, this further highlights the significance of elevated levels
  • Considerations of other factors e.g. protein malabsorption. It is helpful to consider HCY levels in the context of other markers that may suggest how effective an individual’s protein absorption is, such as total protein, urea, albumin, liver enzymes and many more. FDX reports include a protein status score to help guide you on this.
  • Being mindful of overall protein and specifically methionine intake in the diet

3.    “If my client shows elevated Homocysteine levels, what could this indicate?”

  1. Cardiovascular risk
    1. Methylation pathway issues
    1. Other conditions associated include
      1. Colon cancer
      1. Cervical cancer
      1. Depression
      1. Alzheimer’s
      1. IBD
      1. Autoimmunity
      1. Toxicity
      1. Inflammation
      1. Elevation of nitric oxide through binding of B12

4.    “What if my client has low Homocysteine levels?”

This may be an indicator of, or have an association with, one or more of the following:

  1. Detoxification impairment (depletion of cysteine and related compounds taurine, sulphate, glutathione)
    1. Oxidative stress
    1. Malnutrition-inflammation-cachexia syndrome in chronic kidney disease patients
    1. Peripheral neuropathy
  • Supplemental things you might not know about HCY
    • Production of homocysteine is affected by B12 levels
    • Methionine needs to be converted to SAMe (S Adenosylmethionine)
    • Low B6, B12, folate can be contributary to hyper (high) homocysteinuria.
    • Other contributors include Zinc, Trimethyl Glycine, Nitric Oxide, Magnesium, feedback mechanisms of Methionine, SAMe, IL-6, viruses, fasting & starvation.

It’s important to know when HCY markers are in the optimal range because of the implications for low or high values. Standard clinical ranges of this marker are set at 0-15 umol/L, a range which is not sensitive enough to detect lower levels, nor to detect some of the cardiovascular risks which have been found to be associated with “high normal” homocysteine ranges of 10 umol/L.

4 out of 6 of our panels include this marker as standard. FDX tests include reports on trends using optimal values; identifying and creating a more sensitive assessment of preventative or curative measures you and your clients can undertake to support their healthcare goals. Log in to your Fdx account now to order panels for your clients.