Elevated Cysteine Levels May Be Important Indicator for Future Heart Disease

In a study of more than 1,200 people undergoing cardiac imaging at Emory because of suspected heart disease, people with high levels of cysteine in the blood were twice as likely to have a heart attack or die over the next few years.

Cysteine could be a valuable marker of cardiovascular risk, but it also has a direct harmful effect on cells, so reducing it may be a valuable treatment strategy, according to researchers.

Cysteine is itself a short-lived precursor to glutathione, one of the main antioxidants found inside cells. We need to have a continuous supply of cysteine, but it is too reactive for us to have very much at any one time.

Smoking and alcohol consumption are also linked with higher levels of oxidized cysteine.

Editor’s Notes: Current research is showing other indicators to be much more accurate in predicting future heart disease than cholesterol levels including C-Reactive Protein levels, Homocysteine levels and possibly now oxidized cysteine levels.

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