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Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2012;8:275-81. doi: 10.2147/VHRM.S30747. Epub 2012 May 1.

Lack of a relationship between circulating gamma-glutamyltransferase levels and carotid intima media thickness in hypertensive and diabetic patients.

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  • 1Dipartimento Cardio Toracico e Vascolare, Universit√† di Pisa, Pisa, Italy.



By increasing the intracellular prooxidant burden, gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) may accelerate atherosclerotic vascular disease. That noxious influence may be reflected by circulating enzyme levels, a correlate of cardiovascular risk factors, and a predictor of incident events. To evaluate this hypothesis, we tested the association between circulating GGT and common carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT), a surrogate index of systemic atherosclerotic involvement, in a large and well-characterized group of patients at risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).


This study analyzed 548 patients with hypertension and/or diabetes and a widely prevalent history of CVD. Subjects with known hepatic disease and abnormal GGT values were excluded.


CIMT (B-mode ultrasonography) values were the mean of four far-wall measurements at both common carotids. Metabolic syndrome (MetS) was diagnosed according to National Cholesterol Education Program-Adult Treatment Panel III criteria. Due to inherent sex-related differences in GGT levels, the data were analyzed separately in males and females in samples dichotomized by the median.


The age-adjusted CIMT values did not differ by GGT levels in males or females. In contrast, the carotid wall was consistently thicker in patients with a history of CVD and MetS independent of age and concurrent GGT values. In both sexes, GGT was associated with key components of the MetS such as triglycerides, fasting plasma glucose, and body mass index.


The data collected in this mixed group of hypertensive and/or diabetic patients with widely prevalent history of CVD do not support the concept of a direct pathophysiological link between GGT levels within reference limits and atherosclerotic involvement.


atherosclerosis; carotid intima-media thickness; gamma-glutamyltransferase; metabolic syndrome

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