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Keywords:

  • cardiovascular risk factors;
  • C-reactive protein;
  • inflammation;
  • procalcitonin

Abstract.  Schiopu A, Hedblad B, Engström G, Struck J, Morgenthaler NG, Melander O (Lund University, Skåne University Hospital Malmö, Malmö, Sweden; BRAHMS GmbH/Thermo Fisher Scientific, Hennigsdorf, Germany). Plasma procalcitonin and the risk of cardiovascular events and death: a prospective population-based study. J Intern Med 2012; 272: 484–491.

Objectives:  A number of inflammatory biomarkers such as C-reactive protein (CRP) are independent predictors of cardiovascular risk. The inflammatory biomarker procalcitonin (PCT) has previously been shown to be associated with coronary atherosclerosis and the metabolic syndrome. We evaluated the ability of PCT to predict future cardiovascular events in a population of apparently healthy individuals.

Design:  We measured plasma PCT levels in 3713 subjects with no previous history of cardiovascular disease, randomly selected from the Malmö Diet and Cancer cohort. The correlation between PCT concentration and the incidence of coronary events, stroke and cardiovascular death over a median follow-up period of 13.7 years was studied using a Cox regression analysis corrected for age, sex, CRP level, traditional risk factors and renal function.

Results:  Age and sex were strong determinants of PCT; the concentration of PCT was significantly higher in men than in women. PCT was associated with several of the established cardiovascular risk factors (CRP, hypertension, diabetes and renal function) as determined by multivariate linear regression. Of note, PCT was inversely correlated with HDL and smoking. We found significant correlations between PCT levels, coronary events and cardiovascular death. However, these relationships lost statistical significance when the analysis was corrected for CRP and the traditional risk factors.

Conclusions:  This is the largest population-based prospective study to demonstrate a positive association between plasma PCT levels and cardiovascular risk in subjects with no previous history of acute cardiovascular events. However, the high degree of covariation between PCT and other cardiovascular risk factors limits the value of PCT as an independent cardiovascular risk predictor.