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1.  Racial variation in lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 in older adults 
Background
Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2) is a predictor of cardiovascular events that has been shown to vary with race. The objective of this study was to examine factors associated with this racial variation.
Methods
We measured Lp-PLA2 mass and activity in 714 healthy older adults with no clinical coronary heart disease and not taking dyslipidemia medication. We evaluated the association between race and Lp-PLA2 mass and activity levels after adjustment for various covariates using multivariable linear regression. These covariates included age, sex, diabetes, hypertension, body mass index, lipid measurements, C-reactive protein, smoking status, physical activity, diet, income, and education level. We further examined genetic covariates that included three single nucleotide polymorphisms shown to be associated with Lp-PLA2 activity levels.
Results
The mean age was 66 years. Whites had the highest Lp-PLA2 mass and activity levels, followed by Hispanics and Asians, and then African-Americans; in age and sex adjusted analyses, these differences were significant for each non-White race as compared to Whites (p < 0.0001). For example, African-Americans were predicted to have a 55.0 ng/ml lower Lp-PLA2 mass and 24.7 nmol/ml-min lower activity, compared with Whites, independent of age and sex (p < 0.0001). After adjustment for all covariates, race remained significantly correlated with Lp-PLA2 mass and activity levels (p < 0.001) with African-Americans having 44.8 ng/ml lower Lp-PLA2 mass and 17.3 nmol/ml-min lower activity compared with Whites (p < 0.0001).
Conclusion
Biological, lifestyle, demographic, and select genetic factors do not appear to explain variations in Lp-PLA2 mass and activity levels between Whites and non-Whites, suggesting that Lp-PLA2 mass and activity levels may need to be interpreted differently for various races.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-11-38
PMCID: PMC3146402  PMID: 21714927
2.  Circulating Angiopoietins-1 and -2, Angiopoietin Receptor Tie-2 and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor-A as Biomarkers of Acute Myocardial Infarction: a Prospective Nested Case-Control Study 
Background
Angiogenesis is up-regulated in myocardial ischemia. However, limited data exist assessing the value of circulating angiogenic biomarkers in predicting future incidence of acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Our aim was to examine the association between circulating levels of markers of angiogenesis with risk of incident acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in men and women.
Methods
We performed a case-control study (nested within a large cohort of persons receiving care within Kaiser Permanente of Northern California) including 695 AMI cases and 690 controls individually matched on age, gender and race/ethnicity.
Results
Median [inter-quartile range] serum concentrations of vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A; 260 [252] vs. 235 [224] pg/mL; p = 0.01) and angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2; 1.18 [0.66] vs. 1.05 [0.58] ng/mL; p < 0.0001) were significantly higher in AMI cases than in controls. By contrast, endothelium-specific receptor tyrosine kinase (Tie-2; 14.2 [3.7] vs. 14.0 [3.1] ng/mL; p = 0.07) and angiopoietin-1 levels (Ang-1; 33.1 [13.6] vs. 32.5 [12.7] ng/mL; p = 0.52) did not differ significantly by case-control status. After adjustment for educational attainment, hypertension, diabetes, smoking, alcohol consumption, body mass index, LDL-C, HDL-C, triglycerides and C-reactive protein, each increment of 1 unit of Ang-2 as a Z score was associated with 1.17-fold (95 percent confidence interval, 1.02 to 1.35) increased odds of AMI, and the upper quartile of Ang-2, relative to the lowest quartile, was associated with 1.63-fold (95 percent confidence interval, 1.09 to 2.45) increased odds of AMI.
Conclusions
Our data support a role of Ang-2 as a biomarker of incident AMI independent of traditional risk factors.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-11-31
PMCID: PMC3124417  PMID: 21672190
angiogenesis; acute myocardial infarction; epidemiology
3.  Smoking status and common carotid artery intima-medial thickness among middle-aged men and women based on ultrasound measurement: a cohort study 
Background
Cigarette smoking is an established causal factor for atherosclerosis. However, the smoking effect on different echogenic components of carotid arterial wall measured by ultrasound is not well elucidated.
Methods
Middle-aged men and women who had IMT measurement ≥ 0.7 mm at baseline and follow-up were included (N = 413, age 40–60 years at baseline in 1995). Intima-media thickness of common carotid artery (CCA-IMT) and its components (echogenic and echolucent layers) were measured at baseline and in the follow-up examination 3 years later. IMT and its components were compared across current, former and never smokers. Individual growth models were used to examine how smoking status was related to the baseline and progression of overall IMT and IMT components.
Results
For both men and women, current smoking was associated with thicker echogenic layer than never smokers; former smokers exhibited thinner echogenic layer than current smokers after adjustment for cigarette pack-years. Among women, current smoking was also associated with a thinned echolucent layer that resulted in a non-significant overall association of current smoking with IMT for women.
Conclusion
Cigarette smoking is associated with carotid artery morphological changes and the association is sex-dependent. The atherogenic effect of smoking appears to be partly reversible among former smokers. IMT measurement alone may not be adequate to detect carotid atherosclerosis associated with cigarette smoking among middle-age women.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-6-42
PMCID: PMC1634872  PMID: 17067397

Results 1-3 (3)