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author:("mrz, winfred")
1.  C-Peptide Levels Are Associated With Mortality and Cardiovascular Mortality in Patients Undergoing Angiography 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(3):708-714.
C-peptide is a proinsulin cleavage product released from the pancreas in amounts equimolar to insulin, and elevated levels of C-peptide have been found in patients with insulin resistance and early type 2 diabetes mellitus. Recent data suggest that C-peptide could play a causal role in the pathophysiology of vascular disease, but nothing is known about the prognostic value of C-peptide concentrations in the circulation.
We examined whether C-peptide is associated with cardiovascular and total mortality in 2,306 patients from the Ludwigshafen Risk and Cardiovascular Health Study who underwent coronary angiography at baseline (1997–2000).
During a mean follow-up of 7.6 years, 440 deaths (19.1%) occurred, 252 (10.9%) of which were due to cardiovascular causes. Age- and sex-adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) in the third compared with the first tertile of C-peptide were 1.46 (95% CI 1.15–1.85; P = 0.002) for all cause and 1.58 (1.15–2.18; P = 0.005) for cardiovascular mortality. After further adjustment for common risk factors as well as markers of glucose metabolism, these HRs remained significant at 1.46 (1.10–1.93; P = 0.008) and 1.55 (1.07–2.24; P = 0.022), respectively. Moreover, patients in higher tertiles of C-peptide exhibited higher levels of markers of endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis as well as a more severe extent of coronary lesions.
In patients undergoing coronary angiography, C-peptide levels are independently associated with all cause and cardiovascular mortality as well as presence and severity of coronary artery disease. Further studies are needed to examine a potential causal role of C-peptide in atherogenesis in humans.
PMCID: PMC3579368  PMID: 23204248
2.  Immune Activation and Inflammation in Patients with Cardiovascular Disease Are Associated with Higher Phenylalanine to Tyrosine Ratios: The Ludwigshafen Risk and Cardiovascular Health Study 
Journal of Amino Acids  2014;2014:783730.
Higher serum neopterin is associated with increased mortality in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). Preferentially Th1-type cytokine interferon-γ stimulates neopterin production by GTP cychlohydrolase I (GCH-I) in parallel in monocyte-derived macrophages and dendritic cells. In other cells, activation of GCH-I leads to the formation of 5,6,7,8-tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), the necessary cofactor of amino acid hydroxylases like phenylalanine 4-hydroxylase (PAH). Serum concentrations of phenylalanine, tyrosine, neopterin, and high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) were measured in 1196 patients derived from the LUdwigshafen RIsk and Cardiovascular Health (LURIC) study, a cohort study among patients referred for coronary angiography. The phenylalanine to tyrosine ratio (Phe/Tyr) served as an estimate of phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) enzyme activity. Serum concentrations of phenylalanine and tyrosine and of Phe/Tyr did not differ between individuals with or without CAD (Welch's t-test: P = n.s.). Higher neopterin and hsCRP concentrations were observed in CAD patients compared to controls (P < 0.0001) and they correlated with Phe/Tyr (Spearman's rank correlation for neopterin: rs = 0.216 and hsCRP: rs = 0.122; both of P < 0.0001) concentrations. In conclusion, immune activation is associated with higher Phe/Tyr in CAD patients. Data indicates subnormal PAH activity which might be involved in the precipitation of neuropsychiatric symptoms in patients.
PMCID: PMC3934657  PMID: 24660059
3.  Molecular Lipids Identify Cardiovascular Risk and Are Efficiently Lowered by Simvastatin and PCSK9 Deficiency 
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is among the leading causes of mortality and morbidity worldwide. Traditional risk markers explain only a proportion of total cardiovascular risk. Thus, development and improvement of early diagnostic strategies and targeted initiation of preventive measures would be of great benefit.
We aimed to identify molecular lipids that are associated with fatal outcome of CAD patients. Furthermore, the effect of different lipid-lowering drugs on novel risk lipids was evaluated.
Serum samples of 445 CAD subjects participating in a long-term follow-up of the Ludwigshafen Risk and Cardiovascular Health (LURIC) study were analyzed. In addition, samples obtained from a separate randomized parallel three-group study of subjects treated with simvastatin (n = 24), ezetimibe (n = 24), or their combination (n = 24) were studied. Furthermore, samples from the LURIC participants with a loss-of-function mutation (R46L) in the PCSK9 gene (n = 19) were analyzed and compared with major allele carriers (n = 868).
Distinct ceramide species were significantly associated with the fatal outcome of CAD patients. Simvastatin lowered plasma ceramides broadly by about 25%, but no changes in ceramides were observed in the ezetimibe group. PCSK9 deficiency was significantly associated (−13%) with lowered low-density lipoprotein cholesterol accompanied by a significant 20% reduction in CAD outcome risk-related ceramides.
These data suggest that distinct ceramides associate significantly with CAD outcome independently of traditional risk factors and that the mechanism of lipid lowering is important.
PMCID: PMC3928964  PMID: 24243630
4.  Circulating Levels of 25Hydroxy-Vitamin D and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies 
Vitamin D status has been linked to the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, the optimal 25hydroxy-vitamin D (25(OH)-vitamin D) levels for potential cardiovascular health benefits remain unclear.
