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BACKGROUND - Arterial stiffness increases with age and contributes to the pathogenesis of systolic hypertension and cardiovascular disease in the elderly. Knowledge about the pathophysiological processes that determine arterial stiffness may help guide therapeutic approaches.
METHODS AND RESULTS - We related 7 circulating biomarkers representing distinct biological pathways (C-reactive protein, aldosterone-to-renin ratio, N-terminal proatrial natriuretic peptide and B-type natriuretic peptide, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, fibrinogen, and homocysteine) to 5 vascular function measures (central pulse pressure, carotid-femoral pulse-wave velocity, mean arterial pressure, forward pressure wave amplitude [all measures of conduit artery stiffness], and augmented pressure, an indicator of wave reflection) in 2000 Framingham Offspring Study participants (mean age, 61 years; 55% women). Tonometry measures were obtained on average 3 years after the biomarkers were measured. In multivariable linear regression models adjusting for covariates, the biomarker panel was significantly associated with all 5 vascular measures (P<0.003 for all). On backward elimination, the aldosterone-to-renin ratio was positively associated with each stiffness measure (P< or =0.002 for all). In addition, C-reactive protein was positively related to augmented pressure (P=0.0003), whereas plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 was positively associated with mean arterial pressure (P=0.003), central pulse pressure (P=0.001), and forward pressure wave (P=0.01).
CONCLUSIONS - Our cross-sectional data on a community-based sample suggest a distinctive pattern of positive associations of biomarkers of renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system activation with pan-arterial vascular stiffness, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 with central vascular stiffness indices, and C-reactive protein with wave reflection. These observations support the notion of differential influences of biological pathways on vascular stiffness measures.