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1.  Coronary Artery Calcification Compared with Carotid Intima-Media Thickness in Prediction of Cardiovascular Disease Incidence: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Archives of internal medicine  2008;168(12):1333-1339.
Coronary artery calcium (CAC) and carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) are noninvasive measures of atherosclerosis that consensus panels have recommended as possible additions to risk factor assessment for predicting the probability of cardiovascular disease (CVD) occurrence.
To assess whether maximum carotid IMT or CAC (Agatston Score) is the better predictor of incident CVD.
Design, Setting, Patients
Prospective cohort study of 45–84 year-olds initially free of CVD (n = 6,698) in four ethnic groups, with standardized carotid IMT and CAC measures at baseline, in six field centers of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).
Main Outcome Measure(s)
Incident CVD events (coronary heart disease, stroke, and fatal CVD) over a maximum of 5.3 years of follow-up.
There were 222 CVD events during follow-up. CAC was associated more strongly than carotid IMT with risk of incident CVD. After adjustment for each other and traditional CVD risk factors, the hazard of CVD increased 2.1-fold (95% CI 1.8–2.5) for each standard deviation greater level of log-transformed CAC, versus 1.3-fold (95% CI 1.1–1.4) for each standard deviation greater maximum IMT. For coronary heart disease, the hazard ratios per standard deviation increment were 2.5-fold (95% CI 2.1–3.1) for CAC and 1.2-fold (95% CI 1.0–1.4) for IMT. An ROC analysis also suggested that CAC predicted incident CVD better than IMT did.
Although whether and how to clinically use bio-imaging tests of subclinical atherosclerosis remains a topic of debate, this study found that CAC predicts subsequent CVD events better than does carotid IMT.
PMCID: PMC2555989  PMID: 18574091
2.  Metabolic Syndrome and Subclinical Atherosclerosis in Patients Infected with HIV 
The present study examines the association between carotid and coronary atherosclerosis and metabolic syndrome in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected adults.
We measured the common and internal carotid intima-media thickness (c-IMT) using B-mode ultrasonography, and we measured coronary artery calcium (CAC) using high-resolution, electrocardiographic, synchronized, computed tomography, for 314 HIV-infected men and women. Metabolic syndrome was defined by National Cholesterol Education Program/Adult Treatment Panel III criteria. We compared the c-IMT measurements and CAC scores of patients with metabolic syndrome with the scores of those without metabolic syndrome using a Wilcoxon test for continuous variables and a χ2 test for categorical variables. To examine the association between surrogate markers and metabolic syndrome, we used logistic regression analysis.
Participants with metabolic syndrome were more likely to have a common c-IMT measurement >0.8 mm than were those without metabolic syndrome (17% vs.7%; P=.009), but both groups were equally likely to have an internal c-IMT measurement >1.0 mm (20% vs. 13%; P=.15). Any positive CAC score was more likely to occur for participants with metabolic syndrome (80.3% vs. 46.7%; P < .0001). In a multivariate model adjusted for sex, age, ethnicity, and smoking status, participants with metabolic syndrome were more likely than those without metabolic syndrome to have an abnormal common c-IMT measurement (odds ratio [OR], 2.9; P= .020) and detectable CAC scores (OR, 4.9; P < .0001) but not a higher internal c-IMT measurement (OR, 1.6; P=.255).
Our study demonstrates that HIV-infected individuals with metabolic syndrome may be at increased risk for subclinical atherosclerosis and supports screening for metabolic syndrome among HIV-infected patients at risk for cardiovascular disease.
PMCID: PMC2745593  PMID: 17443477
3.  Associations of SNPs in ADIPOQ and subclinical cardiovascular disease in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2010;19(4):840-847.
Circulating adiponectin has been associated with both clinical and subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD). Variants of the adiponectin gene (ADIPOQ) are associated with clinical CVD, but little is known about associations with subclinical CVD. We studied the association of 11 ADIPOQ SNPs with common and internal carotid intima media thickness (cIMT), presence of coronary artery calcification (CAC), and CAC scores (in those with CAC) in 2847 participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Participants were Caucasian (n=712), African-American (n=712), Chinese (n=718), and Hispanic (n=705). All models were adjusted for age, sex, and field site, and stratified by race/ethnic group. African-Americans with genotypes AG/GG of rs2241767 had 36% greater (95% CI (16%, 59%), p=0.0001) CAC prevalence; they also had a larger common cIMT (p=0.0043). Also in African-Americans, genotypes AG/AA of rs1063537 were associated with a 35% (95% CI (14%, 59%), p=0.0005) greater CAC prevalence. Hispanics with the AA genotype of rs11711353 had a 37% (95% CI (14%, 66%), p=0.0011), greater CAC prevalence compared to those with the GG genotype. Additional adjustment for ancestry in African-American and Hispanic participants did not change the results. No single SNP was associated with subclinical CVD phenotypes in Chinese or Caucasian participants. There appears to be an association between ADIPOQ SNPs and subclinical CVD in African-American and Hispanics. Replication as well as assessment of other ADIPOQ SNPs appears warranted.
PMCID: PMC3510267  PMID: 20930713
4.  Association between Obesity, hsCRP ≥2 mg/L, and Subclinical Atherosclerosis: Implications of JUPITER from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) levels are closely associated with abdominal obesity, metabolic syndrome, and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. The JUPITER trial has encouraged using hsCRP ≥2 mg/L to guide statin therapy; however the association of hsCRP to atherosclerosis, independent of obesity, remains unknown.
