Cardiovascular disease (CVD) susceptibility differs between men and women and varies with ethnicity. This variability is not entirely explained by conventional CVD risk factors. We examined differences in circulating levels of 47 novel protein markers of CVD in 2561 men and women of African-American (AA) and non-Hispanic White (NHW) ethnicity, enrolled at geographically distinct sites.
Participants (1,324 AAs, mean age 63.5 y, 71% women; 1,237 NHWs, mean age 58.9 y, 57% women) belonged to sibships ascertained on the basis of hypertension. Solid-phase immunoassays and immunoturbidometric, clot-based, chromogenic, and electrophoretic assays were used to measure the 47 protein markers in plasma or serum. Marker levels were log transformed and outliers were adjusted to within 4 SD. To identify markers independently associated with sex or ethnicity, we employed multivariable regression analyses that adjusted for conventional risk factors, prior history of CVD, medication use and lifestyle factors (physical activity, alcohol consumption and education). Generalized estimating equations were used to correct for intrafamilial correlations. After adjustment for the above covariates, female sex was associated with higher levels of 29 markers and lower levels of 6 markers. Female sex was independently associated with higher levels of several inflammatory markers as well as lipoproteins, adipokines, natriuretic peptides, vasoconstrictor peptides and markers of calcification and thrombosis. AA ethnicity was associated with higher levels of 19 markers and lower levels of 6 markers, including higher levels of several inflammatory makers, higher leptin and lower adiponectin levels, lower levels of vasodilator-natriuretic peptides, higher levels of vasoconstrictor-antidiuretic peptides and markers of calcification and thrombosis.
Plasma levels of several novel protein markers of CVD differ significantly in the context of sex and ethnicity. These results have implications for individualized CVD risk assessment.