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1.  Reduced Kidney Function and Preclinical Atherosclerosis in HIV-Infected Individuals: The Study of Fat Redistribution and Metabolic Change in HIV Infection (FRAM) 
American Journal of Nephrology  2011;33(5):453-460.
Reduced kidney function and albuminuria are associated with higher risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and mortality in HIV-infected individuals. We investigated whether reduced estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and albuminuria are associated with subclinical vascular disease, as assessed by carotid intima-medial thickness (cIMT).
Cross-sectional analysis of 476 HIV-infected individuals without clinical evidence of CVD enrolled in the Fat Redistribution and Metabolic Change in HIV infection (FRAM) study, using multivariable linear regression. eGFRCys and eGFRCr were calculated from cystatin C and creatinine levels. Albuminuria was defined as a positive urine dipstick (≥1+) or urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio ≥30 mg/g. Common and internal cIMT were measured by high-resolution B-mode ultrasound.
In unadjusted analyses, eGFRCys and eGFRCr were strongly associated with common and internal cIMT. Each 10 ml/min/1.73 m2 decrease in eGFRCys and eGFRCr was associated with a 0.008 mm higher common cIMT (p = 0.003, p = 0.01) and a 0.024 and 0.029 mm higher internal cIMT (p = 0.003), respectively. These associations were eliminated after adjustment for age, gender, and race. Albuminuria showed little association with common or internal cIMT in all models.
In HIV-infected individuals without prior CVD, reduced kidney function and albuminuria were not independently associated with subclinical vascular disease, as assessed by cIMT. These results suggest that research should focus on searching for novel mechanisms by which kidney disease confers cardiovascular risk in HIV-infected individuals.
PMCID: PMC3100378  PMID: 21508633
Cystatin C; Intima-medial thickness; HIV; Atherosclerosis; Cardiovascular disease; Kidney
2.  Subclinical atherosclerotic changes related to chronic kidney disease in asymptomatic black and white young adults: The Bogalusa Heart Study 
Annals of epidemiology  2011;21(5):311-317.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) remains asymptomatic until its late stage, and also significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular (CV) disease morbidity and mortality. However, information in scant on the prevalence of CKD, and its association with subclinical atherosclerosis as depicted by carotid-intima media thickness (IMT) in younger adults.
This cross-sectional study included 1193 participants (43% males, 30% blacks) aged 23–43 years, residing in the semi-rural biracial (black-white) community of Bogalusa, LA. The measured variables include estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) to determine functional renal changes and urine album creatinine ratio (ACR) to diagnose albuminuria, along with CV risk factor variables, and both segmental and composite carotid IMT.
Ninety nine (8.5%) subjects had CKD, with blacks showing higher prevalence than whites (p=0.01). Subjects with albuminuria had significantly higher internal carotid IMT (p=0.03), common carotid IMT (p=0.005), and composite carotid IMT (p=0.04) than those without. In the multivariate logistic regression model, albuminuria was associated with black race (OR 1.92, p=0.005), female sex (OR 2.24, p=0.002), diabetes (OR 6.26. p <0.001), hypertension (OR 2.36, p <0.001), obesity (OR 1.73, p=0.02), and composite carotid IMT (OR 1.83, p=0.02), after adjusting for age. However, reduction in eGFR did not show significant independent association with carotid IMT.
Among asymptomatic young adults, subclinical atherosclerosis and structural renal damage depicted by albuminuria coexist, which have implications for early prevention and control.
PMCID: PMC3070913  PMID: 21458723
chronic kidney failure; glomerular filtration rate; albuminuria; carotid IMT; atherosclerosis; young adult
3.  Homocystein and carotid atherosclerosis in chronic renal failure 
Hippokratia  2007;11(4):205-209.
Background: Since total homocystein (Hcy) is markedly elevated in patients with chronic renal failure (CRF), it has been presented as potential factor contributing to the high risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in CRF. The aim of the study was to examine the significance of elevated Hcy and other cardiovascular risk factors for carotid atherosclerosis in patients with CRF.
Material and Methdos: Fifty six patients 16-M, 40- F, average age 58±14.55, creatinine clearance 39.19±10.11 ml/min were examined. In addition, 20 control healthy subjects were examined. The association of Hcy levels and classic risk factors for atherosclerosis with common carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) was examined. B-mode ultrasound measurement of carotid IMT was performed in 56 hypertensive pts with CRF (glomerular filtration rate > 20 ml / min and < 90 ml/min), 44 hypertensive pts with normal renal function and 20 healthy volunteers. The mean duration of hypertension was 145.12 years.
Results: IMT in all examined hypertensive pts was increased above normal clinical value and significantly higher then in healthy controls (0.75± 0.006/ 0.60±0.1, p<0.001). The carotid IMT was similar between hypertensive pts with CRF and hypertensive pts with normal renal function ( 0.74 ±0.1/ 0.76 ±0.1, p>0.05). Significant predictors for IMT were age (r=0.358, p<0.04), duration of hypertension (r=0.395, p=0.023), diabetes duration (r=0.343, p<0.02), as well as duration of CRF (r=0.324, p<0.006). There was a negative correlation between IMT and glomerular filtration rate assessed by creatinine clearance (r= -0.303, p<0.003). Renal function, described by creatinine clearance was the strongest determinant for Hcy levels ( r =- 0.332, p<0.008). Increased IMT was estimated in pts with CRF compared to healthy controls ( 0.74±0.10 vs 0,59±0.10, p<0.001). We found association between Hcy and carotid IMT ( r=0.344, p<0.015). No consistent association was found between IMT and other specific for CRF cardiovascular risk factors.
