Introduction: Elevated serum homocysteine level is known to be associated with increased risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular event possibly through endothelial senescence. Also, homocysteine was reported to be a potential regulator of vascular calcification in animal study.
Hypothesis: We hypothesized that elevated homocysteine level is associated with cerebral artery calcification.
Methods: We identified 708 consecutive patients (mean age 66.3+/-12.9, 297 female patients) who were admitted with acute ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack. Cerebral artery calcification was assessed from brain CT angiography, and advanced calcification was determined when calcification involved long (more than 1 cm) or thick (50% or more of vessel diameter) segment of distal cavernous internal carotid artery. Hyperhomocyseinemia was defined as serum homocysteine level exceeding 15 umol/L on admission.
Results: Cerebral artery calcification from brain CT angiography was present in 546 patients (77.2%). Advanced cerebral artery calcification was detected in 156 patients (22.1%), and hyperhomocysteienemia was detected in 171 patients (24.2%). On bivariate analysis, advanced cerebral artery calcification was associated with hypertension, diabetes mellitus, smoking, atrial fibrillation, previous stroke history, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and elevated homocysteine level. Multivariate logistic regression analysis including hyperhomocysteinemia, vascular risk factors, age>70 years and hsCRP>2.0mg/dL showed that hyperhomocysteinemia is independently associated with advanced cerebral artery calcification (odds ratio 1.8, confidence interval 1.1-2.8, p=0.011).
Conclusion: Hyperhomocysteinemia was associated with advanced cerebral artery calcification. Our study suggests that homocysteine may be used as a biomarker for cerebral artery calcification.