Signature of subclinical femoral artery atherosclerosis in peripheral blood mononuclear cells

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Abstract

Background

Peripheral arterial disease is a relevant public health problem associated with increased risk of morbimortality. Most of the patients with this condition are asymptomatic. Therefore, the development of accessible biochemical markers seems to be necessary to anticipate diagnosis. Our hypothesis is that asymptomatic subjects with objectively confirmed femoral artery atherosclerosis could be distinguished from control subjects by gene expression analysis in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC).

Materials and methods

A total of 37 asymptomatic males over 50 years old were recruited at the University Clinic of Navarra (Spain). Nineteen participants were free from atherosclerotic vascular disease and 18 participants presented subclinical femoral artery atherosclerosis defined by means of Doppler ultrasound. PBMC were isolated from blood and the RNA extracted. A panel of atherosclerotic-related genes were evaluated by Taqman low-density array.

Results

In univariate logistic regression models, we found a direct relationship between IL4, ITGAM and TLR2 expression levels in PBMC and femoral atherosclerosis, even when the models were adjusted for age and hypertension prevalence. Multivariate logistic regression models showed that elevated IL4 expression levels were intimately associated with subclinical femoral atherosclerosis after adjusting for the same potential confounders.

Conclusions

Current data suggest that gene expression in PBMC, in particular IL4 expression, could be a useful tool in the diagnosis of femoral artery atherosclerosis in asymptomatic patients. Furthermore, in patients with no differences in cardiovascular risk factors except for hypertension, the results point to the immune and inflammatory deregulation as a feature of subclinical peripheral atherosclerosis.

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