Background: Although homocysteine (Hcy) and white matter hyperintensities (WMH) have been proven to be correlated with increased risks of ischemic stroke, there have been few studies addressing the association between serum Hcy and WMH in a population with asymptomatic intracranial arterial stenosis (aICAS). Thus, the aim of the present study is to describe the association between Hcy and WMH in rural-dwelling Chinese people with aICAS.
Methods: In this study, 150 participants diagnosed as aICAS by magnetic resonance angiography were recruited from the Kongcun Town Study, which was a population-based study aimed to investigate the prevalence of aICAS in general population aged 40 to 90 years old, free of ischemic stroke history, and living in the Kongcun town, Pingyin county, Shandong, China. Data on demographics, risk factors, and serum Hcy levels were collected via interview, clinical examination, and laboratory tests. The WMH volumes were calculated through the lesion segmentation tool system for the Statistical Parametric Mapping package based on magnetic resonance imaging. The association between Hcy and WMH volume was analyzed using both linear and logistic regression analysis.
Results: After adjusting for all confounders, high Hcy (HHcy) (serum Hcy ≥15umol/L) was significantly associated with severe WMH (the highest quartile in WMH volume) (OR: 2.972, 95%CI: 1.017-7.979, P <0.05). However, with changing of WMH volumes, only trends towards association with HHcy were observed in all 3 models (P values only slightly exceeded 0.05). After being stratified by age, sex, or ever smoking, the association between HHcy and WMH became more significant in participants who were ≥60 years old, male, or ever smoker.
Conclusions: HHcy is associated with severe WMH in rural-dwelling Chinese people with aICAS, especially in participants ≥60 years old, male participants, or ever smokers, indicating these may be risk factors that contribute to the association between HHcy and severe WMH.