Methods and Results
We studied 6,760 participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Participants were stratified into 4 groups: non-obese/low hsCRP, non-obese/high hsCRP, obese/low hsCRP, and obese/high hsCRP. Using multivariable logistic and robust linear regression, we described the association with subclinical atherosclerosis, using coronary artery calcium (CAC) and carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT). Mean BMI was 28.3 ± 5.5 kg/m2, and median hsCRP was 1.9 mg/L (0.84 – 4.26). High hsCRP, in the absence of obesity, was not associated with CAC and was mildly associated with cIMT. Obesity was strongly associated with CAC and cIMT independent of hsCRP. When obesity and high hsCRP were both present, there was no evidence of multiplicative interaction. Similar associations were seen among 2,083 JUPITER-eligible individuals.
High hsCRP, as defined by JUPITER, was not associated with CAC and was mildly associated with cIMT in the absence of obesity. In contrast, obesity was associated with both measures of subclinical atherosclerosis independent of hsCRP status.
PMCID: PMC3130297  PMID: 21474823
obesity; hsCRP; high sensitivity C-reactive protein; subclinical atherosclerosis; coronary artery calcium; carotid intima-media thickness
Circulation  2009;119(3):382-389.
We hypothesized that individuals with low 10-year but high lifetime cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk would have a greater burden of subclinical atherosclerosis than those with low 10-year but low lifetime risk.
Methods and Results
We included 2988 individuals age ≤50 at exam year 15 from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study and 1076 individuals age ≤50 at study entry from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). The 10-year risk and lifetime risk for CVD were estimated for each participant, permitting stratification into three groups: low 10-year (<10%)/low lifetime (<39%) risk, low 10-year (<10%)/high lifetime risk (≥39%), and high 10-year risk (≥10%) or diagnosed diabetes. Baseline levels and change in levels of subclinical atherosclerosis (coronary artery calcium [CAC] or carotid intima-media thickness [IMT]) were compared across risk strata. Among participants with low 10-year risk (91% of all participants) in CARDIA, those with a high lifetime risk compared to low lifetime risk had significantly greater common (0.83 vs 0.80 mm in men; 0.79 vs 0.75 mm in women) and internal (0.85 vs 0.80 mm; 0.80 vs 0.76 mm) carotid IMT, higher CAC prevalence (16.6 vs 9.8%; 7.1 vs 2.3%), and significantly greater incidence of CAC progression (22.3 vs 15.4%; 8.7 vs 5.3%). Similar results were observed in MESA.
Individuals with low 10-year but high lifetime risk have a greater subclinical disease burden and greater incidence of atherosclerotic progression compared to individuals with low 10-year and low lifetime risk, even at younger ages.
PMCID: PMC2836265  PMID: 19139385
epidemiology; risk estimation; prevention
6.  Tissue factor pathway inhibitor, vascular risk factors and subclinical atherosclerosis: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Atherosclerosis  2009;207(1):277-283.
Tissue factor pathway inhibitor (TFPI) is an endothelial membrane-associated anticoagulant protein. Higher circulating levels might reflect endothelial damage.
We hypothesized an association of higher total TFPI with subclinical atherosclerosis.
Total TFPI was measured in 1000 participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, a cohort of 6814 men and women without clinical vascular disease, aged 45–84, from 4 ethnic groups. Subclinical atherosclerosis measures were coronary artery calcium (CAC), carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and ankle-brachial index (ABI).
TFPI was higher with age, male gender, higher LDL-cholesterol, smoking and diabetes, but not ethnicity. Adjusting for risk factors, TFPI in the 4th versus 1st quartile was associated with a 1.2-fold increased risk of detectable CAC (95% CI 1.0–1.4), a 2.1-fold increased risk of CAC >400 Agatston units (95% CI 1.1–4.0) and a 1.6-fold (95% CI 1.1–2.5) increased risk of internal carotid IMT above the 80th percentile, but not with external carotid IMT or low ABI. Findings were consistent across ethnic groups.
In this diverse population, higher total TFPI was associated with prevalent CAC (limited to levels >400 units), and elevated internal carotid IMT, independent of other factors. Higher TFPI may indicate endothelial dysfunction. Further study is needed of TFPI and progression of atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC2784263  PMID: 19467658
atherosclerosis; coronary heart disease; tissue factor pathway inhibitor; risk factor
7.  Electrocardiogram Abnormalities and Coronary Calcification in Postmenopausal Women 
An electrocardiogram (ECG) can provide information on subclinical myocardial damage. The presence, and more importantly, the quantity of coronary artery calcification (CAC), relates well with the overall severity of the atherosclerotic process. A strong relation has been demonstrated between coronary calcium burden and the incidence of myocardial infarction, a relation independent of age. The aim of this study was to assess the relation of left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) and ECG abnormalities with CAC.
The study population comprised 566 postmenopausal women selected from a population-based cohort study. Information on LVH and repolarization abnormalities (T-axis and QRS-T angle) was obtained using electrocardiography. Modular ECG Analysis System (MEANS) was used to assess ECG abnormalities. The women underwent a multi detector-row computed tomography (MDCT) scan (Philips Mx 8000 IDT 16) to assess CAC. The Agatston score was used to quantify CAC; scores greater than zero were considered as the presence of coronary calcium. Logistic regression was used to assess the relation of ECG abnormality with coronary calcification.