Methods and Results
We searched MEDLINE and EMBASE from 1966 through February 2012 for prospective studies that assessed the association of 25(OH)-vitamin D concentrations with CVD risk. A total of 24 articles met our inclusion criteria, from which 19 independent studies with 6,123 CVD cases in 65,994 participants were included for a meta-analysis. Comparing the lowest to the highest 25(OH)-vitamin D categories, the pooled relative risks (RR) was 1.52 (95% CI: 1.30-1.77) for total CVD, 1.42 (95% CI: 1.19-1.71) for CVD mortality, 1.38 (95% CI: 1.21-1.57) for coronary heart disease, and 1.64 (95% CI: 1.27-2.10) for stroke. These associations remained strong and significant when analyses were limited to studies that excluded participants with baseline CVD and had better controlled for season and confounding. We used a fractional polynomial spline regression analysis to assess the linearity of dose-response association between continuous 25(OH)-vitamin D and CVD risk. The CVD risk increased monotonically across decreasing 25(OH)-vitamin D below approximately 60 nmol/L, with a RR of 1.03 (95% CI: 1.00-1.06) per 25 nmol/L decrement in 25(OH)-vitamin D.
This meta-analysis demonstrated a generally linear, inverse association between circulating 25(OH)-vitamin D in the range of 20-60 nmol/L and risk of CVD. Further research is needed to clarify the association of 25(OH)-vitamin D higher than 60 nmol/L with CVD risk and assess causality of the observed associations.
PMCID: PMC3510675  PMID: 23149428
25hydroxy-vitamin D; cardiovascular disease; meta-analysis; prospective study
5.  A mutation in the c-Fos gene associated with congenital generalized lipodystrophy 
Congenital generalized lipodystrophy (CGL) or Berardinelli–Seip congenital lipodystrophy (BSCL) is a rare genetic syndrome characterized by the absence of adipose tissue. As CGL is thought to be related to malfunctions in adipocyte development, genes involved in the mechanisms of adipocyte biology and maintenance or differentiation of adipocytes, especially transcription factors are candidates. Several genes (BSCL1-4) were found to be associated to the syndrome but not all CGL patients carry mutations in these genes.
Methods and results
In a patient with CGL and insulin resistance we investigated the known candidate genes but the patient did not carry a relevant mutation. Analyses of the insulin activated signal transduction pathways in isolated fibroblasts of the patient revealed a postreceptor defect altering expression of the immediate early gene c-fos. Sequence analyses revealed a novel homozygous point mutation (c.–439, T→A) in the patients’ c-fos promoter. The point mutation was located upstream of the well characterized promoter elements in a region with no homology to any known cis-elements. The identified mutation was not detected in a total of n=319 non lipodystrophic probands. In vitro analyses revealed that the mutation facilitates the formation of a novel and specific protein/DNA complex. Using mass spectrometry we identified the proteins of this novel complex. Cellular investigations demonstrate that the wild type c-fos promoter can reconstitute the signaling defect in the patient, excluding further upstream signaling alterations, and vice versa the investigations with the c-fos promoter containing the identified mutation generally reduce basal and inducible c-fos transcription activity. As a consequence of the identified point mutation gene expression including c-Fos targeted genes is significantly altered, shown exemplified in cells of the patient.
The immediate-early gene c-fos is one essential transcription factor to initiate adipocyte differentiation. According to the role of c-fos in adipocyte differentiation our findings of a mutation that initiates a repression mechanism at c-fos promoter features the hypothesis that diminished c-fos expression might play a role in CGL by interfering with adipocyte development.
PMCID: PMC3750569  PMID: 23919306
Congenital lipodystrophy; Immediate early genes; Protein/DNA interaction; Transcriptional regulation
6.  Circulating Dopamine and C-Peptide Levels in Fasting Nondiabetic Hypertensive Patients 
Diabetes Care  2012;35(8):1771-1773.
Accumulating evidence supports a potential role for dopamine in the regulation of insulin secretion. We examined the association between circulating dopamine and C-peptide concentrations using data from the Graz Endocrine Causes of Hypertension (GECOH) study.
After 12 h of fasting, we measured plasma dopamine and serum C-peptide levels and established determining factors of insulin secretion in 201 nondiabetic hypertensive patients (mean age 48.1 ± 16.0 years; 61.7% women).
Mean dopamine and C-peptide concentration were 33.4 ± 38.6 pg/mL and 3.1 ± 2.7 ng/mL, respectively. A strong and inverse correlation was observed between dopamine and C-peptide levels (r = −0.423, P < 0.001). There was no significant relationship between C-peptide, plasma epinephrine, and norepinephrine. C-peptide levels decreased steadily and significantly from tertile 1 of dopamine (3.6 ng/mL [95% CI 2.9–4.1]) to tertile 3 (1.6 ng/mL [1.5–2.7], P < 0.001) after multivariate adjustment.
The inverse association between dopamine and C-peptide highlights the need to evaluate whether dopamine could be effective for modulating endocrine pancreatic function.
PMCID: PMC3402263  PMID: 22699284
7.  Homoarginine and Progression of Chronic Kidney Disease: Results from the Mild to Moderate Kidney Disease Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63560.
