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Sport-related hyperhomocysteinaemia: a putative marker of muscular demand to be noted for cardiovascular risk
  1. P Borrione1,2,
  2. M Rizzo3,
  3. A Spaccamiglio2,
  4. R A Salvo2,
  5. A Dovio1,
  6. A Termine1,
  7. A Parisi3,
  8. F Fagnani3,
  9. A Angeli1,
  10. F Pigozzi3
  1. 1
    Internal Medicine, Department of Clinical and Biological Sciences, University of Turin, Turin, Italy
  2. 2
    Regional Anti-doping Center, Orbassano, Turin, Italy
  3. 3
    Department of Health Sciences, University Institute of Movement Science, Rome, Italy
  1. Paolo Borrione, Division of Internal Medicine, University of Turin, Regione Gonzole 10 Orbassano, Turin, Italy; pborrione{at}


Objective: Regular physical activity is associated with a reduction of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality; however, evidence of unfortunate cardiovascular events accompanying elite sport involvement continues to accumulate. To date, no information is available on possible peculiarities of the cardiovascular risk profile in athletes.

Design: The aim of this study was to evaluate plasma homocysteine levels in a group of athletes and to search for relationship with vitamin status and other metabolic variables in order to confirm the existence of a “sport-related hyperhomocysteinaemia” and to explain its clinical significance.

The study population was composed of 82 athletes (59 male and 23 female) practising different sports and 70 healthy age-matched subjects (40 male and 30 female) as a control group. Besides the general clinical and analytical determinations, the assessed variables included homocysteine, folate, vitamin B12, total and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), creatine kinase (CPK) and interleukin-6 (IL-6).

Results: The prevalence of hyperhomocysteinaemia (>15 μmol/l) in athletes and controls was 47% and 15%, respectively. No correlation was found between homocysteine and any of the other investigated variables, in particular plasma folate, blood pressure, LDH, CPK, total and HDL cholesterol and IL-6.

Conclusion: The results of this study confirm the existence of a sport-related hyperhomocysteinaemia which appears linked neither to the same variables found in the general population, nor to specific training-related variables. We suggest that it would represent an adaptation to training but the possibility of a secondary vascular damage cannot be excluded.

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  • Funding: This study was supported by a grant from the Ministry of Health of Italy – Commission for the Surveillance of Doping (CVD).

  • Competing interests: None declared.