LVH was found in 2.7% (n = 15) of the women. The prevalence of T-axis abnormality was 6% (n = 34), whereas 8.5% (n = 48) had a QRS-T angle abnormality. CAC was found in 62% of the women. Compared to women with a normal T-axis, women with borderline or abnormal T-axes were 3.8 fold more likely to have CAC (95% CI: 1.4–10.2). Similarly, compared to women with a normal QRS-T angle, in women with borderline or abnormal QRS-T angle, CAC was 2.0 fold more likely to be present (95% CI: 1.0–4.1).
Among women with ECG abnormalities reflecting subclinical ischemia, CAC is commonly found and may in part explain the increased coronary heart disease risk associated with these ECG abnormalities.
PMCID: PMC3466840  PMID: 23074563
Atherosclerosis; Hypertrophy, left ventricular; Myocardial ischemia; Women; Postmenopause
8.  Predictors of progression in atherosclerosis over 2 years in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2011;50(11):2071-2079.
Objectives. Cardiovascular disease remains the major cause of death in SLE. We assessed the degree to which cardiovascular risk factors (CVRFs) and disease activity were associated with 2-year changes in measures of subclinical atherosclerosis.
Methods. One hundred and eighty-seven SLE patients participating in a placebo-controlled trial of atorvastatin underwent multi-detector CT [for coronary artery calcium (CAC)] and carotid duplex [for carotid intima–media thickness (IMT) and carotid plaque] twice, 2 years apart. During the 2 years, patients were assessed every 3 months for CVRF. Both groups were combined for analysis, as atorvastatin did not differ from placebo in preventing progression of coronary calcium. We examined the correlation between these clinical measures and progression of CAC, IMT and plaque during the follow-up period.
Results. In an analysis adjusting for age, gender and ethnicity, CAC progression was positively associated with total serum cholesterol measured over the 2-year period (P = 0.04) and smoking (P = 0.003). Carotid IMT progression was associated with systolic BP (P = 0.003), high-sensitivity CRP (hsCRP) (P = 0.013) and white blood cell (WBC) count (P = 0.029). Carotid plaque progression, defined as patients without carotid plaque at baseline with subsequent development of plaque at follow-up, was associated with systolic BP (P = 0.003), WBC count (P = 0.02), physician's global assessment (P = 0.05), blood lymphocyte count (P = 0.048), urine protein (P = 0.017) and duration of SLE (P = 0.019).
Conclusion. Our data did not provide evidence of an association between measures of SLE disease activity (SLEDAI, anti-dsDNA, anti-phospholipid and treatment) and progression of subclinical atherosclerosis. Age and hypertension were associated with the progression of carotid IMT and plaque. Age, smoking and cholesterol were associated with progression of CAC.
PMCID: PMC3247795  PMID: 21875880
Systemic lupus erythematosus; Helical computed tomography; Coronary artery calcium; Carotid intima–media thickness; Carotid plaque; Inflammation; Atherosclerosis; Carotid duplex; Coronary artery disease; Statins
9.  Mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) does not slow the progression of subclinical atherosclerosis in SLE over 2 years 
Rheumatology international  2011;32(9):2701-2705.
Accelerated atherosclerosis is a major cause of mortality in SLE. Mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) has been shown to suppress growth factor-induced proliferation of vascular smooth muscle and endothelial cells in animal models. We hypothesized that MMF might modify the inflammatory component of atherosclerosis in SLE. We examined the effect of MMF on atherosclerosis as measured by changes in carotid intima–media thickness (IMT) or coronary artery calcium (CAC) over 2 years. CAC and carotid IMT were measured at baseline and 2 years later in a cohort of 187 patients with SLE. The cohort was 91% women, 59% Caucasian, and 35% African-American, with a mean age of 45 ± 11 years. Of these, 12.5% (n = 25) received MMF during follow-up. The daily dose ranged from 500 to 3,000 mg/day, and duration ranged from 84 days to the entire 2 years. We divided MMF users into three groups: low exposure (<1,500 mg average daily dose), high exposure (≥1,500 average daily dose), and any exposure of MMF (<1,500 or ≥1,500 average daily dose) for 2 years. The mean CAC increased in all four groups: no MMF: 1.17–1.28, low MMF: 1.02–1.13, high MMF: 1.44–1.61, and any MMF: 1.21–1.34 log-Agatston units. Compared to no MMF, there was no statistically different change between the three groups (p = 0.99, 0.87, and 0.91). Similarly, mean carotid IMT increased in all four groups: no MMF: 0.58–0.66, low MMF: 0.55–0.60, high MMF: 0.56–0.71, and any MMF: 0.56–0.66. We then adjusted for statin use, lupus nephritis, body mass index, systolic blood pressure, cholesterol, and age during the 2-year follow-up. The association between MMF exposure and change in CAC or carotid IMT was not statistically significant (p = 0.63 for CAC, and p = 0.085 for carotid IMT). There was no evidence that MMF slowed or decreased the progression of atherosclerosis as measured by carotid IMT or CAC. Because the number of patients taking MMF was only twenty-five, larger studies for longer time periods are needed to explore any effect of MMF on subclinical atherosclerosis in SLE.
PMCID: PMC3601823  PMID: 21792642
Systemic lupus erythematosus; Mycophenolate mofetil; Atherosclerosis
10.  Decreased Naive and Increased Memory CD4+ T Cells Are Associated with Subclinical Atherosclerosis: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71498.
