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Keywords:

  • Aortic aneurysm;
  • atherosclerosis;
  • calcification;
  • fetuin-A;
  • Marfan syndrome

Eur J Clin Invest 2011; 41 (2): 176–182

Abstract

Background  Fetuin-A is a glycoprotein that inhibits extraosseous and vascular calcification. Its serum level is lower in patients with atherosclerosis compared with healthy controls, but its role is unknown in aneurysmal diseases. The aim of our study was to investigate the association of serum fetuin-A levels with aortic aneurysms of different aetiology: Marfan syndrome and atherosclerosis.

Material and methods  In a single centre cross-sectional observational study, 105 patients (30 with atherosclerotic aortic aneurysm, 15 with Marfan syndrome, 30 with peripheral arterial disease and 30 healthy controls) were examined; sera were analysed for fetuin-A, standard markers of possible inflammation, lipid profile, kidney and hepatic disease and diabetes. Systemic atherosclerosis was assessed by carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) measurement and arterial calcification score of cardiac valves, carotids, aorta and femoral arteries determined by ultrasound.

Results  Serum fetuin-A levels (median and IQR) were significantly lower in the atherosclerotic aneurysm cohort than in patients with Marfan syndrome: 708 μg mL−1 (612–780) and 756 μg mL−1 (708–816), respectively, (P = 0·0428). Fetuin-A levels were 754 μg mL−1 (713–777) in the control group and 654 μg mL−1 (600–756) in patients with peripheral arterial disease. Mean and maximum IMT, ACS values and homocysteine levels were significantly higher in patients with atherosclerosis: P < 0·0001, P < 0·0001, P < 0·0001 and P = 0·0034, respectively. There was no significant difference between aneurysm groups analysing the results of lipid profile and acute-phase markers.

Conclusions  The significantly lower serum level of fetuin-A in the atherosclerotic aneurysm group supports the protective role of fetuin-A in the evolution of arterial calcification.