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Serum homocysteine

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What is Homocysteine?
A homocysteine test is used to measure the amount of homocysteine in your blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid that the body uses to make protein. Since vitamins B6, B12, and folate are necessary to metabolize homocysteine, increased levels of the amino acid may be a sign of deficiency of these vitamins.The homocysteine test is advised if you are at high risk for heart disease. It also helps detect deficiency of vitamin B6, B12, and folate. In addition to that, it helps diagnose homocystinuria in newborns and infants.

The normal homocysteine levels in the blood range between 4 and 15µmol/L. Excess levels of homocysteine can build up in the arteries, which may increase your risk of blood clots, heart attack, and stroke.

Eating a balanced diet can help maintain the right amount of vitamins in the body.

Why is Homocysteine done?

The Homocysteine Test is performed:

  • To screen for heart attack and stroke, especially in people with no risk factors but with a family history of cardiovascular diseases.
  • To detect and diagnose an inherited disease called homocystinuria in newborns and infants
  • To detect deficiency of Vitamin B6, B12, or Folic acid
  • What does Homocysteine Measure?
  • The Homocysteine Test measures the levels of homocysteine in the blood.

Homocysteine is an amino acid which is an intermediate in the production of cysteine from methionine. Methionine is obtained from dietary sources, mainly fish, meat, and dairy products, and is converted to homocysteine, and then to cysteine in the body. This conversion from methionine to cysteine is regulated by various enzymes which require Vitamin B6, B12, and folic acid to work. Deficiency of these vitamins causes an increase in the levels of homocysteine in the body. Increased homocysteine levels in the blood can be due to a rare genetic disease called homocystinuria, where the enzymes needed for methionine metabolism are dysfunctional.

Increased levels of homocysteine in the blood are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases including atherosclerosis, thrombosis (formation of blood clots) in blood vessels, heart attack, and stroke. It has also been implicated in some studies with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.


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