OBJECTIVE: Asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) is a recently identified potent cardiovascular risk factor. ADMA levels are increased in hyperhomocysteinaemia and the metabolism of ADMA is linked with that of homocysteine in several ways. Treatment with B vitamins effectively reduces homocysteine levels, but studies investigating the effect on ADMA levels are scarce and show conflicting results. In this study we evaluated the effect of treatment with B vitamins on ADMA levels in two high cardiovascular risk populations.
METHODS: In study I, 110 siblings of patients with clinical atherosclerotic disease and postmethionine hyperhomocysteinaemia were treated with 5 mg of folic acid and 250 mg of pyridoxine or placebo, and were analysed after 1 year. In study II, 41 patients with type 2 diabetes and mild hyperhomocysteinaemia were analysed after 6 months treatment with 5 mg of folic acid or placebo.
RESULTS: A correlation between baseline homocysteine and ADMA levels was found, which was partly due to confounding by renal function. Homocysteine levels decreased by 43% in study I and by 28% in study II. In both studies, treatment with B vitamins had no effect at all on ADMA, arginine/ADMA ratio and SDMA levels. This result was confirmed in multiple linear regression analyses with adjustment for baseline values and gender.
CONCLUSIONS: Our studies indicate that B vitamins, despite causing a substantial reduction in plasma homocysteine levels, have no beneficial effect on ADMA levels.