Conclusion: The study suggests that patients with mild renal failure have increased IMT of the common carotid artery and that elevated plasma Hcy level in CRF is associated with carotid intima- media thickening.
PMCID: PMC2552986  PMID: 19582196
total homocystein; ultrasound examination; carotid artery; carotid intima- media thickness; chronic renal failure; cardiovascular risk factors
4.  Clinical and Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease and Kidney Function Decline in the Elderly 
Atherosclerosis  2008;204(1):298-303.
Kidney function decline in elderly persons may be the result of microvascular atherosclerosis. As a proxy for the renovascular system, we evaluated the association of clinical and subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD) with kidney function decline.
This study included 4,380 subjects from the Cardiovascular Health Study, a longitudinal, community-based cohort of persons aged ≥ 65 from 4 U.S. communities. Creatinine and cystatin C were measured at baseline, year 3, and year 7; eligible subjects had at least two measures. Creatinine-based estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFRcreat) was calculated using the MDRD equation. Rapid kidney function decline was defined as an annual eGFR loss >3 mL/min/1.73m2. Predictors of rapid kidney decline included prevalent and subclinical measures of CVD.
Mean decline in eGFRcreat was 0.4 ± 2.6/year; 714 (16%) had rapid progression. In multivariate models adjusted for demographics, cardiovascular risk factors, and inflammation, prevalent stroke (OR, 95% CI; 1.55, 1.16–2.08) and heart failure (OR, 95% CI: 1.80, 1.40–2.31) were independent predictors of rapid kidney decline. Among persons without clinical CV, the subclinical disease measures ankle arm index < 0.9 (OR, 95% CI: 1.67, 1.25–2.24), common carotid intima-media thickness (≥ 1.14mm) (OR, 95% CI: 1.52, 1.12–2.06) and internal carotid intima-media thickness (>1.82mm) (OR, 95% CI: 1.50, 1.12–2.02) had independent associations with rapid kidney function decline. Results were similar using cystatin C.
Clinical atherosclerosis and heart failure and subclinical measures of CVD have independent associations with kidney function decline progression in the elderly, suggesting an underlying role of renal atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC2696894  PMID: 18848325
Cystatin C; kidney disease; atherosclerosis
5.  Changes in Carotid Intima-Media Thickness During the Cardiac Cycle: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Common carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT), a measure of subclinical cardiovascular disease, changes during the cardiac cycle. The magnitude of this effect and its implications have not been well studied.
Methods and Results
Far-wall IMT measurements of the right common carotid artery were measured at end diastole and peak systole in 5633 individuals from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Multivariable regression models were generated with end-diastolic IMT, peak-systolic IMT, and change in IMT during the cardiac cycle as dependent variables and traditional cardiovascular risk factors as independent variables. The average age of our population was 61.9 (45 to 84) years. Average change in carotid IMT during the cardiac cycle was 0.041 mm (95% confidence interval: 0.039 to 0.042 mm), with a mean IMT of 0.68 mm. End-diastolic IMT and peak-systolic IMT were similarly associated with risk factors. In a fully adjusted model, change in carotid IMT during the cardiac cycle was associated with ethnicity and pulse pressure (P=0.001) and not age, sex, or other risk factors. Chinese and Hispanics had less of a change in IMT than did non-Hispanic whites. With peak-systolic IMT reference values used as normative data, 31.3% more individuals were classified as being in the upper quartile of IMT and at high risk for cardiovascular disease than would be expected when IMT is measured at end diastole.
Measurable differences in IMT are seen during the cardiac cycle. This affects the interpretation of IMT measurements used for cardiovascular risk assessment, given published normative data with IMT measured at peak systole.
Clinical Trial Registration
URL: Unique identifier: NCT00063440. (J Am Heart Assoc. 2012;1:e001420 doi: 10.1161/JAHA.112.001420.)
PMCID: PMC3487346  PMID: 23130162
atherosclerosis; blood pressure; carotid arteries; diastole; epidemiology; risk factors; systole; ultrasonics
6.  Associations of edge detected and manual traced common carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) measurements with Framingham risk factors: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) is a marker of cardiovascular disease derived from ultrasound images of the carotid artery. In most outcome studies, human readers identify and trace the key IMT interfaces. We evaluate an alternate approach using automated edge detection.
We study a subset of 5640 participants with an average age 61.7 years (48% men) of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis composed of whites, Chinese, Hispanic and African-Americans that are part of the MESA IMT progression study. Manual tracing IMT (mt_IMT) and edge-detected IMT (ed_IMT) measurements of the far wall of the common carotid artery (CCA) served as outcome variables for multivariable linear regression models using Framingham cardiovascular risk factors and ethnicity as independent predictors.
Measurements of mt_IMT was obtainable in 99.9% (5633/5640) and of ed_IMT in 98.9% (5579/5640) of individuals. Average ed_IMT was 0.19 mm larger than mt_IMT. Inter-reader systematic differences (bias) in IMT measurements were apparent for mt_IMT but not ed_IMT. Based on complete data on 5538 individuals, associations of IMT with risk factors were stronger (p < 0.0001) for mt_IMT (model r2: 19.5%) than ed_IMT (model r2: 18.5%).
We conclude that this edge-detection process generates IMT values equivalent to manually traced ones since it preserves key associations with cardiovascular risk factors. It also decreases inter-reader bias, potentially making it applicable for use in cardiovascular risk assessment.
