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Atherosclerosis. 2009 Jul;205(1):261-5. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2008.10.040. Epub 2008 Nov 12.

Asymmetric and symmetric dimethylarginines are of similar predictive value for cardiovascular risk in the general population.

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Department of Neurology, Medical University Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.



Asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) has raised considerable interest, as it is an endogenous inhibitor of nitric oxide synthesis. While increased plasma levels of ADMA have been reported in different cardiovascular disease states, its association with symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) has not been evaluated in a prospective population-based study.


We performed a mass spectrometry-based analysis of ADMA and SDMA in the plasma of 572 participants of the Bruneck study. Levels of ADMA and SDMA were significantly correlated with each other (r=0.189, p<0.001). Age and parameters of renal function, however, showed a stronger influence on SDMA than on ADMA. Both ADMA and SDMA were predictive of cardiovascular disease in multivariate analysis and the associated hazard ratios over the 5-year observation period were of similar strength: 3.86 (1.36-10.9) and 7.91 (1.94-32.3) for ADMA and SDMA, respectively (p=0.011 and 0.004). Separate analyses focused on quintile groups of SDMA revealed that the increase in cardiovascular risk was mainly confined to the top category (>0.80 micromol/L).


This study argues against an exclusive ADMA effect in mediating cardiovascular risk. Instead, SDMA, its supposedly inactive counterpart, has similar diagnostic value in this large prospective cohort.

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