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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2008 Jan;28(1):160-5. Epub 2007 Oct 19.

Are serum carcinoembryonic antigen levels associated with carotid atherosclerosis in Japanese men?

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Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Tokyo Graduate School of Medicine, Hongo 7-3-1 Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8655, Japan.



Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), a serological marker of malignant tumors, may show a modest increase under some nonmalignant conditions, such as ageing and cigarette smoking. We have investigated whether serum CEA levels are associated with early carotid atherosclerosis.


Cross-sectional data from 4181 male individuals who underwent general health screening were analyzed. The interquartile of cutoff values of serum CEA levels were 1.0, 1.6, and 2.5 ng/mL. Cigarette smoking was associated with increased serum CEA levels in a dose- and duration-dependent manner, and this association was more prominent in current than former smokers. Logistic regression analysis adjusted for age, body mass index, serum lipid and glucose profiles, white blood cell count, C-reactive protein, and smoking habits showed that the first, second, third, and fourth CEA quartiles were associated with carotid plaque with an odds ratio of 1 (reference), 1.25 (95% CI 1.03 to 1.52, P=0.023), 1.49 (95% CI 1.23 to 1.82 P<0.001), and 1.34 (95% CI 1.08 to 1.65, P=0.007), respectively. Although serum CEA levels were associated with metabolic syndrome, association between serum CEA and carotid plaque was significant in individuals without metabolic syndrome.


Serum CEA was associated with carotid atherosclerosis independently of atherogenic risk factors and markers of inflammation. Our data suggest that a slight elevation of CEA in current smokers, as well as in never smokers, may not be an innocuous observation from the viewpoint of atherosclerosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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