PMCID: PMC3169166  PMID: 21546477
Ultrasonography; Risk Factors; Carotid Arteries; Carotid Intima Media Thickness
7.  Association Between Carotid Intima-Media Thickness and Pericardial Fat in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) is a sub-clinical marker of atherosclerosis and a strong predictor of stroke. Pericardial fat (PF), the fat depot around the heart, has been associated with several atherosclerosis risk factors. We sought to examine the association between carotid IMT and PF, and to examine whether such an association is independent from common atherosclerosis risk factors including measures of overall adiposity.
Unadjusted and multivariable adjusted linear regression analysis was used to examine associations between common (CCA-IMT) and internal (ICA-IMT) carotid IMT with PF in a random sample of 996 participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) who underwent carotid ultrasound and chest CT at baseline examination.
A significant positive correlation was observed between PF and CCA-IMT (r =0.27, P<0.0001) and ICA-IMT (r =0.17, P<0.0001). In an unadjusted sex-specific linear regression analysis, there was a significant association between PF (1-SD difference) and CCA-IMT (mm) in both women (β coefficient (95% CI): 0.06 (0.04, 0.08), P<0.0001) and men (0.03 (0.01, 0.05), P<0.0002), an association that persisted after further adjusting for age and ethnicity (0.02 (+0.00, 0.04), P=0.0120 for women, and 0.02 (+0.00, 0.03), P=0.0208 for men). However, after additional adjustment for atherosclerosis risk factors and either BMI or waist circumference, these relations were no longer significant in either sex. In similar analyses, PF was significantly associated with ICA-IMT in both men (0.11 (0.06, 0.15), P<0.0001) and women (0.08 (0.02, 0.13), P=041). These relations were no longer significant in women in multivariable adjusted models, but persisted in men in all models except after adjusting for age, ethnicity and waist circumference.
In the general population PF is associated with carotid IMT, an association that possibly not independent from markers of overall adiposity or common atherosclerosis risk factors.
PMCID: PMC2817960  PMID: 20123228
8.  Heritability of Carotid Intima-Media Thickness: A Twin Study 
Atherosclerosis  2007;197(2):814-820.
To estimate the heritability of carotid intima-media thickness (IMT), a surrogate marker for atherosclerosis, independent of traditional coronary risk factors.
Methods and Results
We performed a classical twin study of carotid IMT using 98 middle-aged male twin pairs, 58 monozygotic (MZ) and 40 dizygotic (DZ) pairs, from the Vietnam Era Twin Registry. All twins were free of overt cardiovascular disease. Carotid IMT was measured by ultrasound. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to determine the association between traditional cardiovascular risk factors and carotid IMT. Intraclass correlation coefficients and genetic modeling techniques were used to determine the relative contributions of genes and environment to the variation in carotid IMT. In our sample, the mean of the maximum carotid IMT was 0.75 ± 0.11. Age, systolic blood pressure and HDL were significantly associated with carotid IMT. The intraclass correlation coefficient for carotid IMT was larger in MZ (0.66; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.62–0.69) than in DZ twins (0.37; 95% CI, 0.29–0.44), and the unadjusted heritability was 0.69 (95% CI, 0.54–0.79). After adjusting for traditional coronary risk factors, the heritability of carotid IMT was slightly reduced but still of considerable magnitude (0.59; 95% CI, 0.39–0.73).
Genetic factors have a substantial influence on the variation of carotid IMT. Most of this genetic effect occurs through pathways independent of traditional coronary risk factors.
PMCID: PMC2387097  PMID: 17825306
heritability; carotid intima-media thickness; twin study; atherosclerosis
9.  The estimated GFR, but not the stage of diabetic nephropathy graded by the urinary albumin excretion, is associated with the carotid intima-media thickness in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a cross-sectional study 
To study the relationship between the intima-media thickness (IMT) of the carotid artery and the stage of chronic kidney disease (CKD) based on the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and diabetic nephropathy graded by the urinary albumin excretion (UAE) in the patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
A cross-sectional study was performed in 338 patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. The carotid IMT was measured using an ultrasonographic examination.
The mean carotid IMT was 1.06 ± 0.27 mm, and 42% of the subjects showed IMT thickening (≥ 1.1 mm). Cerebrovascular disease and coronary heart disease were frequent in the patients with IMT thickening. The carotid IMT elevated significantly with the stage progression of CKD (0.87 ± 0.19 mm in stage 1, 1.02 ± 0.26 mm in stage 2, 1.11 ± 0.26 mm in stage 3, and 1.11 ± 0.27 mm in stage 4+5). However, the IMT was not significantly different among the various stages of diabetic nephropathy. The IMT was significantly greater in the diabetic patients with hypertension compared to those without hypertension. The IMT positively correlated with the age, the duration of diabetes mellitus, and the brachial-ankle pulse wave velocities (baPWV), and negatively correlated with the eGFR. In a stepwise multivariate regression analysis, the eGFR and the baPWV were independently associated with the carotid IMT.
Our study is the first report showing a relationship between the carotid IMT and the renal parameters including eGFR and the stages of diabetic nephropathy with a confirmed association between the IMT and diabetic macroangiopathy. Our study further confirms the importance of intensive examinations for the early detection of atherosclerosis and positive treatments for hypertension, dyslipidaemia, obesity, as well as hyperglycaemia are necessary when a reduced eGFR is found in diabetic patients.
PMCID: PMC2877657  PMID: 20470427
10.  Pre-Clinical Atherosclerosis due to HIV Infection: Carotid Intima-Medial Thickness Measurements from the FRAM Study 
AIDS (London, England)  2009;23(14):1841-1849.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is an increasing cause of morbidity and mortality in HIV-infected patients. However, it is controversial whether HIV infection contributes to accelerated atherosclerosis independent of traditional CVD risk factors.