Adaptive immunity has been implicated in atherosclerosis in animal models and small clinical studies. Whether chronic immune activation is associated with atherosclerosis in otherwise healthy individuals remains underexplored. We hypothesized that activation of adaptive immune responses, as reflected by higher proportions of circulating CD4+ memory cells and lower proportions of naive cells, would be associated with subclinical atherosclerosis.
Methods and Findings
We examined cross-sectional relationships of circulating CD4+ naive and memory T cells with biomarkers of inflammation, serologies, and subclinical atherosclerosis in 912 participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Circulating CD4+ naive cells were higher in women than men and decreased with age (all p-values <0.0001). European-Americans had higher levels of naive cells and lower levels of memory cells compared with African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans (all p-values ≤0.0005). Lower naive/higher memory cells were associated with interleukin-6 levels. In multivariate models, cytomegalovirus (CMV) and H. Pylori titers were strongly associated with higher memory and lower naive cells (all p-values <0.05). Higher memory cells were associated with coronary artery calcification (CAC) level in the overall population [β-Coefficient (95% confidence interval (CI))  = 0.20 (0.03, 0.37)]. Memory and naive (inversely) cells were associated with common carotid artery intimal media thickness (CC IMT) in European-Americans [memory: β =  0.02 (0.006, 0.04); naive: β = −0.02 (−0.004, −0.03)].
These results demonstrate that the degree of chronic adaptive immune activation is associated with both CAC and CC IMT in otherwise healthy individuals, consistent with the known role of CD4+ T cells, and with innate immunity (inflammation), in atherosclerosis. These data are also consistent with the hypothesis that immunosenescence accelerates chronic diseases by putting a greater burden on the innate immune system, and suggest the importance of prospective studies and research into strategies to modulate adaptive immune activation in chronic disease states such as atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC3751895  PMID: 24009662
11.  Associations between markers of subclinical atherosclerosis and dietary patterns derived by principal components analysis and reduced rank regression in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)1–3 
The association between diet and cardiovascular disease (CVD) may be mediated partly through inflammatory processes and reflected by markers of subclinical atherosclerosis.
We investigated whether empirically derived dietary patterns are associated with coronary artery calcium (CAC) and common and internal carotid artery intima media thickness (IMT) and whether prior information about inflammatory processes would increase the strength of the associations.
At baseline, dietary patterns were derived with the use of a food-frequency questionnaire, and inflammatory biomarkers, CAC, and IMT were measured in 5089 participants aged 45–84 y, who had no clinical CVD or diabetes, in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Dietary patterns based on variations in C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, homocysteine, and fibrinogen concentrations were created with reduced rank regression (RRR). Dietary patterns based on variations in food group intake were created with principal components analysis (PCA).
The primary RRR(RRR 1) and PCA(PCA factor 1) dietary patterns were high in total and saturated fat and low in fiber and micronutrients. However, the food sources of these nutrients differed between the dietary patterns. RRR 1 was positively associated with CAC [Agatston score >0: OR(95% CI) for quartile 5 compared with quartile 1 = 1.34 (1.05, 1.71); ln(Agatston score = 1): P for trend = 0.023] and with common carotid IMT [≥1.0 mm: OR (95% CI) for quartile 5 compared with quartile 1 = 1.33 (0.99, 1.79); ln(common carotid IMT): P for trend = 0.006]. PCA 1 was not associated with CAC or IMT.
The results suggest that subtle differences in dietary pattern composition, realized by incorporating measures of inflammatory processes, affect associations with markers of subclinical atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC2858465  PMID: 17556701
Dietary patterns; principal components analysis; reduced rank regression; carotid artery intima media thickness; coronary artery calcium
12.  Association of Scavenger Receptor Class B Type I Polymorphisms with Subclinical Atherosclerosis: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Little is known regarding the association of scavenger receptor class B type I (SCARB1) single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and subclinical atherosclerosis (SCA), particularly in subjects of different racial/ethnic backgrounds. We examined this relationship in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).
Methods and Results
Forty-three SCARB1 tagging SNPs were genotyped. Baseline examinations included fasting lipids and SCA phenotypes (coronary artery calcium [CAC], and common and internal carotid artery thickness [CCIMT and ICIMT]). Examining SNP associations with different SCA phenotypes across multiple racial/ethnic groups with adjustment for multiple covariates, we found the C allele of SNP rs10846744 was associated with higher CCIMT in African American (P=0.03), Chinese (P=0.02), European American (P=0.05), and Hispanic participants (P=0.03), and was strongly associated in pooled analyses (P=0.0002). The results also showed that the association of this SNP with CCIMT was independent of lipids and other well-established cardiovascular risk factors. Stratifying by sex, there appeared to be a strong association of rs10846744 with CCIMT in females, but no genotype-sex interactions were observed.
Variation in SCARB1 at rs10846744 was significantly associated with CCIMT across racial/ethnic groups in MESA.
PMCID: PMC3359098  PMID: 20160195
genetics; atherosclerosis; cholesterol; lipids; prospective cohort study; genetic association
13.  Is Diabetic Retinopathy Related to Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease? 
Ophthalmology  2010;118(5):860-865.
Persons with diabetic retinopathy (DR) have an increased risk of clinical cardiovascular events. Our study aimed to determine whether DR is associated with a range of measures of subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD) in persons without clinical CVD.
Population-based, cross-sectional epidemiologic study
Nine hundred and twenty seven persons with diabetes without clinical CVD in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.
