Homocysteine and blood pressure.
Several studies, some population-based, have linked plasma homocysteine levels to blood pressure, especially systolic pressure. The strength of this association is weak, but may be underestimated due to inaccurate blood pressure measurements. In addition, the association may be confounded by renal function. Observations that homocysteine-lowering therapies with folic acid-based treatments have been followed by decreases in blood pressure, however, raise the possibility that the link between homocysteine and blood pressure is real, which is important as homocysteine levels can easily be lowered by folic acid-based regimens. Mechanisms that could explain the relationship between homocysteine and blood pressure include increased arterial stiffness, endothelial dysfunction with decreased availability of nitric oxide, low folate status, and insulin resistance. So far, however, no evidence has been provided that these mechanisms are operative in humans. Ongoing large intervention studies with homocysteine-lowering vitamins may indicate whether blood pressure is indeed lowered by these vitamins, whether the blood pressure decrease, if any, is explained by the decrease in homocysteine levels, and whether a vitamin treatment-associated decrease in cardiovascular morbidity (if any) is explained by the decrease in blood pressure.