Cross-sectional study of HIV-infected and control subjects without pre-existing CVD from the study of Fat Redistribution and Metabolic Change in HIV Infection (FRAM) and the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Pre-clinical atherosclerosis was assessed by carotid intima-medial thickness (IMT) measurements in the internal/bulb and common regions in HIV-infected and control subjects after adjusting for traditional CVD risk factors.
For internal carotid, mean IMT was 1.17±0.50mm for HIV-infected participants and 1.06±0.58mm for controls (p<0.0001). After multivariable adjustment for demographic characteristics, the mean difference of HIV-infected vs. controls was +0.188mm (95%CI 0.113-0.263, p<0.0001). Further adjustment for traditional CVD risk factors modestly attenuated the HIV association (+0.148mm, 95%CI 0.072-0.224, p=0.0001). For the common carotid, HIV infection was independently associated with greater IMT (+0.033mm, 95%CI 0.010, 0.056, p=0.005). The association of HIV infection with IMT was similar to that of smoking which was also associated with greater IMT (internal +0.173mm, common +0.020mm).
Even after adjustment for traditional CVD risk factors, HIV infection was accompanied by more extensive atherosclerosis measured by IMT. The stronger association of HIV infection with IMT in the internal/bulb region compared to the common carotid may explain previous discrepancies in the literature. The association of HIV infection with IMT was similar to that of traditional CVD risk factors, such as smoking.
PMCID: PMC3156613  PMID: 19455012
HIV; carotid IMT; smoking; cholesterol; diabetes; atherosclerosis
11.  Variations in Common Carotid Artery Intima-Media Thickness (cIMT) during the Cardiac Cycle: Implications for Cardiovascular Risk Assessment 
Common carotid artery (CCA) intima-media thickness (cIMT), a measure of atherosclerosis, varies between peak-systole (PS) and end-diastole (ED). This difference might affect cardiovascular risk assessment.
Materials and methods
IMT measurements of the right and left CCA were synchronized with an electrocardiogram: R-wave for ED and T-wave for PS. IMT was measured in 2930 members of the Framingham Offspring Study. Multivariable regression models were generated with ED-IMT, PS-IMT and change in IMT as dependent variables and Framingham risk factors as independent variables. ED-IMT estimates were compared to the upper quartile of IMT based on normative data obtained at PS.
The average age of our population was 57.9 years. Average difference in IMT during the cardiac cycle was 0.037 mm (95% CI: 0.035–0.038 mm). ED-IMT and PS-IMT had similar associations with Framingham risk factors (total R2= 0.292 versus 0.275) and were significantly associated with all risk factors. In a fully adjusted multivariable model, a thinner IMT at peak-systole was associated with pulse pressure (p < 0.0001), LDL-cholesterol (p = 0.0064), age (p = 0.046), and no other risk factors. Performing ED-IMT measurements while using upper quartile PS-IMT normative data lead to inappropriately increasing by 42.1% the number of individuals in the fourth IMT quartile (high cardiovascular risk category).
The difference in IMT between peak-systole and end-diastole is associated with pulse pressure, LDL-cholesterol, and age. In our study, mean IMT difference during the cardiac cycle lead to an overestimation by 42.1% of individuals at high risk for cardiovascular disease.
PMCID: PMC3544292  PMID: 22721828
Ultrasonics; Risk Factors; Carotid Arteries; Blood Pressure; systole; diastole
12.  Relation of Serum Phosphorus Levels to Carotid Intima-media Thickness in Asymptomatic Young Adults (from the Bogalusa Heart Study) 
The American journal of cardiology  2010;106(6):793-797.
Elevated serum phosphorus has been associated with increased mortality from cardiovascular (CV) disease. However, information is scant regarding the influence of serum phosphorus within the normal range on vascular risk in terms of subclinical atherosclerosis in asymptomatic young adults. Serum phosphorus along with other CV risk factor variables were measured in 856 white and 354 black subjects without known CV disease or renal disease. Carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) was measured by B-mode ultrasonography. Significant race and sex differences were noted for serum phosphorus (blacks>whites) and carotid IMT (black females>white females; males>females). In bivariate analyses, serum phosphorus was correlated with carotid IMT (p<0.001); and smokers showed higher phosphorus levels than nonsmokers (p=0.008). In multivariate regression analyses, carotid IMT was significantly associated with serum phosphorus (regression coefficient β=0.028, p<0.001) and smoking (β=0.032, p<0.001), adjusting for other CV risk factors and estimated glomerular filtration rate. In addition, a significant interaction effect of cigarette smoking and serum phosphorus on carotid IMT was noted, with a greater increasing trend of carotid IMT with phosphorus in smokers than that in nonsmokers (p=0.019 for interaction). In conclusion, serum phosphorus within the normal range is an important correlate of carotid IMT in asymptomatic young adults, with smoking potentiating this adverse association.
PMCID: PMC3103213  PMID: 20816119
phosphorus; carotid artery; carotid intima-media thickness; cigarette smoking; atherosclerosis
13.  Pulse Pressure and Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
American Journal of Hypertension  2013;26(5):636-642.
Brachial pulse pressure (PP) has been found to be associated with markers of subclinical cardiovascular disease, including carotid intima–media thickness and left-ventricular mass index (LVMI), but it is unclear whether these associations are independent of traditional cardiovascular risk factors and of the steady, nonpulsatile component of blood pressure (BP). Moreover, it is unknown whether these associations are modified by gender, age, or race/ethnicity.
