Effect of regular exercise on homocysteine concentrations: The HERITAGE Family Study

Tomohiro Okura, Tuomo Rankinen, Jacques Gagnon, Suzanne Lussier-Cacan, Jean Davignon, Arthur S. Leon, D. C. Rao, James S. Skinner, Jack H. Wilmore, Claude Bouchard

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32 Scopus citations


We investigated whether regular aerobic exercise could affect plasma total homocysteine (tHcy), and whether there were sex-related or racial differences in tHcy changes. Data were available for 816 black and white men and women, aged 17-65 years, 711 of whom completed a 20 week aerobic exercise training program. The tHcy concentration was measured in frozen plasma samples by an HPLC method. In Blacks, tHcy did not change with exercise training [men -0.5 (SD 3.7) μmol/l, women 0.0 (2.2) μmol/ l) but increased significantly in Whites (men +0.3 (1.7) μmol/l, women +0.2 (1.6) μmol/l). No sex-related differences were found in either racial group. Changes in tHcy correlated negatively with baseline homocysteine (r = -0.40, P < 0.0001). Homocysteine levels of the "High" (hyperhomocysteinemia) (≥15 μmol/l) group (n = 30) decreased significantly with regular aerobic exercise from 23.1 (12.1) to 19.6 (7.6) μmol/l. Homocysteine levels of the "Normal" group increased slightly from 8.2 ± 2.2 to 8.5 ± 2.4 μmol/l. Men exhibit racial differences for tHcy responses to exercise training. Regular aerobic exercise has favorable effects on individuals with hyperhomocysteinemia, but tHcy slightly increased in individuals within the normal range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-401
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments The HERITAGE Family Study is supported by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Grants HL-45670 (to C. Bouchard), HL-47323 (to A. S. Leon), HL-47317 (to D. C. Rao), and HL-47327 (to J. S. Skinner), and HL-47321 (to J. H. Wilmore). A. S. Leon is partially supported by the Henry L. Taylor endowed Professorship in Exercise Science and Health Enhancement, and C. Bouchard is partially supported by the George A. Bray Chair in Nutrition.


  • Aerobic exercise training
  • Homocysteine
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia
  • Racial differences
  • Sex

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