• von Willebrand factor;
  • atherosclerosis;
  • endothelial damage;
  • carotid intima-media thickness;
  • microalbuminuria

Summary.  Von Willebrand factor (VWF) is considered a reliable marker of endothelial damage. Plasma levels of VWF were measured in 857 middle-aged subjects (80.4% men) free of clinically overt atherosclerotic disease, in relation to cardiovascular risk factors, carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and microalbuminuria, two established surrogate markers of atherosclerosis. There was linear trend for the increase of VWF, carotid IMT (p < 0.001) and microalbuminuria (p = 0.018). The association between VEF and both markers remained statistically significant after adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors and inflammatory markers (p < 0.01). In conclusion, VWF was independently associated with both structural and functional surrogates of atherosclerosis in asymptomatic subjects, thus representing a systemic biomarker of subclinical atherosclerosis.