We used multivariate linear regression models to assess the relationship between brachial PP and three markers of subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD) (common carotid intima–media thickness (CC-IMT), internal carotid intima–media thickness (IC-IMT), and LVMI) in four race/ethnic groups in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. The models were adjusted for traditional Framingham risk factors (age, low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, diabetes, smoking status), use of lipid-lowering medication, use of antihypertensive medication, study site, and mean arterial pressure (MAP).
The assessment was done on 6,776 participants (2,612 non-Hispanic white, 1,870 African-American, 1,494 Hispanic, and 800 Chinese persons). The associations between brachial PP and CC-IMT, IC-IMT, and LVMI were significant in fully adjusted models. The three subclinical markers also showed significant interactions with gender (P < 0.0001), with stronger interactions in men. There was an interaction with age for LVMI (P = 0.004) and IC-IMT (P = 0.008). Race/ethnicity modified the association of PP with CC-IMT.
Brachial PP was independently associated with subclinical CVD after adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors and mean arterial pressure (MAP). The strength of the association differed significantly for strata of gender, age, and race/ethnicity.
PMCID: PMC3657481  PMID: 23388832
pulse pressare; subclinical cardiovascular disease; carotid intima–media thickness; left ventricular mass index; aging; hypertension; arterial stiffness; blood pressure.
14.  Genetic and Environmental Contributions to Carotid Intima-Media Thickness and Obesity Phenotypes in the Northern Manhattan Family Study 
Background and Purpose
Both carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and obesity are independent determinants of stroke and cardiovascular disease. The prevalence of obesity is higher in Hispanics. The genetic basis of IMT and obesity has not been well-characterized in Caribbean Hispanics. The purpose of this study was to examine the genetic and environmental contributions to IMT and obesity in this population.
The data included 440 subjects from 77 Caribbean Hispanic families. Mean IMT and maximum IMT were measured in the internal carotid artery, common carotid artery, and carotid bifurcation. The total IMT was calculated as the mean value of IMT at all segments. Obesity phenotypes included body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), and skin-fold thickness. Variance component methods were used to estimate age-adjusted and sex-adjusted heritability. Bivariate analyses were conducted to test for genetic and environmental correlations between IMT and obesity.
Heritabilities for IMT ranged from 9% to 40%, with the highest for total maximum IMT and lowest for internal carotid artery maximum IMT. Heritabilities for BMI, waist circumference, WHR, and skin-fold thickness were 44%, 47%, 5%, and 36%, respectively. There were significant genetic, but not environmental, correlations between IMT and BMI, waist circumference, and skin-fold thickness. There were no genetic or environmental correlations between IMT and WHR.
We found a substantial genetic contribution to IMT, BMI, waist circumference, and skin-fold thickness. Obesity and IMT may share common genetic factors. Future gene mapping studies are warranted to identify genes predisposing to IMT and obesity in this population.
PMCID: PMC1325223  PMID: 15331789
carotid arteries; genetics; obesity; stroke
15.  The ambulatory arterial stiffness index and target-organ damage in Chinese patients with chronic kidney disease 
BMC Nephrology  2013;14:257.
The ambulatory arterial stiffness index (AASI) can be used to predict cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in hypertensive patients. However, data on AASI in Chinese patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) is not available.
This cross-sectional study enrolled 583 CKD patients. Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to evaluate the relationship between AASI and renal function and parameters of cardiovascular injury.
Patients with a higher AASI had a higher systolic blood pressure, a lower estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), a higher serum cystatin C, a higher left ventricular mass index (LVMI) and carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT). Univariate analyses showed that AASI was positively correlated with serum cystatin C (r=0.296, P < 0.001), serum creatinine (r=0.182, P < 0.001), and LVMI (r = 0.205, P < 0.001) and negatively correlated with the eGFR (r = –0.200, P < 0.001). Multivariate analyses revealed that serum cystatin C, eGFR, serum creatinine and LVMI were independently correlated with AASI.
These data suggest that AASI was closely correlated with renal function and parameters of cardiovascular injury in Chinese CKD patients. Good quality, long-term, large longitudinal trials to validate the role of AASI in clinical practice for Chinese CKD patients.
PMCID: PMC3840650  PMID: 24245955
Ambulatory arterial stiffness index; Chronic kidney disease; Renal function; Left ventricular mass index
16.  Clinical Factors Associated with Carotid Plaque and Intima-Medial Thickness in HIV-Infected Patients 
Yonsei Medical Journal  2013;54(4):990-998.
HIV-infected patients are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, which may be mediated in part by inflammation. This study aimed to evaluate the risk factors of carotid plaque, and clinical factors associated with carotid atherosclerosis measured by carotid intima-medial thickness (cIMT) in HIV patients.
Materials and Methods
Clinical and cardiometabolic factors as well as cIMT were prospectively measured in 145 HIV-infected participants who had received combined antiretroviral therapy for ≥6 months. The mean value of the bilateral average cIMT level was used as Mean-IMT in the analysis, and the greatest value among the measured cIMT levels was used as Max-IMT.
Among 145 patients, 34 (23.4%) had carotid plaque. Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed three independent risk factors of carotid plaque: old age [odds ratio (OR) 6.16, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.09-34.88; p=0.040], hypertension (OR 12.62, 95% CI 1.72-92.49; p=0.013) and higher low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) (OR 1.08, 95% CI 1.01-1.16; p=0.039). Levels of estimated glomerular filtration rate were inversely associated with Mean-IMT (r=-0.379, p<0.001) and Max-IMT (r=-0.389, p<0.001). Stepwise multivariate regression analyses revealed that age, total cholesterol and fasting glucose were positively correlated with cIMT, independent of other risk factors.