Homoarginine is an amino acid derivative mainly synthesized in the kidney. It is suggested to increase nitric oxide availability, enhance endothelial function and to protect against cardiovascular diseases. We aimed to investigate the relation between homoarginine, kidney function and progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD).
We measured plasma homoarginine concentrations in baseline samples of the Mild to Moderate Kidney Disease (MMKD) Study, a prospective cohort study of 227 patients with CKD in Europe. Homoarginine concentrations were available in 182 of the baseline samples and in 139 of the prospectively-followed patients. We correlated homoarginine concentrations to parameters of kidney function. The association between homoarginine and progression of CKD was assessed during a follow-up of up to seven years (median 4.45 years, interquartile range 2.54–5.19) using Cox regression analysis. Progression of CKD was defined as doubling of baseline serum creatinine and/or end-stage renal disease.
Study participants were at baseline on average 47±13 years old and 65% were male. Mean±standard deviation of homoarginine concentrations were 2.5±1.1 µmol/L and concentrations were incrementally lower at lower levels of GFR with mean concentrations of 2.90±1.02 µmol/L (GFR>90 ml/min), 2.64±1.06 µmol/L (GFR 60–90 ml/min), 2.52±1.24 µmol/L (GFR 30–60 ml/min) and 2.05±0.78 µmol/L (GFR<30 ml/min), respectively (p = 0.002). The age- and sex-adjusted risk to reach the renal endpoint was significantly higher by 62% with each decrease by one standard deviation (1.1 µmol/L) of homoarginine (HR 1.62, 95% CI 1.16–2.27, p = 0.005). This association was independent of proteinuria (HR 1.56, 95% CI 1.11–2.20, p = 0.01), and was slightly attenuated when adjusting for GFR (HR 1.40 (95% CI 0.98–1.98, p = 0.06).
Homoarginine concentrations are directly correlated with kidney function and are significantly associated with the progression of CKD. Low homoarginine concentrations might be an early indicator of kidney failure and a potential target for the prevention of disease progression which needs further investigations.
PMCID: PMC3655120  PMID: 23691067
8.  Vitamin D Levels Predict All-Cause and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality in Subjects With the Metabolic Syndrome 
Diabetes Care  2012;35(5):1158-1164.
Optimal vitamin D levels are associated with reduced cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. We investigated whether optimal 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) is protective in individuals with the metabolic syndrome.
The Ludwigshafen Risk and Cardiovascular Health (LURIC) study is a cohort study of subjects referred for coronary angiography between 1997 and 2000, from which 1,801 with the metabolic syndrome were investigated. Mortality was tracked for a median of 7.7 years. Multivariable survival analysis was used to estimate the association between 25(OH)D levels and mortality.
Most subjects (92%) had suboptimal levels of 25(OH)D (<75 nmol/L), with 22.2% being severely deficient (<25 nmol/L). During follow-up, 462 deaths were recorded, 267 (57.8%) of which were cardiovascular in origin. After full adjustment, including the metabolic syndrome components, those with optimal 25(OH)D levels showed a substantial reduction in all-cause (hazard ratio [HR] 0.25 [95% CI 0.13–0.46]) and cardiovascular disease mortality (0.33 [0.16–0.66]) compared with those with severe vitamin D deficiency. For specific cardiovascular disease mortality, there was a strong reduction for sudden death (0.15 [0.04–0.63]) and congestive heart failure (0.24 [0.06–1.04]), but not for myocardial infarction. The reduction in mortality was dose-dependent for each of these causes.
Optimal 25(OH)D levels substantially lowered all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality in subjects with the metabolic syndrome. These observations call for interventional studies that test whether vitamin D supplementation provides a useful adjunct in reducing mortality in these subjects.
PMCID: PMC3329808  PMID: 22399697
10.  Eight genetic loci associated with variation in lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 mass and activity and coronary heart disease: meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies from five community-based studies 
European Heart Journal  2011;33(2):238-251.
Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2) generates proinflammatory and proatherogenic compounds in the arterial vascular wall and is a potential therapeutic target in coronary heart disease (CHD). We searched for genetic loci related to Lp-PLA2 mass or activity by a genome-wide association study as part of the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) Consortium.
Methods and results
In meta-analyses of findings from five population-based studies, comprising 13 664 subjects, variants at two loci (PLA2G7, CETP) were associated with Lp-PLA2 mass. The strongest signal was at rs1805017 in PLA2G7 [P = 2.4 × 10−23, log Lp-PLA2 difference per allele (beta): 0.043]. Variants at six loci were associated with Lp-PLA2 activity (PLA2G7, APOC1, CELSR2, LDL, ZNF259, SCARB1), among which the strongest signals were at rs4420638, near the APOE–APOC1–APOC4–APOC2 cluster [P = 4.9 × 10−30; log Lp-PLA2 difference per allele (beta): −0.054]. There were no significant gene–environment interactions between these eight polymorphisms associated with Lp-PLA2 mass or activity and age, sex, body mass index, or smoking status. Four of the polymorphisms (in APOC1, CELSR2, SCARB1, ZNF259), but not PLA2G7, were significantly associated with CHD in a second study.
Levels of Lp-PLA2 mass and activity were associated with PLA2G7, the gene coding for this protein. Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 activity was also strongly associated with genetic variants related to low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.
