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J Pediatr. 2012 Nov;161(5):887-91. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.04.033. Epub 2012 May 23.

Puberty and microvascular function in healthy children and adolescents.

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Division of Cardiovascular Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Sports Cardiology, Department of Cardiology, Inselspital, University Hospital and University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.



To determine the role of pubertal status on microvascular function in healthy children and adolescents.


Children and adolescents (n = 112; age 10-16 years) were investigated in 2 separate prospective cross-sectional studies. The main outcome measure was microvascular function, assessed by peripheral arterial tonometry to determine the reactive hyperemic index (RHI). Physical activity was assessed using 7-day recall in one study and accelerometry in the other study. Subjects were grouped based on their self-assessed pubertal status according to Tanner stage: group 1 (prepuberty, Tanner I), group 2 (mid-puberty, Tanner II/III), and group 3 (late puberty, Tanner IV/V). Stepwise multiple regression analysis was performed to identify independent predictors of the RHI.


Complete data were available for 94 subjects (55 females) with a median (IQR) age of 14 (3.0) years and a mean body mass index of 19.0 ± 3.63 kg·m(-2). Significant correlations with RHI were observed for Tanner stage (r = 0.569; P < .001), age (r = 0.567; P < .001), stature (r = 0.553; P < .001), systolic blood pressure (r = 0.494; P < .001), and body mass index (r = 0.309; P = .001), but not for sex and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. In stepwise regression analysis, pubertal status was the only independent predictor of microvascular function (R(2) = 0.242; β = 0.492; P < .001). Prepubertal children (group 1) had a significantly lower RHI [1.14 (0.24)] compared with group 2 [1.65 (0.57)] and group 3 [1.70 (0.75)] (all P < .001).


Pubertal status was the main predictor of microvascular function in healthy children and adolescents. Future studies investigating microvascular function in this age group should assess and control for pubertal maturation.

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