The presence of hypertension, old age and a higher level of LDL-C were independent risk factors of carotid plaque among HIV-infected subjects.
PMCID: PMC3663240  PMID: 23709436
Carotid plaque; carotid artery intima-media thickness; atherosclerosis; combined antiretroviral therapy; HIV infection
17.  B-mode ultrasound common carotid artery intima-media thickness and external diameter: cross-sectional and longitudinal associations with carotid atherosclerosis in a large population sample 
Arterial diameter and intima-media thickness (IMT) enlargement may each be related to the atherosclerotic process. Their separate or combined enlargement may indicate different arterial phenotypes with different atherosclerosis risk.
We investigated cross-sectional (baseline 1987–89: n = 7956) and prospective (median follow-up = 5.9 years: n = 4845) associations between baseline right common carotid artery (RCCA) external diameter and IMT with existing and incident carotid atherosclerotic lesions detected by B-mode ultrasound in any right or left carotid segments. Logistic regression models (unadjusted, adjusted for IMT, or adjusted for IMT and risk factors) were used to relate baseline diameter to existing carotid lesions while comparably adjusted parametric survival models assessed baseline diameter associations with carotid atherosclerosis progression (incident carotid lesions). Four baseline arterial phenotypes were categorized as having 1) neither IMT nor diameter enlarged (reference), 2) isolated IMT thickening, 3) isolated diameter enlargement, and 4) enlargement of both IMT and diameter. The association between these phenotypes and progression to definitive carotid atherosclerotic lesions was assessed over the follow-up period.
Each standard deviation increment of baseline RCCA diameter was associated with increasing carotid lesion prevalence (unadjusted odds ratio [OR] = 1.54, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.47–1.62) and with progression of carotid atherosclerosis (unadjusted hazards ratio (HR) = 1.37, 95% CI = 1.28–1.46); and the associations remained significant even after adjustment for IMT and risk factors (prevalence OR = 1.11, 95% CI = 1.04–1.18; progression HR = 1.11, 95% CI = 1.03–1.19). Controlling for gender, age and race, persons with both RCCA IMT and diameter in the upper 50th percentiles had the greatest risk of progressing to clearly defined carotid atherosclerotic lesions (all HR = 1.71, 95% CI = 1.47–2.0; men HR = 1.88, 95% CI = 1.48–2.39; women HR = 1.59, 95% CI = 1.31–1.95) while RCCA IMT or diameter alone in the upper 50th percentile produced significantly lower estimated risks.
RCCA IMT and external diameter provide partially overlapping information relating to carotid atherosclerotic lesions. More importantly, the RCCA phenotype of coexistent wall thickening with external diameter enlargement indicates higher atherosclerotic risk than isolated wall thickening or diameter enlargement.
PMCID: PMC2277382  PMID: 18321381
18.  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
19.  Atherosclerotic plaques occur in absence of intima-media thickening in both systemic sclerosis and systemic lupus erythematosus: a duplexsonography study of carotid and femoral arteries and follow-up for cardiovascular events 
The objective of this cross-sectional and retrospective cohort study was (1) to determine the usefulness of intima-media thickness (IMT) in contrast to plaque assessment, (2) to examine the value of additive femoral artery sonography and (3) to identify potential risk factors for atherosclerosis and incident cardiovascular events in systemic sclerosis (SSc) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients.
In this study, 90 SSc and 100 SLE patients were examined by duplexsonography. IMT was measured in common carotid and common femoral arteries, plaques were assessed in common, internal and external carotid and common, proximal superficial and deep femoral arteries. Different definitions of pathological IMT (pIMT) were compared with the presence of plaque. Results were evaluated in relation to traditional and non-traditional risk factors for baseline atherosclerosis (logistic regression) and their predictive value for cardiovascular events during follow-up (cox regression).
Definite atherosclerosis occurred frequently without signs of subclinical atherosclerosis in both diseases: pIMT >0.9 mm was present in only 17/59 (28.9%) SSc and 13/49 (26.5%) SLE patients with already present atherosclerotic plaques. Using age-adjusted pIMT definitions, this rate was even lower (5.1-10.3% in SSc, 14.3-26.5% in SLE). Plaques were located only at the carotid or only at the femoral arteries in 26 (13.7%) and 24 (12.6%) patients, respectively. Age and nicotine pack-years were independently associated with atherosclerotic plaques in SLE and SSc patients, as well as the cumulative prednisolone dose in SSc subgroup, and ssDNA positive SLE patients had a lower risk for atherosclerotic plaque. During follow-up (available for 129/190 (67.9%) patients, 650 person-years), cardiovascular events occurred more often in patients with coronary heart disease (adjusted-hazards ratio (HR) 10.19, 95% confidence interval (CI) 3.04 to 34.17, P <0.001), male patients (adjusted-HR 8.78, 95% CI 2.73 to 28.19, P <0.001) and in patients with coexistent carotid and femoral plaques (adjusted-HR 5.92, 95% CI 1.55 to 22.67, P = 0.009). Patients with solely carotid or femoral plaque were not at higher risk.
Atherosclerotic plaque lesions can be found frequently in absence of intima-media thickening in both SSc and SLE patients. As well as routine sonography of carotid arteries, the sonography of femoral arteries is recommended to identify additional atherosclerotic lesions and to detect patients at a high risk for cardiovascular events.
