What is Homocysteine (HCY)?
Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase is an enzyme that is encoded by the gene MTHFR. The MTHFR gene product plays an important role in the conversion of 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate to 5-methyltetrahydrofolate. This conversion reaction, which requires adequate intake of vitamin B12 and folate, is required for the multistep process that converts the amino acid homocysteine back to another amino acid, methionine.
Homocysteine is an amino acid and breakdown product of protein metabolism. Homocysteine is also produced in the body from another amino acid, methionine. One of the methionine’s main functions is to provide methyl groups for cellular reactions. Methionine is an essential amino acid that is found in meat and fish, for example. it plays a very important role in making sure that genes work properly. It does this by donating methyl groups that can be attached to cytosine residues, one of the building blocks of DNA. Attachment of methyl groups to DNA determines whether a gene is going to be expressed properly or not. When a methyl group is donated by methionine, it is eventually converted to the amino acid homocysteine. The reactions orchestrated by MTHFR described above re-methylate homocysteine and convert it back to methionine so that it can be used again to support the function of the genetic blueprint.
Homocysteine A Nasty Substance:
Decreased activity of MTHFR leads to inefficient conversion of homocysteine to methionine. Thus, suboptimal gene function of the gene MTHFR results in an increased level of homocysteine in the body.
The excess level of HCY inflicts damage to the inner arterial lining (endothelium) and other cells of the body. Elevated HCY level in the body causes inflammatory responses and cause inflammatory diseases like cardiovascular disease, arthritis, etc. High levels may also act on blood platelets and increase the risks of clot formation. Formation of plaque in the system is also due to the access of HCY in the system. In addition, some evidence suggests that people with elevated homocysteine levels have twice the normal risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
In simple terms, a methyl group is a chemical fragment consisting of one carbon and three hydrogen atoms. When methionine donates a methyl group for a cellular reaction, it becomes homocysteine. Typically, homocysteine then receives another methyl group from either folic acid or vitamin B12 to regenerate methionine.
Homocysteine Elimination Options:
From the above discussion, one can easily infer homocysteine is a nasty substance which needs to be eliminated through a natural elimination cycle as described above.
In the case of Autistic children, their body has a higher level of HCY than their healthy counterparts . In conventional medicine, there is no drug which can eliminate the HCY level.
The Good news is in the realms of alternative healthcare. There are natural supplements and remedies which can help to overcome the excess level of homocysteine in the system. For example, a proper dose of Folic acid along with vitamins B12 may help in the elimination process of the excess of homocysteine , or by targeting and optimize the function of the MTHFR gene.
Contact your complimentary healthcare provider for more information.