DR was ascertained from retinal photographs according to modification of the Airlie House Classification system. Vision threatening DR (VTDR) was defined as severe non-proliferative DR, proliferative DR or clinically significant macular edema. Subclinical CVD measures were assessed and defined as follows: high coronary artery calcium (CAC) score, defined as CAC score≥400; low ankle-brachial index (ABI), defined as ABI<0.9; high ABI, defined as ABI≥1.4; high carotid intima-media thickness (IMT), defined as highest 25% of IMT; and carotid stenosis, defined as >25% stenosis or presence of carotid plaque.
Associations between DR and subclinical CVD measures.
The prevalence of DR and VTDR in this sample was 30.0% and 7.2%, respectively. VTDR was associated with a high CAC score (odds ratio [OR] 2.33, 95% condifence interval [CI] 1.15–4.73), low ABI (OR 2.54; 95%CI, 1.08–5.99) and high ABI (OR 12.6, 95% CI, 1.14, 140.6), after adjusting for risk factors including hemoglobin A1c level and duration of diabetes. The association between VTDR and high CAC score remained significant after further adjustment for hypoglycemic, anti-hypertensive and cholesterol-lowering medications. DR was not significantly associated with measures of carotid artery disease.
In persons with diabetes without a history of clinical CVD, the presence of advanced stage of DR is associated with subclinical coronary artery disease. These findings emphasize the need to be careful about the use of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor for the treatment of DR.
PMCID: PMC3087839  PMID: 21168222
14.  Electrocardiographic Abnormalities Associated with the Metabolic Syndrome and Its Components: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
The association between metabolic syndrome and electrocardiographic (ECG) abnormalities is not well established.
ECG tracings of 6,765 men and women aged 45–84 years, free of clinical cardiovascular disease, from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis were obtained (2000–2002) and classified as normal or having major or minor abnormalities. We evaluated the associations of metabolic syndrome and its components with ECG abnormalities, adjusting for age, ethnicity, and gender and testing for effect modification by ethnicity and gender.
The associations of metabolic syndrome, hypertension, and high triglycerides with ECG abnormalities varied significantly by gender. In males, metabolic syndrome and hypertension were significantly associated with major ECG abnormality [1.69 (1.33–2.13), and 2.22 (1.72–2.86), respectively] after adjusting for ethnicity and gender. Hypertension was also associated significantly with minor ECG abnormality in males after adjusting for age and ethnicity. In females, metabolic syndrome and hypertension were significantly associated with major [1.84 (1.44–2.37), and 1.68 (1.27–2.22), respectively] and minor [1.38 (1.19–1.59), and 1.53 (1.32–1.79), respectively] ECG abnormalities after adjusting for age and ethnicity. High triglycerides were only significantly associated with major ECG abnormality in females after adjusting for age and ethnicity. After adjusting for age, ethnicity, and gender, central obesity and high fasting blood glucose were significantly associated with major and minor ECG abnormalities, whereas low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol was significantly associated with major ECG abnormality only.
Metabolic syndrome and its components are associated with major and/or minor ECG abnormalities. The relationship of metabolic syndrome, hypertension, and high triglycerides with ECG abnormalities varied according to gender.
PMCID: PMC3339381  PMID: 22053762
15.  The Epidemiology of Subclavian Stenosis and its Association with Markers of Subclinical Atherosclerosis: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Atherosclerosis  2010;211(1):266-270.
Recent studies indicate that subclavian stenosis (SS), diagnosed by a large systolic blood pressure difference (SBPD) between the right and left brachial arteries, is associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and outcomes. We sought to describe the epidemiology of SS and determine its association with markers of subclinical CVD in the baseline cohort of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.
We defined SS by an absolute SBPD ≥15 mmHg. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) was defined by an ankle-brachial index ≤0.90. The coronary artery calcium score (CAC) and the common-carotid artery intima-media thickness (CCA-IMT) were measured by computed tomography and B-mode ultrasound, respectively. Odds ratios for the associations of SS with risk factors and subclinical disease were estimated using logistic regression.
Of 6,743 subjects studied, 307 participants (4.6%) had SS, with a higher prevalence in women (5.1%) than men (3.9%), and in African-Americans (7.4%) and non-Hispanic whites (5.1%) than Hispanic (1.9%) or Chinese (1.0%) participants (p<0.01). In a model including age, gender, ethnicity, traditional and novel CVD risk factors, significant associations with SS were observed for C-reactive protein (highest vs. three lower quartiles: OR=1.41; 95%CI: 1.06-1.87) and brachial artery pulse pressure (OR=1.12 /10 mmHg; 95%CI: 1.03-1.21). Adjusted for age, gender, ethnicity, traditional and novel CVD risk factors, SS was significantly associated with PAD (OR=2.35; 1.55-3.56), with CCA-IMT (highest vs. the lower three quartiles: OR=1.32; 1.00-1.75), and high CAC (score >100 vs. score=0; OR=1.43; 1.03-2.01).
The subclavian stenosis is positively associated with other markers of subclinical atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC2925848  PMID: 20138280
subclavian artery; blood pressure; atherosclerosis; epidemiology
16.  Signs of subclinical coronary atherosclerosis in relation to risk factor distribution in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) and the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study (HNR) 
European Heart Journal  2008;29(22):2782-2791.
Modern imaging technology allows us the visualization of coronary artery calcification (CAC), a marker of subclinical coronary atherosclerosis. The prevalence, quantity, and risk factors for CAC were compared between two studies with similar imaging protocols but different source populations: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) and the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study (HNR).