PMCID: PMC3978872  PMID: 24548804
20.  Effect of inter-reader variability on outcomes in studies using carotid intima media thickness quantified by carotid ultrasonography 
European journal of epidemiology  2010;25(6):385-392.
Systematic differences between readers or equipment in imaging studies are not uncommon; failure to account for such differences when using Carotid Ultrasonography may introduce bias into associations between carotid intima media thickness (cIMT) and outcomes. We demonstrate the impact of this source of systematic measurement error (SME) using data on 5,521 participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) and 661 participants from the Study of Fat Redistribution and Metabolic Change in HIV Infection (FRAM). Participants were between 37 and 78 years old. Two outcomes were considered: (1) the effect of HIV infection on cIMT (between study) and (2) the association of cIMT with cardiovascular events (within study). All estimates were adjusted for demographics (age, gender, and ethnicity) and for traditional cardiovascular disease risk factors (smoking, blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol). When comparing the FRAM and MESA cohorts to estimate the association of HIV infection on common cIMT, accounting for machine and reader variability (between study variability) reduced the difference associated with HIV infection from +0.080 mm (95% Confidence Interval (CI):0.065–0.095) to +0.037 mm (95% CI:0.003 to 0.072) while internal cIMT declined from +0.254 mm (95% CI:0.205–0.303) to +0.192 mm (95% CI:0.076–0.308). Attenuation of the association between cIMT and cardiovascular endpoints occurred when within study reader variability was not accounted for. The effect of SME due to use of multiple readers or machines is most important when comparisons are made between two different study populations. Within-cohort measurement error dilutes the association with events.
PMCID: PMC3161119  PMID: 20309612
Carotid intima media thickness; Measurement error; Bias; Carotid ultrasonography
21.  Cystatin C and Aging Success 
Archives of internal medicine  2008;168(2):147-153.
To our knowledge, the effect of kidney function on successful aging has not been examined.
We evaluated the relationship between cystatin C and aging success during a 6-year follow-up in the Cardiovascular Health Study, a community-based cohort of older adults (aged ≥65 years). Successful aging was defined as remaining free of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and having intact physical and cognitive functioning. In adjusted analysis, an accelerated failure time model was used to evaluate the percentage reduction in successful years by level of cystatin C. A separate Cox proportional hazards model evaluated whether cystatin C was related to incident physical and cognitive disability.
A total of 2140 participants had cystatin C measured and were free of the previously mentioned conditions at baseline. Their mean age was 74 years. The mean cystatin C level, creatinine level, and estimated glomerular filtration rate were 1.06 mg/L, 0.93 mg/dL, and 78 mL/min/1.73 m2, respectively (to convert cystatin C to nanomoles per liter, multiply by 75; and to convert creatinine to micromoles per liter, multiply by 88.4). A total of 873 participants reached a first event in follow-up, 138 because of cognitive disability, 238 because of physical disability, 34 because of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 146 because of cancer, and 317 because of cardiovascular disease. The adjusted percentage reduction in successful life years in the highest vs the lowest quartile of cystatin C was 27% (95% confidence interval, 11%-39%). The highest vs lowest quartile of cystatin C also was independently associated with incident cognitive or physical disability (hazard ratio, 1.39; 95% confidence interval, 1.00-1.98).
A higher cystatin C level, even within a range of relatively normal kidney function, was associated with unsuccessful aging.
PMCID: PMC2871318  PMID: 18227360
22.  Carotid Intima-Media Thickness Is Associated With Allelic Variants of Stromelysin-1, Interleukin-6, and Hepatic Lipase Genes The Northern Manhattan Prospective Cohort Study 
Background and Purpose
Atherosclerosis is a complex disorder with hereditary and environmental causes. Carotid artery intima-media wall thickness (IMT) is a useful measure of atherosclerosis. The objective of this study was to determine the association between carotid IMT and functional promoter variants of stromelysin-1 (MMP3: −1612 5A>6A), interleukin-6 (IL6: −174G>C), and hepatic lipase (HL: −480C>T) genes.
B-mode carotid ultrasound was performed among 87 subjects (mean age, 70 ± 12 years; 55% women; 60% Caribbean-Hispanic, 25% black, and 13% white) from the Northern Manhattan Prospective Cohort Study. Carotid IMT was calculated as a composite measure (mean of the maximum IMT in the bifurcation, the common carotid artery, and the internal carotid artery).
For all polymorphisms, genotype distribution was not significantly different from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. The frequencies of the rare alleles were as follows: MMP3 −1612 5A>6A, 0.31 (95% CI, 0.25 to 0.39); IL6 −174 G>C, 0.20 (95% CI, 0.13 to 0.25); and HL −480 C>T, 0.45 (95% CI, 0.35 to 0.50). Carotid IMT in the sample was 0.78±0.18 mm. Subjects with the MMP3 genotype 6A6A had 8% greater mean carotid IMT than the other MMP3 genotypes combined (0.95±0.17 versus 0.87±0.15 mm; P=0.04). Subjects with the IL6 genotype GG had 11% greater IMT (0.85±0.17 versus 0.76±0.16 mm; P=0.03), and those with the HL genotype CC had 13% greater IMT (0.87±20 versus 0.76±0.18 mm; P=0.02) than the other genotypes combined. Adjustment for other risk factors did not change these associations.
Carotid IMT is higher among subjects homozygous for functional variants in genes related to matrix deposition (MMP3 −16126A), inflammation (IL6 −174G), and lipid metabolism (HL −480C). These associations were independent of race-ethnicity and some environmental exposures. Further studies are needed to confirm these genotype-phenotype associations.
