, Volume 13, Issue 10, pp 1281-1289
Date: 02 Sep 2008

The association between plasma caspase-3, atherosclerosis, and vascular function in the Dallas Heart Study

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Caspase-3, an apoptosis protease, is expressed in atherosclerotic plaques. We examined the relationship between plasma caspase-3 levels, aortic compliance, and atherosclerosis.


Caspase-3 was measured in 3,221 subjects from the Dallas Heart Study. Electron beam computed tomography measures of coronary calcium (CAC) (n = 2,404) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measures of abdominal aortic wall thickness (AWT) (n = 2,208) and aortic compliance (AC) (n = 2,328) were obtained. Multivariate analyses were performed, adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity, body mass index (BMI), traditional cardiovascular risk factors, and cardiac medications.


In univariable analysis, caspase-3 associated with CAC (P < 0.0001), AWT (P = 0.002), and AC (P < 0.0001). After multivariable adjustment, 4th quartile caspase-3 (compared to 1st quartile) was significantly associated with CAC (P = 0.004), AWT (P = 0.02), and AC (P < 0.0001) with similar findings for caspase-3 as a continuous variable.


Caspase-3 independently associates with CAC, AWT, and AC, suggesting a link between apoptosis and atherosclerosis.