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Arterioscler Thromb. 1994 Oct;14(10):1625-30.

Body iron stores and presence of carotid atherosclerosis. Results from the Bruneck Study.

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Department of Neurology, University Clinic Innsbruck, Austria.


We hypothesized that the formation of foam cells and fatty streaks requires a postsecretory oxidative modification of lipoproteins that targets them for rapid uptake by macrophages. Lipid peroxidation may in part depend on the concentration of tissue iron, one of the major oxidants in vivo. We analyzed the relation between sonographically assessed carotid atherosclerosis and body iron stores in a population sample of 847 men and women aged 40 to 79 years. In a logistic regression analysis adjusting for age, sex, and all major vascular risk markers, ferritin emerged as one of the strongest indicators of carotid artery disease in both sexes (40 to 59 years; odds ratio, 1.54 per 100 micrograms/L; P < .001). The predictive significance of ferritin was found to be synergistic with that of hypercholesterolemia. Variations in body iron stores between sexes may partly explain evident sex differences in the expression of carotid atherosclerosis. In the elderly (> or = 60 years) the predictive significance of ferritin was found to decrease parallel to that of apolipoprotein B. The current study suggests a possible role of body iron in early atherogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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