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Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2003 May;228(5):568-71.

Inverse relationship between serum bilirubin and atherosclerosis in men: a meta-analysis of published studies.

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  • 1EuroMISE Center-Cardio and Institute of Hygienic Medicine and Epidemiology, 1st Medical Faculty, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic.


Bilirubin, a major intravascular product of heme catabolism, is a potent antioxidant compound. Numerous studies have been published showing the relationship between serum bilirubin levels and atherosclerosis. In the present investigation all the epidemiological studies available on the effect of serum bilirubin levels and atherosclerotic disease were analyzed. Studies on the epidemiology of atherosclerotic diseases in relation to serum bilirubin levels were searched in the MEDLINE database. Selected studies were subdivided according to serum bilirubin levels and severity of atherosclerotic disease. Because of the limited number of females involved in the studies, only males were included into meta-analysis. Associations for ordered categorical variables (bilirubin and natural history of graded atherosclerosis) were assessed to find correlation and linear trend between analyzed variables. A stratified analysis was conducted to compare risks of clinical outcomes. Eleven relevant studies were used for analysis. A close negative relationship was found between serum bilirubin levels and severity of atherosclerosis (Spearman rank coefficient r = -0.31,P < 0.0001). The linear trend was confirmed in analysis of proportions with x(2) values for both disease conditions to be very significant (P < 0.0001). Unambiguous inverse relationship between serum bilirubin levels and atherosclerosis was demonstrated in this preliminary meta-analytic study. These results indicate the importance of hem oxygenase-related products in the prevention of oxidative stress-mediated diseases.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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