Methods and results
The measured CAC in 2220 MESA participants were compared with those in 3126 HNR participants with the inclusion criteria such as age 45–75 years, Caucasian race, and free of baseline cardiovascular disease. Despite similar mean levels of CAC of 244.6 among participants in MESA and of 240.3 in HNR (P = 0.91), the prevalence of CAC > 0 was lower in MESA (52.6%) compared with HNR (67.0%) with a prevalence rate ratio of CAC > 0 of 0.78 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.72–0.85] after adjustment for known risk factors. Consequently, among participants with CAC > 0, the participants in MESA tended to have higher levels of CAC than those in HNR (ratio of CAC levels: 1.39; 95% CI: 1.19–1.63), since many HNR participants have small (near zero) CAC values.
The CAC prevalence was lower in the United States (MESA) cohort than in the German (HNR) cohort, which may be explained by more favourable risk factor levels among the MESA participants. The predictors for increased levels of CAC were, however, similar in both cohorts with the exception that male gender, blood pressure, and body mass index were more strongly associated in the HNR cohort.
PMCID: PMC2582985  PMID: 18845666
Epidemiology; Atherosclerosis; Coronary artery calcium; Risk factors; Screening
17.  Genetic ancestry is associated with subclinical cardiovascular disease in African Americans and Hispanics from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Differences in cardiovascular disease (CVD) burden exist among racial/ethnic groups in the United States, with African Americans having the highest prevalence. Subclinical CVD measures have also been shown to differ by race/ethnicity. In the United States, there has been significant intermixing among racial/ethnic groups creating admixed populations. Very little research exists on the relationship of genetic ancestry and subclinical CVD measures.
Methods and Results
These associations were investigated in 712 African-American and 705 Hispanic participants from the MESA candidate gene sub-study. Individual ancestry was estimated from 199 genetic markers using STRUCTURE. Associations of ancestry and coronary artery calcium (CAC) and common and internal carotid intima media thickness (cIMT) were evaluated using log-binomial and linear regression models. Splines indicated linear associations of ancestry with subclinical CVD measures in African-Americans, but presence of threshold effects in Hispanics. Among African Americans, each standard deviation (SD) increase in European ancestry was associated with an 8% (95% CI (1.02, 1.15), p=0.01) greater CAC prevalence. Each SD increase in European ancestry was also associated with a 2% (95% CI (−3.4%, −0.5%), p=0.008) lower common cIMT in African Americans. Among Hispanics, the highest tertile of European ancestry was associated with a 34% greater CAC prevalence, p=0.02 as compared to lowest tertile.
The linear association of ancestry and subclinical CVD suggests that genetic effects may be important in determining CAC and cIMT among African-Americans. Our results also suggest that CAC and common cIMT may be important phenotypes for further study with admixture mapping.
PMCID: PMC2795643  PMID: 20031644
atherosclerosis; calcium; ancestry; epidemiology; genetics
18.  Retinal Microvascular Signs and Risk of Stroke: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Background and Purpose
Small vessel disease contributes to the pathophysiology of stroke, and retinal microvascular signs have been linked to risk of stroke. We examined the relationship of retinal signs with incident stroke in a multi-ethnic cohort.
The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) is a prospective cohort study that enrolled participants without clinical cardiovascular diseases from six United States communities between 2000–02. Of the participants, 4,849 (71.2%) had fundus photography performed in 2002–04. Retinopathy and retinal vessel caliber were assessed from retinal images. Stroke risk factors including high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) and coronary artery calcium (CAC) were measured using standardized protocols. Incident stroke was confirmed from medical record review and death certificates.
After 6 years of follow-up, there were 62 incident strokes. Narrower retinal arteriolar caliber was associated with increased risk of stroke after adjusting for conventional cardiovascular risk factors (adjusted incidence rate ratio [IRR] 2.83, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.34–5.95, p=0.006; adjusted hazard ratio [HR] 3.01, 95% CI 1.29–6.99, p=0.011). Retinopathy in persons without diabetes was associated with increased risk of stroke (adjusted IRR 2.96, 95% CI 1.50–5.84, p=0.002; adjusted HR 3.07, 95%CI 1.17–8.09, p=0.023). These associations remained significant after adjusting for hsCRP, carotid IMT or CAC.
Narrower retinal arteriolar caliber and retinopathy in non-diabetic persons were associated with increased risk of stroke in this relatively healthy multi-ethnic cohort independent of traditional risk factors and measures of atherosclerosis. The association between narrower retinal arteriolar caliber and stroke warrants further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3508325  PMID: 23111439
Stroke; Retinal microvascular signs; Retinopathy; Retinal vessel caliber
19.  The Association Between A1C and Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease 
Diabetes Care  2009;32(9):1727-1733.
To test the hypothesis that A1C is associated with subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD) in a population without evident diabetes, after adjusting for traditional CVD risk factors and BMI.
This was a cross-sectional study of 5,121 participants without clinically evident CVD or diabetes (fasting glucose ≥7.0 mmol/l or use of diabetes medication), aged 47–86 years, enrolled in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Measurements included carotid intimal-medial wall thickness (CIMT) and coronary artery calcification (CAC). Results were adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, smoking, systolic blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, antihypertensive medication use, lipid-lowering medication use, and BMI.