PMCID: PMC3258449  PMID: 22003152
Genome-wide association; Inflammation; Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2
11.  Changes in the Prevalence, Treatment and Control of Hypertension in Germany? A Clinical-Epidemiological Study of 50.000 Primary Care Patients 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52229.
Medical societies have developed guidelines for the detection, treatment and control of hypertension (HTN). Our analysis assessed the extent to which such guidelines were implemented in Germany in 2003 and 2001.
Using standardized clinical diagnostic and treatment appraisal forms, blood pressure levels and patient questionnaires for 55,518 participants from the cross-sectional Targets and Essential Data for Commitment of Treatment (DETECT) study (2003) were analyzed. Physician’s diagnosis of hypertension (HTNdoc) was defined as coding hypertension in the clinical appraisal questionnaire. Alternative definitions used were physician’s diagnosis or the patient’s self-reported diagnosis of hypertension (HTNdoc,pat), physician’s or patient’s self-reported diagnosis or a BP measurement with a systolic BP≥140 mmHg and/or a diastolic BP≥90 (HTNdoc,pat,bp) and diagnosis according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (HTNNHANES). The results were compared with the similar German HYDRA study to examine whether changes had occurred in diagnosis, treatment and adequate blood pressure control (BP below 140/90 mmHg) since 2001. Factors associated with pharmacotherapy and control were determined.
The overall prevalence rate for hypertension was 35.5% according to HTNdoc and 56.0% according to NHANES criteria. Among those defined by NHANES criteria, treatment and control rates were 56.0% and 20.3% in 2003, and these rates had improved from 55.3% and 18.0% in 2001. Significant predictors of receiving antihypertensive medication were: increasing age, female sex, obesity, previous myocardial infarction and the prevalence of comorbid conditions such as coronary heart disease (CHD), hyperlipidemia and diabetes mellitus (DM). Significant positive predictors of adequate blood pressure control were CHD and antihypertensive medication. Inadequate control was associated with increasing age, male sex and obesity.
Rates of treated and controlled hypertension according to NHANES criteria in DETECT remained low between 2001 and 2003, although there was some minor improvement.
PMCID: PMC3532113  PMID: 23284945
12.  A Variant In the Abo Gene Explains the Variation in Soluble E-Selectin Levels—Results from Dense Genotyping in Two Independent Populations 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51441.
Elevated soluble (s) E-selectin levels have been associated with various cardiovascular diseases. Recently, genetic variants in the ABO blood group have been related to E-selectin levels in a small cohort of patients with type 1 diabetes. We evaluated whether this association is reproducible in two large samples of Caucasians.
Methodology/ Principal Findings
Data of the present study was drawn from the population-based MONICA/KORA Augsburg study (n = 1,482) and the patients-based LURIC study (n = 1,546). A high-density genotyping array (50K IBC Chip) containing single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from E-selectin candidate genes selected on known biology of E-selectin metabolism, mouse genetic studies, and human genetic association studies, was used for genotyping. Linear regression analyses with adjustment for age and sex (and survey in KORA) were applied to assess associations between gene variants and sE-selectin concentrations. A number of 12 SNPs (in KORA) and 13 SNPs (in LURIC), all from the ABO blood group gene, were significantly associated with the log-transformed concentration of E-selectin. The strongest association was observed for rs651007 with a change of log-transformed sE-selectin per one copy of the minor allele of −0.37 ng/ml (p = 1.87×10−103) in KORA and −0.35 ng/ml (p = 5.11×10−84) in LURIC. Inclusion of rs651007 increased the explained sE-selectin variance by 0.256 in KORA and 0.213 in LURIC. All SNPs had minor allele frequencies above 20% showing a substantial gene variation.
Conclusions/ Significance
Our findings in two independent samples indicate that the genetic variants at the ABO locus affect sE-selectin levels. Since distinct genome-wide association studies linked the ABO gene with myocardial infarction (MI) in the presence of coronary atherosclerosis and with coronary artery disease, these findings may not only enhance our understanding of adhesion molecule biology, but may also provide a focus for several novel research avenues.
PMCID: PMC3532506  PMID: 23300549
13.  Aldosterone and cortisol affect the risk of sudden cardiac death in haemodialysis patients 
European Heart Journal  2012;34(8):578-587.
Sudden cardiac death is common and accounts largely for the excess mortality of patients on maintenance dialysis. It is unknown whether aldosterone and cortisol increase the incidence of sudden cardiac death in dialysis patients.
Methods and results
We analysed data from 1255 diabetic haemodialysis patients participating in the German Diabetes and Dialysis Study (4D Study). Categories of aldosterone and cortisol were determined at baseline and patients were followed for a median of 4 years. By Cox regression analyses, hazard ratios (HRs) were determined for the effect of aldosterone, cortisol, and their combination on sudden death and other adjudicated cardiovascular outcomes. The mean age of the patients was 66 ± 8 years (54% male). Median aldosterone was <15 pg/mL (detection limit) and cortisol 16.8 µg/dL. Patients with aldosterone levels >200 pg/mL had a significantly higher risk of sudden death (HR: 1.69; 95% CI: 1.06–2.69) compared with those with an aldosterone <15 pg/mL. The combined presence of high aldosterone (>200 pg/mL) and high cortisol (>21.1 µg/dL) levels increased the risk of sudden death in striking contrast to patients with low aldosterone (<15 pg/mL) and low cortisol (<13.2 µg/dL) levels (HR: 2.86, 95% CI: 1.32–6.21). Furthermore, all-cause mortality was significantly increased in the patients with high levels of both hormones (HR: 1.62, 95% CI: 1.01–2.62).
