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Homocysteine Level Tied to COPD Severity, Study Says


The same group of patients had their homocysteine level tested when their COPD was exacerbated and also when it was not.

The level of homocysteine (Hcy) was linked to the severity of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a recent study.

Hcy, a sulfur-containing amino acid in the blood, is broken down by vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and folic acid; elevated levels could signal a vitamin deficiency, heart disease, or a rare disorder.

Other studies have indicated that elevated Hcy levels could be linked to poorer outcomes in COPD, said the researchers, writing in BMC Pulmonary Medicine. With the current study, they sought to probe whether Hcy level was elevated in patients with COPD and see if it correlated with the occurrence and acute progression of COPD.

The study included patients recruited from a hospital in Beijing, China, from November 2014 to November 2015.

In the COPD group (n = 150), 60% were male and 40% were female; in the control group (n= 50), 56% were male and 44% were female. The majority of the patients had moderate (GOLD grade B) or severe (GOLD grade C) COPD.

Patients had their Hcy levels tested in both the nonacute exacerbation period and the acute exacerbation (AE) period. The patients were divided by their AE status: AECOPD and non-AECOPD group.

Statistical methods included correlation analysis and ROC curve analysis.

The authors wrote that they “found the level of Hcy in AECOPD and non-AECOPD patients were significantly higher than that in the control group. The reason for the high level of Hcy in AECOPD patients may be due to the increased consumption and insufficient intake, leading to the long-term deficiency of vitamin B in vivo.”

Compared with the non-AECOPD group, the Hcy level in the AECOPD group was significantly higher (P < .001). Results also showed that Hcy levels increased as GOLD grades progressed from mild to severe (P < .001).

In addition, the correlation analysis showed Hcy levels presented a negative correlation (r < 0) with forced expiratory volume in 1 second.

The authors noted some limitations with the study: it had a small sample size, it did not track the patients’ outcomes over a long period of time, and it did not include patients with the most severe COPD (GOLD grade D).

“The relationship between Hcy level and the prognosis of COPD patients still needs further study,” the authors said.


Wei B, Tian T, Liu Y, Li C. The diagnostic value of homocysteine for the occurrence and acute progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. BMC Pulm Med. Published online September 7, 2020. doi:10.1186/s12890-020-01265-w

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