Hyperhomocyst(e)inaemia is associated with endothelial dysfunction in animals and humans. Mechanisms responsible for endothelial dysfunction in hyperhomocyst(e)inaemia are poorly understood, but may involve impaired bioavailability of endothelium-derived nitric oxide (NO). We hypothesized that acute elevation of homocyst(e)ine by oral methionine loading may stimulate the formation of asymmetrical dimethylarginine (ADMA), an endogenous inhibitor of NO synthase, due to a transmethylation reaction during the formation of homocyst(e)ine from methionine. We studied nine healthy human subjects (five males, four females) aged 29±2 years. Flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD) in the brachial artery (endothelium-dependent) and vasodilation induced by nitroglycerine (endothelium-independent) were measured with high-resolution ultrasound before and 8 h after oral methionine (100 mg/kg in cranberry juice) or placebo (cranberry juice), on separate days and in random order. Plasma homocyst(e)ine and ADMA concentrations were measured by specific HPLC methods. After a methionine bolus, elevation of homocyst(e)ine (28.4±3.5 µmol/l) was associated with an increased plasma concentration of ADMA (2.03±0.18 µmol/l) and reduced FMD (1.54±0.92%). Placebo had no effect on these parameters. There was a significant inverse linear relationship between ADMA concentration and FMD (r =-0.49; P < 0.05), which was stronger than the relationship between the homocyst(e)ine concentration and FMD (r =-0.36; not significant). We conclude that acute elevation of the homocyst(e)ine concentration impairs vascular endothelial function by a mechanism in which an elevated concentration of ADMA may be involved. This finding may have importance for understanding the mechanism(s) leading to homocyst(e)ine-associated vascular disease, and its potential treatment.

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