Introduction: Homocysteine is a sulfur-containing amino acid formed in the intermediary metabolism of methionine. Amino acid metabolism and heme biosynthesis pathways are complexly intertwined. Plasma homocysteine elevation, hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy), has been reported in patients with acute hepatic porphyria (AHP), a family of rare genetic disorders caused by defects in hepatic heme biosynthesis. Areas covered: This article summarizes published case series in which givosiran, a subcutaneously administered small interfering RNA approved for AHP treatment, appeared to exacerbate dysregulated homocysteine metabolism in patients with AHP. A comprehensive exploratory analysis of ENVISION trial data demonstrated that on a population level, givosiran increased homocysteine but with wide interpatient variations, and there is no proof of correlations between HHcy and changes in efficacy or safety of givosiran. Expert opinion: The strong correlation and co-increase of homocysteine and methionine suggest that HHcy associated with givosiran is likely attributable to the impaired trans-sulfuration pathway catalyzed by cystathionine β-synthase, which uses vitamin B6 as a cofactor. Data-based consensus supports monitoring total plasma homocysteine and vitamin B6, B12, and folate levels before and during givosiran treatment; supplementing with pyridoxine/vitamin B6 in patients with homocysteine levels >100 μmol/L; and involving patients with homocysteine levels >30 μmol/L in decisions to supplement.
- Acute hepatic porphyria (AHP)
- acute intermittent porphyria (AIP)
- small interfering RNA