Objective: To investigate the relationship of the inflammatory parameters--leukocyte count and fibrinogen level--to the intima-media thickness (IMT) of the common carotid artery and the common femoral artery, as well as to a variety of risk factors within the metabolic syndrome in a risk population for diabetes.
Methods: A total of 597 subjects were analyzed from the Risk factors in Impaired glucose tolerance for Atherosclerosis and Diabetes (RIAD) study, who were at risk for the development of type 2 diabetes. IMT of the common carotid and common femoral artery was determined by B-mode ultrasound. Leukocyte count and fibrinogen level, as well as various risk factors for atherosclerosis, were measured by established methods.
Results: In univariate analysis, leukocyte count and fibrinogen level correlated significantly to carotid and femoral IMT. Leukocyte count was significantly correlated to body mass index, waist to hip ratio, blood pressure, plasma triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (inversely), fasting and postprandial plasma glucose, insulin and proinsulin, PAI(active), tPA and microalbuminuria, as well as to smoking and physical activity (inversely). Fibrinogen level was significantly correlated with body mass index, systolic blood pressure, plasma triglycerides, fasting plasma glucose, HbA1c, PAI(active), tPA and von Willebrandt factor, as well as with smoking and low physical activity. In multivariate analysis, leukocyte count was an independent determinant of the maximal carotid IMT and fibrinogen level of femoral IMT.
Conclusions: Our study indicates that low-grade inflammation is correlated to IMT, as an indicator of early atherosclerosis, and is strongly associated to a variety of risk factors within the metabolic syndrome in a population at risk for type 2 diabetes.