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Eur Heart J. 2005 Jan;26(2):153-8. Epub 2004 Nov 30.

Monocyte cyclooxygenase-2 overactivity: a new marker of subclinical atherosclerosis in asymptomatic subjects with cardiovascular risk factors?

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Department of Internal Medicine, University Clinic, Clínica Universitaria, Avenida de Pío XII 36, 31008 Pamplona, Spain. obeloqui@unav.ed



Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2)-mediated prostaglandin production by activated macrophages is associated with inflammation and atherosclerosis. We investigated the relationship between COX-2-mediated prostaglandin-E2 (PGE2) release, cardiovascular risk factors, and carotid atherosclerosis in apparently healthy subjects.


PGE2 release by lipopolysaccharide-stimulated blood monocytes was measured by ELISA in 291 subjects (76.5% men, mean age 58) who underwent global vascular risk assessment and carotid ultrasonography. COX-2 expression (real-time RT-PCR) was analysed in a subgroup of 100 subjects (76% men, mean age 59). Inducible PGE2 production was associated with smoking and diabetes (P<0.05), but not with arterial hypertension, dyslipidaemia, or obesity. Subjects in the highest tertile of PGE2 (>8.1 ng/mL) had significantly higher mean carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) than those in the lowest tertile (P<0.01). No significant differences among tertiles were observed in the levels of inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein, fibrinogen, and von Willebrand factor). The association between PGE2 and carotid IMT remained statistically significant (P=0.012) after adjustment for a number of cardiovascular and inflammatory risk factors. A correlation between COX-2 expression and PGE2 production was observed (P<0.005).


COX-2-mediated PGE2 overproduction by stimulated monocytes might provide a new marker of subclinical atherosclerosis in asymptomatic subjects exposed to cardiovascular risk factors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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