Homocysteine when planning pregnancy - what is it, how to take it, reasons for the increase
Homocysteine is an amino acid that does not contain protein inclusions. It does not enter the body with food, but is formed in it as a result of a number of biochemical reactions. Homocysteine is produced from another amino acid called methionine (which is an essential amino acid). The human body cannot produce it on its own, so it takes methionine from food. This amino acid is contained in eggs, cottage cheese, meat. If a person does not have a deficiency of folic acid and B vitamins, then homocysteine can pass through a number of metabolic processes and again be transformed into methionine.
Methionine is important for the human body, but if he abuses food that contains this acid, then its level begins to exceed the permissible limits. The benefits of acid are neutralized, so sometimes doctors strongly recommend that their patients review their diet. Otherwise, health problems cannot be avoided.
- Why does a person need homocysteine?
- The rate of homocysteine in the blood
- Pregnancy planning and homocysteine
- Increasing and decreasing the level of homocysteine in the blood
- Homocystinuria - what is it?
Why does a person need homocysteine?
The normal level of homocysteine in the blood varies in the range of 10-11 μmol / L. Sex differences in this case do not matter. In children, the norm of homocysteine is 6 μmol / L. For girls entering puberty, this indicator is equated to 6 μmol / L, and for boys to 7 μmol / L.
About 80% of all homocysteine in human blood is present in conjunction with albumin and other white fractions. With acquired diseases that provoke a deficiency of vitamins and enzymes, the production of homocysteine in the body will be disrupted. As a result, the amino acid will begin to accumulate in tissue cells, in the intercellular fluid, in the blood.
If the level of homocysteine exceeds the maximum permissible norms, then the body begins to suffer from a cytostatic effect. Tissue cells are destroyed, vascular walls suffer, becoming loose. In those places where there is damage, harmful cholesterol and calcium salts begin to accumulate, which lead to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. Also, an increase in the level of homocysteine in the blood entails the risk of developing thrombosis. Therefore, an analysis to determine the quantitative content of this amino acid is prescribed to patients who have risks of developing cardiovascular pathologies.
As a rule, during the dispensary observation of a patient, the doctor does not ask to donate his blood for homocysteine. However, this test is always performed during pregnancy.
If the level of an amino acid in the blood is increased in a woman expecting a child, then this can provoke a miscarriage, premature birth, preeclampsia and eclampsia, anomalies of intrauterine development of the fetus against the background of hypoxia.
Video: Homocysteine Specialist:
The rate of homocysteine in the blood
From childhood, homocysteine levels in the blood begin to rise gradually. Then, during pregnancy, its level should decrease slightly, which is a physiological norm. The least amount of homocysteine will be in the blood of children (regardless of their gender). The difference will be noticeable only at the time when the child reaches puberty. Boys during puberty will have more homocysteine in their bodies than girls. This situation is observed until the man begins to develop muscle muscles.
Blood homocysteine levels
Boys and girls before puberty
Adolescents in puberty
5.0 μmol / L
women in position
7.0 μmol / L
6.0 μmol / L
6.2-15.0 μmol / l
5.0-12.0 μmol / L
4.0-12 μmol / l
Depending on how long the pregnant woman is, the level of homocysteine in the blood will change:
- 4-12 μmol / L - the first trimester of pregnancy.
- 5.7-12.4 μmol / l - the second trimester of pregnancy.
- 6-12 μmol / L is the third trimester of pregnancy.
If a woman previously had miscarriages or had dead children, then they should be under special control by a doctor. Their homocysteine levels are measured regularly.
Hyperhomocysteinemia is a condition characterized by an increase in the level of homocysteine in the blood. During the period of gestation, it poses a particular danger, along with antiphospholipid syndrome. A significant excess of the level of this amino acid entails increased platelet aggregation, which is fraught with the development of thrombosis and other pathologies of pregnancy. With antiphospholipid syndrome, the level of antiphospholipid antibodies in the blood increases, and with hyperhomocysteinemia, the level of homocysteine. Otherwise, these two diseases are similar.
