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09-08-2010 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Plasma folate tallies with lipid levels


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MedWire News: People with high plasma folate levels are likely to have a favorable lipid profile, research suggests.

Raised homocysteine levels are thought to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Folate suppresses homocysteine levels, and, it is thought, may reduce vascular risk, although randomized trials have so far failed to show such an effect.

The current study, by Michael Linnebank (University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland) and colleagues looked at folate and lipid levels in 1743 patients drawn from a hospital laboratory database.

Overall, folate correlated negatively with low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, positively with high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, and negatively with the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol.

Vitamin B12 levels were not associated with lipid profiles, however.

Average levels of HDL cholesterol were 1.42 mmol/l (54.9 mg/dl) among people in the top quartile of folate levels (≥18.75 nmol/l) compared with 1.26 mmol/l (48.8 mg/dl) among those in the bottom quartile (≤8.75 nmol/l).

The corresponding levels of LDL cholesterol were 3.21 versus 3.67 mmol/l (124.2 vs 142.0 mg/dl) and the LDL to HDL cholesterol ratios were 2.47 versus 3.77.

These differences are likely to be "physiologically relevant," say Linnebank et al in the Nutrition Journal.

The associations were independent of age and gender, but the database did not contain information on individuals' dietary and lifestyle habits.

The researchers therefore caution that their results require replication in a cohort with defined clinical and dietary status, "as our data raise the question whether high folate levels and favorable lipoprotein profiles coincide due to nutritional reasons or a healthy lifestyle."

But previous studies have suggested a direct link between lipoprotein and homocysteine metabolism, they add.

"Studies investigating whether medical manipulation of the lipoprotein profile impacts folate metabolism and whether folate substitution is relevant for the lipoprotein profile may be interesting," concludes the team.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Eleanor McDermid