The inflammatory biomarker YKL-40 decreases stepwise after exercise stress test

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Serum YKL-40 is an inflammatory biomarker associated with disease activity and mortality in diseases characterized by inflammation such as coronary artery disease (CAD). Exercise has a positive effect on CAD, possibly mediated by a decreased inflammatory activity. This study aimed to compare serial measurements of serum YKL-40 before and after exercise in patients with stable CAD versus controls.

Materials and methods

Eleven patients with stable CAD verified by coronary angiography (>70% stenosis) and 11 patients with a computer tomography angiography with no stenosis or calcification (calcium score=0) (controls) performed a standard clinical maximal exercise test. Serum YKL-40 was measured before exercise, immediately after exercise, and every hour for 6 h.


Cardiovascular risk factors were more prevalent among the CAD patients compared with the controls. CAD patients had higher serum concentration of YKL-40 at baseline compared with controls, median (interquartile range) 94 (52–151) versus 57 (45–79) μg/l. Serum YKL-40 decreased stepwise after exercise, with a median decrease of 16 (13–39) μg/l for the CAD patients and 13 (10–22) μg/l for the controls from baseline to the lowest value. Thereafter, values increased again toward baseline level. Time after exercise was a significant factor for decrease in serum YKL-40 (P<0.0001), but no difference in YKL-40 decrease over time could be demonstrated between the groups (P=0.12).


Serum YKL-40 is elevated in patients with documented CAD compared with controls, and it decreases stepwise after exercise in both groups, indicating an anti-inflammatory effect of exercise independent of the presence of coronary atherosclerosis.

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