September 16, 2015

Homocysteine, Memory Loss And Dementia.. Is The Link Specific?

In earlier Blog updates we outlined characteristics that Sir Bradford Hill thought might be important in deciding whether an association with a disease was 'causal' or not.

Hill had studied the relationships between working conditions and disease.  He suggested that if an association were limited to certain workers and specific types of disease (i.e., it was 'specific') it would be a strong argument in favour of causation.

So, is a high blood homocysteine specifically linked to impaired brain function?

Homocysteine and the brain

As discussed in earlier Blogs, high homocysteine is associated with impaired cognitive function.

However, high levels are also associated with vascular disease, including stroke. High homocysteine has also been reported in patients with schizophrenia and depressive disorders.

Indeed, high levels are also associated with yet other disorders, including Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease.

So, specific or not?

In short, high blood levels of homocysteine appear to be associated with brain and vascular disorders, but not limited to a specific association with memory loss and dementia.


In our next Blog update we will consider whether high homocysteine precedes, or results from, cognitive decline.

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