Circulating Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 Correlates With the Extent of Human Atherosclerosis in Contrast to Circulating Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1, E-Selectin, P-Selectin, and Thrombomodulin
Secondary prevention of atherosclerosis, especially before the onset of symptoms, appears desirable and could be possible with a serum marker detecting atherosclerosis. Circulating, shedded forms of adhesion molecules may serve as such because their expression is upregulated in atherosclerotic plaques. In 52 patients with peripheral arterial vascular disease (Fontaine class IIa, 7 patients; class IIb, 29 patients; and class III, 16 patients), the extent of atherosclerosis was evaluated on the basis of angiograms of a large portion of the arterial system. The area diseased by atherosclerosis was determined by the percentage of vessel wall irregularities of the following calculated segments: aorta (distal from the kidney arteries), common iliac artery, external iliac artery, common femoral artery, lateral circumflex femoral artery, and popliteal artery. The maximal surface area that could exhibit atherosclerotic changes was 250 cm2. The serum concentration of circulating vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) correlated with the extent of atherosclerosis (r = .8, P < .001). In contrast, circulating intercellular adhesion molecule-1, E-selectin, P-selectin, and thrombomodulin (as markers for endothelial cell damage) did not correlate with the extent of atherosclerosis. Furthermore, circulating VCAM-1 could be used to indicate stages of atherosclerosis with a high degree of statistical significance. The potential bias of factors such as age, diabetes mellitus, hypercholesterolemia, arterial hypertension, renal failure, and history of myocardial infarction on the correlation of circulating VCAM-1 with the extent of atherosclerosis could be excluded by multivariate analysis. These findings suggest an important role of VCAM-1 in atherosclerosis and may serve as the basis for further evaluation of circulating VCAM-1 as a potential serum marker for atherosclerosis.