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J Atheroscler Thromb. 2009 Jun;16(3):179-87.

Increased plasma urotensin-II and carotid atherosclerosis are associated with vascular dementia.

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Division of Diabetes, Metabolism, and Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, Showa University School of Medicine, Tokyo 142-8555, Japan.



Human urotensin-II (UII) is a cyclic neuropeptide with potent vasoconstrictive activity in the vasculature. The expression of UII and its receptor (UT) mRNA is detected at high levels in the brain. We evaluated the relationship between plasma UII levels and vascular dementia (VaD) caused by stroke or atherosclerotic small vessel disease.


Carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT), plaques, plasma levels of immunoreactive UII (IR-UII), and atherosclerotic biomarkers were determined in 42 patients with VaD, 197 with Alzheimer's disease (AD), and 47 non-demented elderly controls.


Age, gender, body mass index, systolic blood pressure (SBP), fasting plasma glucose, insulin, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, leptin, and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 levels were not significantly different among these groups. IR-UII, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, lipoprotein(a), lipid peroxides, interleukin-6, and high-sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) levels, and maximum IMT were significantly higher in VaD than in AD patients or controls. IR-UII level showed a significantly positive correlation with SBP or maximum IMT. Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed a significantly independent association between IR-UII levels or increased maximum IMT (> or =1.1 mm) and VaD as compared with SBP, LDL cholesterol, and interleukin-6 levels.


Increased plasma IR-UII levels and carotid atherosclerosis may be involved in the pathogenesis and progression of VaD.

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