Plasma homocysteine levels and Alzheimer's Disease: A systematic review

Oleg F Pavlov, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Objective. To systematically review studies published in English on the relationship between plasma total homocysteine (Hcy) levels and the clinical and/or postmortem diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) in subjects who are over 60 years old. Method. Medline, PubMed, PsycINFO and Academic Search Premier, were searched by using the keywords "homocysteine", "Alzheimer disease" and "dementia", and "cognitive disorders". In addition, relevant articles in PubMed using the "related articles" link and by cross-referencing were identified. The study design, study setting and study population, sample size, the diagnostic criteria of the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke (NINCDS) and the Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association (ADRDA), and description of how Hcy levels were measured or defined had to have been clearly stated. Empirical investigations reporting quantitative data on the epidemiology of the relationship between plasma total Hcy (exposure factor) and AD (outcome) were included in the systematic review. Results. A total of 7 studies, which included a total of 2,989 subjects, out of 388 potential articles met the inclusion criteria: four case control and three cohort studies were identified. All 7 studies had association statistics, such as the odds ratio (OR), the relative rates (RR), and the hazard ratio (HR) of AD, examined using multivariate and logistic regression analyses. Three case - comparison studies: Clarke et al. (1998) (OR: 4.5, 95% CI.: 2.2 - 9.2); McIlroy et al. (2002) (OR: 2.9, 95% CI.: 1.00–8.1); Quadri et al. (2004) (OR: 3.7, 95% CI.: 1.1 - 13.1), and two cohort studies: Seshadri et al. (2002) (RR: 1.8, 95% CI.: 1.3 - 2.5); Ravaglia et al. (2005) (HR: 2.1, 95% CI.: 1.7 - 3.8) found a significant association between serum total Hcy and AD. One case-comparison study, Miller et al. (2002) (OR: 2.2, 95% C.I.: 0.3 -16), and one cohort study, Luchsinger et al. (2004) (HR: 1.4, 95% C.I.: 0.7 - 2.3) failed to reject H0. Conclusions. The purpose of this review is to provide a thorough analysis of studies that examined the relationship between Hcy levels and AD. Five studies showed a positive statistically significant association between elevated total Hcy values and AD but the association was not statistically significant in two studies. Further research is needed in order to establish evidence of the strong, consistent association between serum total Hcy and AD as well as the presence of the appropriate temporal relationship. To answer these questions, it is important to conduct more prospective studies that examine the occurrence of AD in individuals with and without elevated Hcy values at baseline. In addition, the international standardization of measurements and cut-off points for plasma Hcy levels across laboratories is a critical issue to be addressed for the conduct of future studies on the topic.

Subject Area

Mental health|Public health|Epidemiology

Recommended Citation

Pavlov, Oleg F, "Plasma homocysteine levels and Alzheimer's Disease: A systematic review" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1467408.