BACKGROUND: Familial combined hyperlipidaemia (FCH) is characterized by dyslipidaemia, visceral obesity and insulin resistance, and is associated with an increased intima-media thickness (IMT) and an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. In the present study, we investigated whether FCH is associated with early functional vascular wall changes, as represented by endothelial dysfunction, and we determined whether endothelial function in FCH is related to any of the cardiovascular risk factors associated with the FCH phenotype, or to the (increased) IMT.
DESIGN: In 98 patients with FCH [mean age 51 (48-54) years, 43% male] and 230 unaffected relatives [mean age 44 (42-46) years, 48% male], venous blood was drawn in the fasting state after discontinuation of lipid lowering drugs for at least 4 weeks (if used). IMT was measured by B-mode ultrasound and endothelial function was assessed by determination of flow mediated dilation (FMD) and by measurement of plasma concentrations of various soluble adhesion molecules, including soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule (sVCAM), soluble intercellular adhesion molecule (sICAM) and soluble E-selectin.
RESULTS: There were no significant differences between FCH patients and their non-affected relatives in FMD [2.9 (2.3-3.6%) vs. 2.8 (2.5-3.2%)] or in the plasma concentrations of the various adhesion molecules. None of the individual clinical and biochemical cardiovascular risk factors was an independent predictor of endothelial function in patients with FCH, nor was IMT. However, subgroup analysis revealed that IMT was an independent and powerful predictor of FMD in subjects with carotid artery plaques (St. beta = 4.11, P < 0.004), whereas IMT was no significant predictor in subjects without plaques.
CONCLUSIONS: FCH patients have no impaired endothelial function when compared to their unaffected relatives. IMT is an important predictor of FMD when advanced morphological wall changes are present. Our results question the value of FMD measurements for cardiovascular risk stratification in populations with an anticipated high cardiovascular risk.
- Cardiovascular Diseases/etiology
- Endothelium, Vascular/metabolism
- Hyperlipidemia, Familial Combined/complications
- Middle Aged
- Predictive Value of Tests
- Risk Factors