Plasma homocysteine levels increase following stress in older but not younger men

Kuebler, Ulrike; Linnebank, Michael; Semmler, Alexander; Stoffel-Wagner, Birgit; La Marca, Roberto; Ehlert, Ulrike; Wirtz, Petra H. (2013). Plasma homocysteine levels increase following stress in older but not younger men. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38(8), pp. 1381-1387. Elsevier 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2012.12.003

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BACKGROUND: The incidence and prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) increases with age. Some evidence suggests that mental stress may increase plasma homocysteine (Hcy), an amino acid relating to CVD. However, none of these studies assessed age effects on Hcy stress reactivity, nor did they control for age. The objective of this study was (a) to investigate whether Hcy reactivity to psychosocial stress differs between younger and middle-aged to older men and (b) to study whether psychosocial stress induces Hcy increases independent of age. METHODS: Twenty eight younger (20-30 years) and 22 middle-aged to older (47-65 years) apparently healthy men underwent an acute standardized psychosocial stress task combining public speaking and mental arithmetic in front of an audience. Blood samples for Hcy measurements were obtained immediately before and after, as well as 10 and 20min after stress. Moreover, salivary cortisol was repeatedly measured to test the effectiveness of the stress task in triggering a neuroendocrine stress response. RESULTS: Hcy reactivity to stress differed between age groups (F(1.4, 60.7)=5.41, p=.014). While the older group displayed an increase in the Hcy response to stress (F(2.5, 39.8)=3.86, p=.022), Hcy levels in the younger group did not change (p=.27). Psychosocial stress per se did not change Hcy levels independent of age (p=.53). CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that psychosocial stress does not evoke an Hcy response per se, but only in interaction with age pointing to a mechanism by which mental stress may increase CVD risk in older individuals.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy

UniBE Contributor:

Wirtz, Petra Hedwig


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Claudia Zuccarella

Date Deposited:

23 Apr 2014 11:45

Last Modified:

04 Mar 2015 22:43

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