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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1999 Mar;19(3):499-504.

Relationship of plasmin generation to cardiovascular disease risk factors in elderly men and women.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Vermont, Colchester, VT, USA.


Plasmin-alpha2-antiplasmin complex (PAP) marks plasmin generation and fibrinolytic balance. We recently observed that elevated levels of PAP predict acute myocardial infarction in the elderly, yet little is known about the correlates of PAP. We measured PAP in 800 elderly subjects who were free of clinical cardiovascular disease in 2 cohort studies: the Cardiovascular Health Study and the Honolulu Heart Program. Median PAP levels did not differ between the Cardiovascular Health Study (6.05+/-1.46 nmol/L) and the Honolulu Heart Program (6.11+/-1.44 nmol/L), and correlates of PAP were similar in both cohorts. In CHS, PAP levels increased with age (r=0. 30), procoagulant factors (eg, factor VIIc, r=0.15), thrombin activity (prothrombin fragment F1+2, r=0.29), and inflammation-sensitive proteins (eg, fibrinogen, r=0.44; factor VIIIc, r=0.37). PAP was associated with increased atherosclerosis as measured by the ankle-arm index (AAI) (P for trend, </=0.001). PAP was negatively related to factors associated with the insulin resistance syndrome (IRS) (eg, fasting insulin, r=-0.26; body mass index, r=-0.26), possibly reflecting an association with plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (r=-0.29). Although our study did not have sufficient power to detect a significant interaction, PAP and AAI appeared to be more weakly associated in subjects with more manifestations of the IRS: PAP appeared more strongly associated with AAI in the subgroup with 0 or 1 metabolic disorders (P</=0.001; slope estimate, -0.14) compared with the subgroup with 2 or more metabolic disorders (P=0.10; slope estimate, -0.08) and in those with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (P=0.46; slope estimate, -0.04). Although PAP reflects reactive fibrinolysis and is associated with subclinical atherosclerosis, this relationship may be weaker in populations with characteristics of the IRS, possibly reflecting the inhibitory effects of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 on PAP. Decreased fibrinolysis in the presence of subclinical disease in subjects with hyperinsulinemia or glucose intolerance is consistent with the premise that depressed plasmin generation may enhance the progression of atherosclerosis in these people.

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