PMCID: PMC2692936  PMID: 11988625
genetics; interleukin-6; intima-media thickness; lipase; stromelysin 1; ultrasonography
23.  Cystatin C is Associated with Inflammation but not Atherosclerosis in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Lupus  2011;21(3):279-287.
Even mild renal impairment is associated with increased atherosclerosis and cardiovascular mortality. Cystatin C, a novel measure of renal function, is more sensitive than conventional creatinine-based measures for the detection of subtle renal impairment. Increased cystatin concentrations are also associated with cardiovascular risk, independent of conventional measures of renal function. We examined the hypothesis that cystatin C is elevated in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and is associated with coronary atherosclerosis.
We measured serum cystatin C, creatinine, TNF-α, IL-6, coronary artery calcium score (CACS), Framingham risk score (FRS), Modified Diet in Renal Disease estimated glomerular filtration rate (MDRD-eGFR) and other clinical parameters in 118 patients with SLE and 83 control subjects. The independent association between concentrations of cystatin C and SLE was evaluated using multivariable linear regression models, and the relationship between renal measures and coronary calcium was assessed with multivariable proportional odds logistic regression models.
Cystatin C, but not other measures of renal function, was significantly higher in patients with SLE than controls (1.09[Interquartile range, IQR: 0.85–1.28]mg/L vs. 0.89 [IQR: 0.76–0.99]mg/L; P<0.001 after adjusting for age, race and sex and MDRD-eGFR). Cystatin C was significantly associated with SLICC (P=0.04), ESR (P<0.001), CRP (P=0.04), TNF-α (P=0.008) and IL-6 (P=0.01) after adjustment for age, race and sex. Cystatin C was not significantly correlated with coronary calcium score in SLE (rho=0.096, P= 0.31) and the association remained non-significant after adjustment for age, race, sex and Framingham risk score (P=0.99).
Cystatin C was higher in patients with SLE than control subjects even after adjustment for conventional measures of renal function. Cystatin C was significantly correlated with several markers of inflammation in SLE but was not associated with coronary atherosclerosis. Subtle renal dysfunction does not appear to be directly associated with accelerated atherosclerosis in SLE.
PMCID: PMC3275887  PMID: 22072023
cystatin C; systemic lupus erythematosus; renal function; atherosclerosis; Inflammation
24.  Sex Differential Genetic Effect of Chromosome 9p21 on Subclinical Atherosclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e15124.
Chromosome 9p21 has recently been shown to be a risk region for a broad range of vascular diseases. Since carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and plaque are independent predictors for vascular diseases, the association between 9p21 and these two phenotypes was investigated.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Carotid segment-specific IMT and plaques were obtained in 1083 stroke- and myocardial infarction-free volunteers. We tested the genotypes and haplotypes of key single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on chromosome 9p21 for the associations with carotid IMT and plaque. Multivariate permutation analyses demonstrated that carriers of the T allele of SNP rs1333040 were significantly associated with thicker common carotid artery (CCA) IMT (p = 0.021) and internal carotid artery (ICA) IMT (p = 0.033). The risk G allele of SNP rs2383207 was associated with ICA IMT (p = 0.007). Carriers of the C allele of SNP rs1333049 were found to be significantly associated with thicker ICA IMT (p = 0.010) and the greater risk for the presence of carotid plaque (OR = 1.57 for heterozygous carriers; OR = 1.75 for homozygous carriers). Haplotype analysis showed a global p value of 0.031 for ICA IMT and 0.115 for the presence of carotid plaque. Comparing with the other haplotypes, the risk TGC haplotype yielded an adjusted p value of 0.011 and 0.017 for thicker ICA IMT and the presence of carotid plaque respectively. Further analyzing the data separated by sex, the results were significant only in men but not in women.
Chromosome 9p21 had a significant association with carotid atherosclerosis, especially ICA IMT. Furthermore, such genetic effect was in a gender-specific manner in the Han Chinese population.
PMCID: PMC2994883  PMID: 21152093
25.  Associations of Carotid Artery Intima-Media Thickness (IMT) With Risk Factors and Prevalent Cardiovascular Disease 
The goal of this study was to compare internal carotid artery (ICA) intima-media thickness (IMT) with common carotid artery (CCA) IMT as global markers of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Cross-sectional measurements of the mean CCA IMT and maximum ICA IMT were made on ultrasound images acquired from the Framingham Offspring cohort (n = 3316; mean age, 58 years; 52.7% women). Linear regression models were used to study the associations of the Framingham risk factors with CCA and ICA IMT. Multivariate logistic regression models and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis were used to compare the associations of prevalent CVD with CCA and ICA IMT and determine sensitivity and specificity.
The association between age and the mean CCA IMT corresponded to an increase of 0.007 mm/y; the increase was 0.037 mm/y for the ICA IMT. Framingham risk factors accounted for 28.6% and 27.5% of the variability in the CCA and ICA IMT, respectively. Age and gender contributed 23.5% to the variability of the CCA IMT and 22.5% to that of the ICA IMT, with the next most important factor being systolic blood pressure (1.9%) for the CCA IMT and smoking (1.6%) for the ICA IMT. The CCA IMT and ICA IMT were statistically significant predictors of prevalent CVD, with the ICA IMT having a larger area under the ROC curve (0.756 versus 0.695).
Associations of risk factors with CCA and ICA IMT are slightly different, and both are independently associated with prevalent CVD. Their value for predicting incident cardiovascular events needs to be compared in outcome studies.
PMCID: PMC3186063  PMID: 21098848
atherosclerosis; carotid artery; disease prevalence; intima-media thickness; risk factors

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