The joint presence of high aldosterone and high cortisol levels is strongly associated with sudden cardiac death as well as all-cause mortality in haemodialysed type 2 diabetic patients. Whether a blockade of the mineralocorticoid receptor decreases the risk of sudden death in these patients must be examined in future trials.
PMCID: PMC3578266  PMID: 23211232
Aldosterone; Cortisol; Sudden cardiac death; Cardiovascular events; Mortality; Kidney disease
14.  Additional Use of Glycated Hemoglobin for Diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes in People Undergoing Coronary Angiography Reveals a Subgroup at Increased Cardiovascular Risk 
Diabetes Care  2011;34(11):2471-2473.
To study the prognosis of people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes as per the American Diabetes Association (ADA) 2010 definition but without diabetes as per the ADA 2009 definition.
A total of 2,002 participants of the Ludwigshafen Risk and Cardiovascular Health (LURIC) study without a history of diabetes were studied.
During the follow-up of a mean duration ± SD of 7.7 ± 2.0 years, 346 people died (202 cardiovascular deaths). Subjects with type 2 diabetes as per the ADA 2009 definition (n = 468) had significantly increased all-cause and cardiovascular mortality compared with people without diabetes as per the ADA 2010 definition (both P ≤ 0.003). Subjects with type 2 diabetes as per the ADA 2010 definition but without diabetes as per the ADA 2009 definition (n = 150) were at significantly increased risk to die of cardiovascular diseases (P = 0.029).
Use of the ADA 2010 diabetes definition may be instrumental in improving cardiovascular risk stratification in people undergoing coronary angiography.
PMCID: PMC3198301  PMID: 21911772
15.  Low Free Testosterone Levels Are Associated With All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality in Postmenopausal Diabetic Women 
Diabetes Care  2011;34(8):1771-1777.
Hyperandrogenemia is associated with cardiovascular risk factors in women but evidence about the relationship of testosterone levels with mortality is sparse. We aimed to evaluate whether total testosterone (TT), free testosterone (FT), and sex hormone–binding globulin (SHBG) are associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in a cohort of postmenopausal women.
We measured TT and SHBG levels in 875 postmenopausal women who were referred for coronary angiography (during 1997–2000). FT was calculated according to the Vermeulen method. The main outcome measures were Cox proportional hazard ratios (HRs) for mortality from all causes and from cardiovascular causes.
After a median follow-up time of 7.7 years, 179 women (20.5%) had died. There were 101 deaths due to cardiovascular disease (56.4% of all deaths). We found no association of FT, TT, and SHBG levels with mortality in all postmenopausal women. In postmenopausal diabetic women, multivariable-adjusted HRs (with 95% CIs) in the fourth compared with the first FT quartile for all-cause and cardiovascular mortality were 0.38 (0.08–0.90), P = 0.025, and 0.28 (0.08–0.90), P = 0.032, respectively. We found no association of TT and SHBG with mortality in diabetic postmenopausal women.
In postmenopausal diabetic women referred for coronary angiography, low FT levels are independently associated with increased all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.
PMCID: PMC3142041  PMID: 21715525
16.  Glycated Hemoglobin Predicts All-Cause, Cardiovascular, and Cancer Mortality in People Without a History of Diabetes Undergoing Coronary Angiography 
Diabetes Care  2011;34(6):1355-1361.
Glycated hemoglobin has been suggested to be superior to fasting glucose for the prediction of vascular disease and death from any cause. The aim of the present work was to analyze and compare the predictive value of glycated hemoglobin and fasting glucose on all-cause and cause-specific mortality in subjects who underwent coronary angiography.
We studied 2,686 participants of the Ludwigshafen Risk and Cardiovascular health study without a history of diabetes. The majority of this cohort had coronary artery disease. Glycated hemoglobin was measured at the baseline examination. The mean (± SD) duration of the follow-up for all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality was 7.54 ± 2.1 years.
A total of 508 deaths occurred during the follow-up. Of those, 299 were accounted for by cardiovascular diseases and 79 by cancer. Baseline glycated hemoglobin was predictive of all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality. The multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios (HR) (95% CI) for glycated hemoglobin values of <5.0, 5.0–5.4, 5.5–5.9, 6.0–6.4, 6.5–7.4, and ≥7.5% for all-cause mortality were 1.36 (0.85–2.18), 1.00 (0.76–1.32), 1.00 (reference), 1.11 (0.88–1.41), 1.39 (1.07–1.82), and 2.15 (1.32–3.53), respectively. Similar J-shaped relationships were found between glycated hemoglobin and cardiovascular and cancer mortality. The associations of glycated hemoglobin with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality remained significant after inclusion of fasting glucose as a covariate. However, fasting glucose was not significantly related to mortality when adjusting for glycated hemoglobin.