Compared with those in the lowest quartile for A1C ([mean ± SD] 5.0 ± 0.2%), participants in the highest quartile (6.0 ± 0.3%) had higher adjusted mean values for common CIMT (0.85 vs. 0.87 mm, P = 0.003) and internal CIMT (1.01 vs. 1.08 mm, P = 0.003). A1C quartile was not associated with prevalence of CAC in the entire cohort (P = 0.27); however, the association was statistically significant in women (adjusted prevalence of CAC in lowest and highest A1C quartiles 37.5 vs. 43.0%, P = 0.01). Among those with some CAC, higher A1C quartile tended to be associated with higher CAC score, but the results were not statistically significant (adjusted P = 0.11).
In this multiethnic cohort, there were small, positive associations between A1C, common CIMT, and internal CIMT in the absence of clinically evident diabetes. An association between higher A1C and CAC prevalence was evident only in women.
PMCID: PMC2732160  PMID: 19549732
20.  Activated TLR Signaling in Atherosclerosis among Women with Lower Framingham Risk Score: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21067.
Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Traditional risk factors can be used to identify individuals at high risk for developing CVD and are generally associated with the extent of atherosclerosis; however, substantial numbers of individuals at low or intermediate risk still develop atherosclerosis.
A case-control study was performed using microarray gene expression profiling of peripheral blood from 119 healthy women in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis cohort aged 50 or above. All participants had low (<10%) to intermediate (10% to 20%) predicted Framingham risk; cases (N = 48) had coronary artery calcium (CAC) score >100 and carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) >1.0 mm, whereas controls (N = 71) had CAC<10 and IMT <0.65 mm. We identified two major expression profiles significantly associated with significant atherosclerosis (odds ratio 4.85; P<0.001); among those with Framingham risk score <10%, the odds ratio was 5.30 (P<0.001). Ontology analysis of the gene signature reveals activation of a major innate immune pathway, toll-like receptors and IL-1R signaling, in individuals with significant atherosclerosis.
Gene expression profiles of peripheral blood may be a useful tool to identify individuals with significant burden of atherosclerosis, even among those with low predicted risk by clinical factors. Furthermore, our data suggest an intimate connection between atherosclerosis and the innate immune system and inflammation via TLR signaling in lower risk individuals.
PMCID: PMC3116882  PMID: 21698167
21.  A Functionally Significant Polymorphism in ID3 Is Associated with Human Coronary Pathology 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90222.
We previously identified association between the ID3 SNP rs11574 and carotid intima-media thickness in the Diabetes Heart Study, a predominantly White diabetic population. The nonsynonymous SNP rs11574 results in an amino acid substitution in the C-terminal region of ID3, attenuating the dominant negative function of ID3 as an inhibitor of basic HLH factor E12-mediated transcription. In the current investigation, we characterize the association between the functionally significant polymorphism in ID3, rs11574, with human coronary pathology.
Methods and Results
The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) is a longitudinal study of subclinical cardiovascular disease, including non-Hispanic White (n = 2,588), African American (n = 2,560) and Hispanic (n = 2,130) participants with data on coronary artery calcium (CAC). The Coronary Assessment in Virginia cohort (CAVA) included 71 patients aged 30–80 years, undergoing a medically necessary cardiac catheterization and intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) at the University of Virginia. ID3 SNP rs11574 risk allele was associated with the presence of CAC in MESA Whites (P = 0.017). In addition, the risk allele was associated with greater atheroma burden and stenosis in the CAVA cohort (P = 0.003, P = 0.04 respectively). The risk allele remained predictive of atheroma burden in multivariate analysis (Model 1: covariates age, gender, and LDL, regression coefficient = 9.578, SE = 3.657, p = 0.0110; Model 2: covariates Model 1, presence of hypertension, presence of diabetes, regression coefficient = 8.389, SE = 4.788, p = 0.0163).
We present additional cohorts that demonstrate association of ID3 SNP rs11574 directly with human coronary artery pathology as measured by CAC and IVUS: one a multiethnic, relatively healthy population with low levels of diabetes and the second a predominantly White population with a higher incidence of T2DM referred for cardiac catheterization.
PMCID: PMC3946163  PMID: 24603695
22.  Ten-Year Trends in Coronary Calcification in Individuals without Clinical Cardiovascular Disease in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94916.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) incidence has declined significantly in the US, as have levels of major coronary risk factors, including LDL-cholesterol, hypertension and smoking, but whether trends in subclinical atherosclerosis mirror these trends is not known.
Methods and Findings
To describe recent secular trends in subclinical atherosclerosis as measured by serial evaluations of coronary artery calcification (CAC) prevalence in a population over 10 years, we measured CAC using computed tomography (CT) and CHD risk factors in five serial cross-sectional samples of men and women from four race/ethnic groups, aged 55–84 and without clinical cardiovascular disease, who were members of Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) cohort from 2000 to 2012. Sample sizes ranged from 1062 to 4837. After adjusting for age, gender, and CT scanner, the prevalence of CAC increased across exams among African Americans, whose prevalence of CAC was 52.4% in 2000–02, 50.4% in 2003–04, 60.0% is 2005–06, 57.4% in 2007–08, and 61.3% in 2010–12 (p for trend <0.001). The trend was strongest among African Americans aged 55–64 [prevalence ratio for 2010–12 vs. 2000–02, 1.59 (95% confidence interval 1.06, 2.39); p = 0.005 for trend across exams]. There were no consistent trends in any other ethnic group. Risk factors generally improved in the cohort, and adjustment for risk factors did not change trends in CAC prevalence.
There was a significant secular trend towards increased prevalence of CAC over 10 years among African Americans and no change in three other ethnic groups. Trends did not reflect concurrent general improvement in risk factors. The trend towards a higher prevalence of CAC in African Americans suggests that CHD risk in this population is not improving relative to other groups.
