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J Hum Hypertens. 2012 Aug;26(8):485-92. doi: 10.1038/jhh.2011.58. Epub 2011 Jun 9.

White blood cell subsets are associated with carotid intima-media thickness and pulse wave velocity in an older Chinese population: the Guangzhou Biobank Cohort Study.

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School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.


Cross-sectional associations between white blood cell (WBC) count, lymphocyte and granulocyte numbers, and carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (PWV) were examined in a novel older Chinese community sample. A total of 817 men and 760 women from a sub-study of the Guangzhou Biobank Cohort Study had a full blood count measured by an automated hematology analyzer, carotid IMT by B-mode ultrasonography and brachial-ankle PWV by a non-invasive automatic waveform analyzer. Following adjustment for confounders, WBC count (β=0.07, P<0.001) and granulocyte (β=0.07, P<0.001) number were significantly positively related to PWV, but not lymphocyte number. Similarly, WBC count (β=0.08, P=0.03), lymphocyte (β=0.08, P=0.002) and granulocyte (β=0.03, P=0.04) number were significantly positively associated with carotid IMT, but only the association with lymphocyte count survived correction for other cardiovascular risk factors. In conclusion, higher WBC, particularly lymphocyte and granulocyte, count could be used, respectively, as markers of cardiovascular disease risk, measured through indicators of atherosclerosis and arterial stiffness. The associations for WBC count previously observed by others were likely driven by higher granulocytes; an index of systemic inflammation.

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