Objectives Plasma C-reactive protein (CRP) is associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD), but effects may vary by gender and degree of CVD risk. Whether CRP has value as a CVD risk marker in type-2 diabetes (T2DM) is unclear. We examined whether CRP has gender differences in association with coronary artery calcium (CAC) in diabetic and nondiabetic samples without clinical CVD.
Methods We performed cross-sectional analyses of gender influence on CRP association with CAC in the Penn Diabetes Heart Study (N = 1299 with T2DM), the Study of Inherited Risk of Coronary Atherosclerosis (N = 860 nondiabetic subjects) and a combined sample.
Results Female gender was associated with higher plasma CRP in diabetic and nondiabetic samples after adjustment for covariates. There was a strong interaction by gender in the association of CRP with CAC (interaction P < 0·001). In diabetic women, CRP was associated with higher CAC even after further adjustment for age, race, medications, metabolic syndrome, Framingham risk score and body mass index [Tobit ratio 1·60, 95% CI (1·03–2·47)]. Although this relationship was attenuated in nondiabetic women, the combined sample maintained this association in fully adjusted models [1·44, 95% CI (1·13–1·83)]. There was no association of CRP with CAC in either diabetic or nondiabetic men.
Conclusions CRP may be a useful marker of cardiovascular risk in women, particularly in diabetic women who otherwise have no known CVD. Prospective studies are needed to better assess the gender differences in CRP utility and the use of CRP in T2DM.