PMCID: PMC3990562  PMID: 24743658
23.  Cholesteryl Ester Transfer Protein Genetic Polymorphisms, HDL Cholesterol, and Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Atherosclerosis  2008;200(2):359-367.
The cholesteryl ester transport protein (CETP) plays a key role in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) metabolism. Genetic variants that alter CETP activity and concentration may cause significant alterations in HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C) concentration; however, controversies remain about whether these genetic variants are associated with atherosclerosis. We genotyped the CETP R451Q, A373P, -629C/A, Taq1B, and -2505C/A polymorphisms in a cohort of Caucasian, Chinese, African-American, and Hispanic individuals within the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Genotypes were examined in relationship to HDL-C, CETP activity, CETP concentration, and three measures of subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD): coronary artery calcium (CAC) measured by fast CT scanning, and carotid intimal-medial thickness (IMT) and carotid artery plaque, measured by ultrasonography. Carriers of the 451Q and 373P alleles have significantly higher CETP concentration (22.4% and 19.5%, respectively; p<0.001) and activity (13.1% and 9.4%, respectively; p<0.01) and lower HDL-C (5.6% and 6.0%, respectively; p<0.05). The minor alleles of the R451Q and A373P polymorphisms are associated with the presence of CAC, even after adjusting for CVD risk factors and HDL-C (p=0.006 and p=0.01, respectively). The R451Q polymorphism is also associated with presence of carotid artery plaque (p=0.036). Neither polymorphism is associated with common or internal carotid IMT. We confirmed that the -629A, Taq1B B2, and -2505A alleles are significantly associated with lower CETP concentration (20.8%, 25.0%, and 23.7%, respectively; p<0.001) and activity (14.8%, 19.8%, and 18.4%, respectively; p<0.001) and higher HDL-C concentration (9.7%, 11.5%, and 10.4%, respectively; p<0.01). However, we did not find any associations between these non-coding polymorphisms and subclinical CVD.
PMCID: PMC3612981  PMID: 18243217
24.  Circulating soluble ICAM-1 and subclinical atherosclerosis: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study 
Clinical chemistry  2011;58(2):10.1373/clinchem.2011.168559.
Soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1) is associated with endothelial dysfunction and clinical cardiovascular disease. We investigated the relationship of subclinical atherosclerosis with sICAM-1 concentration.
sICAM-1 concentration was assayed at year 15 of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study (black and white men and women, average age 40 years). We assessed progression of coronary artery calcification through year 20 (CAC, n=2378), and both carotid artery stenosis (n=2432) and intima media thickness at year 20 (IMT, n = 2240).
Median sICAM-1 was 145.9 ng/ml. Among a subgroup with advanced atherosclerotic plaque (either CAC or stenosis), IMT was 0.010 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.003–0.017 mm) higher per standard deviation of sICAM-1 (44 ng/ml) in a model adjusted for age, race, sex, clinic, smoking, exercise, body size, education, blood pressure, antihypertensive medication, plasma lipids, and cholesterol lowering medication. With the same adjustment, the odds ratios (OR) for the presence of year 20 carotid artery stenosis per SD of sICAM-1 was 1.12 (CI 1.01–1.25, p<0.04), while for occurrence of CAC progression the OR was 1.16 (CI 1.04–1.31, p<0.01). The associations with CAC and carotid stenosis were strongest in the top 20th of the sICAM-1 distribution.
sICAM-1 concentration may be an early biomarker that indicates changes in the artery wall that accompany atherosclerosis, as well as the presence of advanced plaque in the coronary and carotid arteries. This finding holds in people with low total burden of atherosclerosis, decades prior to the development of clinical CVD.
PMCID: PMC3867124  PMID: 22179741
25.  Coronary Artery Calcification and Myocardial Perfusion in Asymptomatic Adults: The MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) 
This study assessed the cross-sectional association between coronary artery calcification (CAC) and myocardial perfusion in an asymptomatic population.
Clinical studies showed that the prevalence of stress-induced ischemia increased with CAC burden among patients with coronary heart disease (CHD). Whether an association between CAC and myocardial perfusion exists in subjects without a history of CHD remains largely unknown.
A total of 222 men and women, ages 45 to 84 years old and free of CHD diagnosis, in the Minnesota field center of the MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) were studied. Myocardial blood flow (MBF) was measured using magnetic resonance imaging during rest and adenosine-induced hyperemia. Perfusion reserve was calculated as the ratio of hyperemic to resting MBF. Agatston CAC score was determined from chest multidetector computed tomography.
Mean values of hyperemic MBF and perfusion reserve, but not resting MBF, were monotonically lower across increasing CAC levels. After adjusting for age and gender, odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) of reduced perfusion reserve (<2.5) for subjects with CAC scores of 0, 0.1 to 99.9, 100 to 399, and ≥400 were 1.00 (reference), 2.16 (0.96 to 4.84), 2.81 (1.04 to 7.58), and 4.99 (1.73 to 14.4), respectively. Further adjustment for other coronary risk factors did not substantially modify the association. However, the inverse association between perfusion reserve and CAC attenuated with advancing age (p for interaction < 0.05).
Coronary vasodilatory response was associated inversely with the presence and severity of CAC in asymptomatic adults. Myocardial perfusion could be impaired by or manifest the progression to subclinical coronary atherosclerosis in the absence of clinical CHD.
PMCID: PMC1853335  PMID: 16949496

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