Aim: To examine whether the inflammatory markers C-reactive protein (CRP) and fibrinogen are associated with biomarkers of atherosclerosis [carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and coronary artery calcification (CAC)] in the general male population, including Asians.
Methods: Population-based samples of 310 Japanese, 293 Japanese-American and 297 white men 40-49 years of age without clinical cardiovascular disease underwent measurement of IMT, CAC and the CRP and fibrinogen levels as well as other conventional risk factors using standardized methods. Statistical associations between the variables were evaluated using multiple linear or logistic regression models.
Results: The Japanese group had significantly lower levels of inflammatory markers and subclinical atherosclerosis than the Japanese-American and white groups (P-values all ＜0.001). The mean level of CRP was 0.66 vs. 1.11 and 1.47 mg/L, while that of fibrinogen was 255.0 vs. 313.0 and 291.5 mg/dl, respectively. In addition, the mean carotid IMT was 0.61 vs. 0.73 and 0.68 mm, while the mean prevalence of CAC was 11.6% vs. 32.1% and 26.3%, respectively. Body mass index (BMI) showed significant positive associations with both the CRP and fibrinogen levels. Although CRP showed a significant positive association with IMT in the Japanese men, this association became non-significant following adjustment for traditional risk factors or BMI. In all three populations, CRP was not found to be significantly associated with the prevalence of CAC. Similarly, fibrinogen did not exhibit a significant association with either IMT or the prevalence of CAC.
Conclusions: The associations between inflammatory markers and subclinical atherosclerosis may merely reflect the strong associations between BMI and the levels of inflammatory markers and incidence of subclinical atherosclerosis in both Eastern and Western populations.