Circulating Cell Adhesion Molecules Are Correlated With Ultrasound-Based Assessment of Carotid Atherosclerosis

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Abstract

Although cellular adhesion molecules (CAMs) are hypothesized to play an important role in atherogenesis, the relationship between CAMs and systemic atherosclerosis is uncertain. Among 92 outpatients (48 men; mean +/- SD age, 65 +/- 9 years), we evaluated the association of soluble vascular CAM-1 (sVCAM-1) and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1) with carotid intimal-medial thickness (IMT), an index of early atherosclerosis. All subjects underwent a 2-dimensional ultrasound examination of both carotid arteries at the distal common carotid arteries and bifurcation. sVCAM-1 and sICAM-1 levels measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay were significantly correlated with mean IMT of the common carotid artery (r=0.34 and r=0.30, respectively; P<0.01) and carotid bifurcation (r=0.31 and r=0.26, respectively; P<0.05), whereas sVCAM-1 was also positively associated with maximal carotid IMT (r=0.35, P<0.01). Adjustment for age attenuated the association between sVCAM-1 and common (r=0.16, P=0.13) and bifurcation (r=0.18, P=0.07) carotid IMT but had minimal effect on the associations between sICAM-1 and carotid measurements (r=0.32, P<0.01; r=0.23, P<0.05; for common and bifurcation IMT, respectively). Age-adjusted sICAM-1 levels increased in a stepwise fashion across common carotid IMT tertiles (253 +/- 27 versus 275 +/- 24 versus 384 +/- 26 pg/mL for the lowest, intermediate, and highest IMT tertiles, respectively; P<0.01). A similar trend was also found between sVCAM-1 levels and common carotid IMT tertiles (625 +/- 60 versus 650 +/- 53 versus 714 +/- 58 pg/mL; P<0.15). These associations were minimally affected in analyses adjusting for hypertension, diabetes, smoking, low and high density lipoprotein cholesterol, lipoprotein(a), and homocysteine, or in a subgroup analysis limited to those with no prior history of atherothrombotic disease. These data demonstrate a positive association between serum CAMs with carotid IMT and further support the hypothesis that systemic inflammation may have a role in atherosclerotic lesion development. (Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1998;18:1765-1770.)

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