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Keywords:

  • Arterial stiffness;
  • Atherosclerosis;
  • Biomarker;
  • Cardiovascular risk;
  • Endothelial dysfunction;
  • Mechanism;
  • Methodology;
  • Therapeutics

Aims: Stiffening of the large arteries is a common feature of aging and is exacerbated by a number of disorders such as hypertension, diabetes, and renal disease. Arterial stiffening is recognized as an important and independent risk factor for cardiovascular events. This article will provide a comprehensive review of the recent advance on assessment of arterial stiffness as a translational medicine biomarker for cardiovascular risk.

Discussions: The key topics related to the mechanisms of arterial stiffness, the methodologies commonly used to measure arterial stiffness, and the potential therapeutic strategies are discussed. A number of factors are associated with arterial stiffness and may even contribute to it, including endothelial dysfunction, altered vascular smooth muscle cell (SMC) function, vascular inflammation, and genetic determinants, which overlap in a large degree with atherosclerosis. Arterial stiffness is represented by biomarkers that can be measured noninvasively in large populations. The most commonly used methodologies include pulse wave velocity (PWV), relating change in vessel diameter (or area) to distending pressure, arterial pulse waveform analysis, and ambulatory arterial stiffness index (AASI). The advantages and limitations of these key methodologies for monitoring arterial stiffness are reviewed in this article. In addition, the potential utility of arterial stiffness as a translational medicine surrogate biomarker for evaluation of new potentially vascular protective drugs is evaluated.

Conclusions: Assessment of arterial stiffness is a sensitive and useful biomarker of cardiovascular risk because of its underlying pathophysiological mechanisms. PWV is an emerging biomarker useful for reflecting risk stratification of patients and for assessing pharmacodynamic effects and efficacy in clinical studies.