Glycated hemoglobin significantly and independently of fasting glucose predicts all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in whites at intermediate to high cardiovascular risk.
PMCID: PMC3114349  PMID: 21515847
17.  Plant sterols and cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis† 
European Heart Journal  2012;33(4):444-451.
The impact of increased serum concentrations of plant sterols on cardiovascular risk is unclear. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to investigate whether there is an association between serum concentrations of two common plant sterols (sitosterol, campesterol) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). We systematically searched the databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, and COCHRANE for studies published between January 1950 and April 2010 that reported either risk ratios (RR) of CVD in relation to serum sterol concentrations (either absolute or expressed as ratios relative to total cholesterol) or serum sterol concentrations in CVD cases and controls separately. We conducted two meta-analyses, one based on RR of CVD contrasting the upper vs. the lower third of the sterol distribution, and another based on standardized mean differences between CVD cases and controls. Summary estimates were derived by fixed and random effects meta-analysis techniques. We identified 17 studies using different designs (four case–control, five nested case–control, three cohort, five cross-sectional) involving 11 182 participants. Eight studies reported RR of CVD and 15 studies reported serum concentrations in CVD cases and controls. Funnel plots showed evidence for publication bias indicating small unpublished studies with non-significant findings. Neither of our meta-analyses suggested any relationship between serum concentrations of sitosterol and campesterol (both absolute concentrations and ratios to cholesterol) and risk of CVD. Our systematic review and meta-analysis did not reveal any evidence of an association between serum concentrations of plant sterols and risk of CVD.
PMCID: PMC3279314  PMID: 22334625
Plant sterols; Phytosterols; LDL-C; Cardiovascular disease; Coronary heart disease
18.  Investigation of 95 variants identified in a genome-wide study for association with mortality after acute coronary syndrome 
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:127.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified new candidate genes for the occurrence of acute coronary syndrome (ACS), but possible effects of such genes on survival following ACS have yet to be investigated.
We examined 95 polymorphisms in 69 distinct gene regions identified in a GWAS for premature myocardial infarction for their association with post-ACS mortality among 811 whites recruited from university-affiliated hospitals in Kansas City, Missouri. We then sought replication of a positive genetic association in a large, racially diverse cohort of myocardial infarction patients (N = 2284) using Kaplan-Meier survival analyses and Cox regression to adjust for relevant covariates. Finally, we investigated the apparent association further in 6086 additional coronary artery disease patients.
After Cox adjustment for other ACS risk factors, of 95 SNPs tested in 811 whites only the association with the rs6922269 in MTHFD1L was statistically significant, with a 2.6-fold mortality hazard (P = 0.007). The recessive A/A genotype was of borderline significance in an age- and race-adjusted analysis of the entire combined cohort (N = 3095; P = 0.052), but this finding was not confirmed in independent cohorts (N = 6086).
We found no support for the hypothesis that the GWAS-identified variants in this study substantially alter the probability of post-ACS survival. Large-scale, collaborative, genome-wide studies may be required in order to detect genetic variants that are robustly associated with survival in patients with coronary artery disease.
PMCID: PMC3190329  PMID: 21957892
19.  Homoarginine, heart failure, and sudden cardiac death in haemodialysis patients 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2011;13(8):852-859.
Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is a major contributor to the excess mortality of patients on maintenance dialysis. Homoarginine deficiency may lead to decreased nitric oxide availability and endothelial dysfunction. Based on this rationale we assessed whether homoarginine deficiency is a risk factor for SCD in dialysis patients.
Methods and results
This study examined the association of homoarginine with cardiovascular outcomes in 1255 diabetic haemodialysis patients from the German diabetes and dialysis study. During a median of 4 years of follow-up, hazard ratios (HR) (95% CI) for reaching the following pre-specified, adjudicated endpoints were determined: SCD, myocardial infarction, stroke, death due to heart failure, and combined cardiovascular events. There was a strong association of low homoarginine concentrations with the presence of congestive heart failure and left ventricular hypertrophy as well as increased levels of brain natriuretic peptide. Per unit decrease in homoarginine, the risk of SCD increased three-fold (HR 3.1, 95% CI 2.0–4.9), attenuating slightly in multivariate models (HR 2.4; 95% CI 1.5–3.9). Patients in the lowest homoarginine quintile experienced a more than two-fold increased risk of SCD, and more than three-fold increased risk of heart failure death than patients in the highest quintile, which accounted for the high incidence of combined cardiovascular events. Low homoarginine showed a trend towards increased risk of stroke, however, myocardial infarction was not meaningfully affected.
Low homoarginine is a strong risk factor for SCD and death due to heart failure in haemodialysis patients. Further studies are needed to elucidate the underlying mechanisms, offering the potential to develop new interventional strategies.
PMCID: PMC3143829  PMID: 21791541
Homoarginine; Sudden cardiac death; Heart failure; Amino acids; Haemodialysis
20.  Design of the Coronary ARtery DIsease Genome-Wide Replication And Meta-Analysis (CARDIoGRAM) Study 
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of myocardial infarction (MI) and other forms of coronary artery disease (CAD) have led to the discovery of at least 13 genetic loci. In addition to the effect size, power to detect associations is largely driven by sample size. Therefore, to maximize the chance of finding novel susceptibility loci for CAD and MI, the Coronary ARtery DIsease Genome-wide Replication And Meta-analysis (CARDIoGRAM) consortium was formed.
