L-folic acid supplementation in healthy postmenopausal women: effect on homocysteine and glycolipid metabolism

Paola Villa, Antonio Lanzone, Concetta Perri, Rosanna Suriano, Simona Panunzi, Francesco Cucinelli, Micaela Ranieri, Cristina Mele

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33 Citations (Scopus)


CONTEXT: Hyperhomocysteinemia as well as alterations of glycemic and lipidic metabolism are recognized as risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to examine the effect of L-folic acid supplementation on homocysteine (Hcy) and related thiols, such as cysteine (Cys) and Cys-glycine (Cys-Glyc) pathways and their relationship to glucose, insulin, and lipidic metabolism in normoinsulinemic postmenopausal women. DESIGN: This study was a randomized placebo, not double-blind, trial. SETTING: The study was performed in an academic research center. PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS: Twenty healthy postmenopausal women were selected. No patient was taking drugs known to affect lipid or glucose metabolism. INTERVENTION(S): Patients underwent two hospitalizations before and after 8 wk of L-acid folic (7.5 mg/d) or placebo administration. The glycemic metabolism was studied by an oral glucose tolerance test and a hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp. Hcy metabolism was studied by a standardized oral methionine-loading test. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Hcy, Cys, and Cys-Glyc, basally and after a methionine loading test, were measured. Basal insulin, glucose, and peptide C levels as well as area under the curve for insulin, area under the curve for peptide, hepatic insulin extraction, and metabolic index were assayed. The total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels and the cholesterol/HDL and LDL/HDL ratios were also measured. RESULTS: The total basal Hcy concentration and the plasma postmethionine loading Hcy values were significantly decreased (P < 0.01) in L-folic acid-treated patients, whereas postmethionine loading Cys-Glyc levels were markedly increased (P < 0.02). Furthermore, L-folic acid intake induced a significant improvement in carbohydrate metabolism through an increase in fractional hepatic insulin extraction (P < 0.05) and peripheral insulin sensitivity (P < 0.02) in normoinsulinemic women. HDL levels considerably increased, inducing an improvement in other atherosclerotic indexes, such as cholesterol/HDL and LDL/HDL ratios (P < 0.03). CONCLUSIONS: These results show that folic acid supplementation lowers plasma Hcy levels and improves insulin and lipid metabolism, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4622-4629
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • L-folic acid
  • metabolism


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