n. a sulphur-containing amino acid that is an intermediate in the synthesis of cysteine. A deficiency in the enzyme cystathionine synthetase results in elevated levels in the blood of homocysteine and homocystine (an oxidized form of homocysteine), resulting in elevated urinary levels (see homocystinuria). It is becoming increasingly recognized that elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood are a risk factor for vascular disease independent of diabetes, hypertension, elevated levels of cholesterol in the blood, and smoking. Levels are also elevated in vitamin B12 deficiency.
Subjects: Medicine and Health.