Methods and Results
CARDIoGRAM combines data from all published and several unpublished GWAS in individuals with European ancestry; includes >22 000 cases with CAD, MI, or both and >60 000 controls; and unifies samples from the Atherosclerotic Disease VAscular functioN and genetiC Epidemiology study, CADomics, Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology, deCODE, the German Myocardial Infarction Family Studies I, II, and III, Ludwigshafen Risk and Cardiovascular Heath Study/AtheroRemo, MedStar, Myocardial Infarction Genetics Consortium, Ottawa Heart Genomics Study, PennCath, and the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium. Genotyping was carried out on Affymetrix or Illumina platforms followed by imputation of genotypes in most studies. On average, 2.2 million single nucleotide polymorphisms were generated per study. The results from each study are combined using meta-analysis. As proof of principle, we meta-analyzed risk variants at 9p21 and found that rs1333049 confers a 29% increase in risk for MI per copy (P=2×10−20).
CARDIoGRAM is poised to contribute to our understanding of the role of common genetic variation on risk for CAD and MI.
PMCID: PMC3070269  PMID: 20923989
coronary artery disease; myocardial infarction; meta-analysis; genetics
21.  Genome-Wide Association Study Identifies Two Novel Regions at 11p15.5-p13 and 1p31 with Major Impact on Acute-Phase Serum Amyloid A 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(11):e1001213.
Elevated levels of acute-phase serum amyloid A (A-SAA) cause amyloidosis and are a risk factor for atherosclerosis and its clinical complications, type 2 diabetes, as well as various malignancies. To investigate the genetic basis of A-SAA levels, we conducted the first genome-wide association study on baseline A-SAA concentrations in three population-based studies (KORA, TwinsUK, Sorbs) and one prospective case cohort study (LURIC), including a total of 4,212 participants of European descent, and identified two novel genetic susceptibility regions at 11p15.5-p13 and 1p31. The region at 11p15.5-p13 (rs4150642; p = 3.20×10−111) contains serum amyloid A1 (SAA1) and the adjacent general transcription factor 2 H1 (GTF2H1), Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome 5 (HPS5), lactate dehydrogenase A (LDHA), and lactate dehydrogenase C (LDHC). This region explains 10.84% of the total variation of A-SAA levels in our data, which makes up 18.37% of the total estimated heritability. The second region encloses the leptin receptor (LEPR) gene at 1p31 (rs12753193; p = 1.22×10−11) and has been found to be associated with CRP and fibrinogen in previous studies. Our findings demonstrate a key role of the 11p15.5-p13 region in the regulation of baseline A-SAA levels and provide confirmative evidence of the importance of the 1p31 region for inflammatory processes and the close interplay between A-SAA, leptin, and other acute-phase proteins.
Author Summary
An elevated level of acute-phase serum amyloid A (A-SAA), a sensitive marker of the acute inflammatory state with high heritability estimates, causes amyloidosis and is a risk factor for atherosclerosis and its clinical complications, type 2 diabetes, as well as various malignancies. This study describes the first genome-wide association study on baseline A-SAA concentrations. In a meta-analysis of four genome-wide scans totalling 4,212 participants of European descent, we identified two novel genetic susceptibility regions on chromosomes 11 and 1 to be associated with baseline A-SAA concentrations. The chromosome 11 region contains the serum amyloid A1 gene and the adjacent genes and explains a high percentage of the total estimated heritability. The chromosome 1 region is a known genetic susceptibility region for inflammation. Taken together, we identified one region, which seems to be of key importance in the regulation of A-SAA levels and represents a novel potential target for the investigation of related clinical entities. In addition, our findings indicate a close interplay between A-SAA and other inflammatory proteins, as well as a larger role of a known genetic susceptibility region for inflammatory processes as it has been assumed in the past.
PMCID: PMC2987930  PMID: 21124955
22.  Effect of the rs2259816 polymorphism in the HNF1A gene on circulating levels of c-reactive protein and coronary artery disease (the ludwigshafen risk and cardiovascular health study) 
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:157.
C-reactive protein is a well established marker of inflammation and has been used to predict future cardiovascular disease. It is still controversial if it plays an active role in the development of cardiovascular disease. Recently, polymorphisms in the gene for HNF1α have been linked to the levels of C-reactive protein and coronary artery disease.
We investigated the association of the rs2259816 polymorphism in the HNF1A gene with the circulating level of C-reactive protein and the hazard of coronary artery disease in the LURIC Study cohort.
Compared to CC homozygotes, the level of C-reactive protein was decreased in carriers of at least one A-allele. Each A-allele decreased CRP by approximately 15%. The odds ratio for coronary artery disease was only very slightly increased in carriers of the A-allele and this association did not reach statistical significance.
In the LURIC Study cohort the A-allele of rs2259816 is associated with decreased CRP but not with coronary artery disease.
PMCID: PMC2994837  PMID: 21062467
23.  Cholesteryl ester transfer protein and mortality in patients undergoing coronary angiography 
Circulation  2010;121(3):366-374.
