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Homocysteine Metabolism, Atherosclerosis, And Diseases Of Aging.

Kilmer S. Mccully
Published 2015 · Medicine, Chemistry
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The importance of homocysteine in vascular function and arteriosclerosis was discovered by demonstration of arteriosclerotic plaques in children with homocystinuria caused by inherited enzymatic deficiencies of cystathionine synthase, methionine synthase, or methylene-tetrahydrofolate reductase. According to the homocysteine theory of arteriosclerosis, an elevated blood homocysteine level is an important risk factor for atherosclerosis in subjects without these rare enzymatic abnormalities. The homocysteine theory is supported by demonstration of arterial plaques in experimental animals with hyperhomocysteinemia, by discovery of a pathway for conversion of homocysteine thiolactone to sulfate in cell cultures from children with homocystinuria, and by demonstration of growth promotion by homocysteic acid in normal and hypophysectomized animals. Studies with cultured malignant cells revealed abnormal homocysteine thiolactone metabolism, resulting in homocysteinylation of proteins, nucleic acids, and glycosaminoglycans, explaining the abnormal oxidative metabolism, abnormalities of cellular membranes, and altered genetic expression observed in malignancy. Abnormal homocysteine metabolism in malignant cells is attributed to deficiency of thioretinamide, the amide synthesized from retinoic acid and homocysteine thiolactone. Two molecules of thioretinamide combine with cobalamin to form thioretinaco. Based on the molecular structure of thioretinaco, a theory of oxidative phosphorylation was proposed, involving oxidation to a disulfonium derivative by ozone, and binding of oxygen, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide and phosphate as the active site of adenosine triphosphate synthesis in mitochondria. Obstruction of vasa vasorum by aggregates of microorganisms with homocysteinylated low-density lipoproteins is proposed to cause ischemia of arterial wall and a microabscess of the intima, the vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque.

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