Pregnancy planning and homocysteine
If a young family takes a responsible approach to planning pregnancy, then an analysis to determine the level of homocysteine will be included in the mandatory list of examinations for the expectant mother.
If deviations from the norm are observed, the doctor will have to prescribe additional examinations to the woman:
- Check her blood levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone and plasma creatinine. You should also determine the concentration in the blood of vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and folic acid. It is imperative to clarify the nature of a woman's diet. It is possible that she gets an excess of methionine with food.
You should find out if the woman is consuming coffee. Bad habits such as smoking and alcoholism can change the concentration of homocysteine.
- Sometimes insufficient physical activity can lead to a disruption in the production of this amino acid in the body. In this regard, the expectant mother should also receive recommendations.
If a woman is in a very recent position, then the level of homocysteine in her blood will be lowered. This condition is a variant of the norm and does not require any therapeutic measures. Experts point out that a decrease in the level of amino acids is a signal that everything in the body goes on as usual, and no abnormalities occur with the placental circulation. A too low level of homocysteine in the blood of a pregnant woman may worsen her well-being somewhat, but this happens rarely.
Video: about homocysteine and pregnancy:
Increasing and decreasing the level of homocysteine in the blood
An increase in homocysteine is associated with the risk of developing various diseases, therefore, an analysis can be prescribed in the following cases:
- Diabetes. In this disease, high levels of homocysteine can trigger retinopathy or nephropathy.
- Alzheimer's disease, in which high levels of homocysteine cause memory loss beyond recovery.
- Homocystinuria. This disease is hereditary. In humans, a number of abnormal enzymes are produced in the body, so the exchange of homocysteine in the blood is disrupted.
- Serious dietary errors that can lead to an increase in the level of homocysteine in the body. The analysis is prescribed for people who consume a large number of meat dishes, or products containing phtolates and B vitamins.
- Acute psoriasis.
- Serious kidney problems.
- Hyperproliferative processes.
- Treatment with drugs such as: Penicillamine, Cyclosporine (suppress immunity), Phenytoin, Carbamazepine (drugs for the treatment of epilepsy), Methotrexate (suppresses the production of folic acid).
- People who suffer from alcoholism, smokers, coffee lovers, as well as patients who lead a sedentary lifestyle.
A decrease in blood homocysteine levels is extremely rare. This can happen in the presence of multiple sclerosis. To confirm the diagnosis, the patient is prescribed a number of additional examinations, which are of greater diagnostic value.
Homocystinuria - what is it?
Homocystinuria is an inherited disorder that is rare. It is characterized by a deficiency in the body of synthese. This enzyme takes part in metabolic processes.
With homocystinuria, the internal organs of a sick person will be affected, which contributes to the occurrence of the following symptoms:
- Mental retardation, lethargy.
- Epileptic seizures.
- Disorders in the formation of the skeleton. A person suffers from scoliosis, is very tall, etc.
- Blood clots form in the patient's vessels.
- Blood pressure rises significantly.
- The optic nerves atrophy, cataracts and glaucoma develop.
- The patient's cheeks always have a bright crimson color.
In addition to a blood test for homocysteine, patients are prescribed a urine test to determine the level of this amino acid. Normally, homocysteine should be absent in urine. If a person suffers from hereditary pathology, then traces of it in the urine will be found.
So, the analysis to determine the level of homocysteine in the blood is a significant diagnostic study. It is widely used in the obstetric branch of medicine, both at the stage of pregnancy planning and after its onset.
Elevated homocysteine levels are dangerous for both pregnant women and ordinary people. Its limiting concentrations contribute to the development of cardiovascular pathologies.
A blood test is taken in the morning on an empty stomach. If homocysteine is detected in urine, then it should be tested as soon as possible. The amino acid is not retained in urine for a long time. It is oxidized and transformed into homocysteine disulfide, which cannot be detected.
The author of the article: Shutov Maxim Evgenievich | Hematologist
Education: In 2013 he graduated from the Kursk State Medical University and received a diploma "General Medicine". After 2 years, completed residency in the specialty "Oncology". In 2016 completed postgraduate studies at the National Medical and Surgical Center named after N. I. Pirogov.