The role of cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) in the development of atherosclerosis is still open to debate. In the ILLUMINATE trial inhibition of CETP in patients with high cardiovascular risk was associated with increased high density lipoprotein levels but increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Here, we present a prospective observational study of patients referred to coronary angiography in which CETP was examined in relation to morbidity and mortality.
Methods and Results
CETP concentration was determined in 3256 participants of the Ludwigshafen Risk and Cardiovascular Health (LURIC) study who were referred to coronary angiography at baseline between 1997 and 2000. Median follow-up time was 7.75 years. Primary and secondary endpoints were cardiovascular and all-cause mortality, respectively. CETP levels were higher in women and lower in smokers, in diabetic patients, and in patients with unstable coronary artery disease (CAD), respectively. In addition, CETP levels were correlated negatively with high-sensitivity C-reactive protein and IL-6. After adjustment for age, sex, medication, CAD status, cardiovascular risk factors, and diabetes mellitus, the hazard ratio for death in the lowest CETP quartile was 1.33 (1.07-1.65, p=0.011) compared to patients in the highest CETP quartile. Corresponding hazard ratios for death in the second and third CETP quartile were 1.17 (0.92-1.48, p=0.19) and 1.10 (0.86-1.39, p=0.46), respectively.
We interpret our data to suggest that low endogenous CETP plasma levels per se are associated with increased cardiovascular and all-cause mortality challenging the rationale of pharmacological CETP inhibition.
PMCID: PMC2964596  PMID: 20065167
atherosclerosis; lipoproteins; mortality; coronary disease; risk factors
24.  Vitamin D deficiency is associated with sudden cardiac death, combined cardiovascular events, and mortality in haemodialysis patients 
European Heart Journal  2010;31(18):2253-2261.
Dialysis patients experience an excess mortality, predominantly of sudden cardiac death (SCD). Accumulating evidence suggests a role of vitamin D for myocardial and overall health. This study investigated the impact of vitamin D status on cardiovascular outcomes and fatal infections in haemodialysis patients.
Methods and results
25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] was measured in 1108 diabetic haemodialysis patients who participated in the German Diabetes and Dialysis Study and were followed up for a median of 4 years. By Cox regression analyses, we determined hazard ratios (HR) for pre-specified, adjudicated endpoints according to baseline 25(OH)D levels: SCD (n = 146), myocardial infarction (MI, n = 174), stroke (n = 89), cardiovascular events (CVE, n = 414), death due to heart failure (n = 37), fatal infection (n = 111), and all-cause mortality (n = 545). Patients had a mean age of 66 ± 8 years (54% male) and median 25(OH)D of 39 nmol/L (interquartile range: 28–55). Patients with severe vitamin D deficiency [25(OH)D of≤ 25 nmol/L] had a 3-fold higher risk of SCD compared with those with sufficient 25(OH)D levels >75 nmol/L [HR: 2.99, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.39–6.40]. Furthermore, CVE and all-cause mortality were strongly increased (HR: 1.78, 95% CI: 1.18–2.69, and HR: 1.74, 95% CI: 1.22–2.47, respectively), all persisting in multivariate models. There were borderline non-significant associations with stroke and fatal infection while MI and deaths due to heart failure were not meaningfully affected.
Severe vitamin D deficiency was strongly associated with SCD, CVE, and mortality, and there were borderline associations with stroke and fatal infection. Whether vitamin D supplementation decreases adverse outcomes requires further evaluation.
PMCID: PMC2938469  PMID: 20688781
Vitamin D; Sudden cardiac death; Mortality; Dialysis; Kidney; Cardiovascular
25.  Lymphocytes of Type 2 Diabetic Women Carry a High Load of Stable Chromosomal Aberrations  
Diabetes  2008;57(11):2950-2957.
OBJECTIVE—Diabetes is associated with an increased risk of death in women. Oxidative stress due to chronic hyperglycemia leads to the generation of reactive oxygen species and loss of chromosomal integrity. To clarify whether diabetes is a premature aging syndrome, we determined telomere erosion dynamics and occurrence of structural chromosomal aberrations in women of the Ludwigshafen Risk and Cardiovascular Health (LURIC) Study.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—Telomere lengths and karyotypes were examined in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Regarding these parameters, surviving and deceased type 2 diabetic women of the LURIC study were compared with nondiabetic LURIC women with or without coronary heart disease and with healthy female control subjects.
RESULTS—Significantly enhanced telomere attrition was seen in all LURIC subjects compared with healthy control subjects. Although the average telomere-length loss is equivalent to well >10 years of healthy aging, telomere erosion was not associated with outcome within the LURIC cohort. However, strikingly high numbers of stable chromosomal aberrations were found in type 2 diabetic women but not in LURIC disease control subjects or in healthy individuals. Furthermore, within the younger age- groups, deceased type 2 diabetes patients had significantly more marker chromosomes than the surviving type 2 diabetic patients.
CONCLUSIONS—All women at high risk for cardiovascular death have accelerated telomere erosion, not caused by type 2 diabetes per se but likely linked to other risk factors, including dyslipidemia. By contrast, the occurrence of marker chromosomes is associated with type 2 diabetes and is a novel risk factor for type 2 diabetes–related early death.
PMCID: PMC2570391  PMID: 18650367

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