Background: Cigarette smoking is a well-known risk factor for not only incident events of coronary heart disease, but also preclinical atherosclerosis. Enzymes including glutathione S-transferase mu (GSTM1) and theta (GSTT1) are involved in the metabolism of tobacco smoke chemicals and are expressed in human vessels and smooth muscle cells.
Methods: We estimated the effect of interaction of smoking with the deletion polymorphisms of GSTM1 and GSTT1 on the risk of carotid artery atherosclerosis. We analyzed a stratified random sample of 1394 individuals from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, which is a prospective cohort study of 15,792 white and black men and women randomly selected from four U.S. communities between 1987 and 1989. As an index of generalized atherosclerosis, we used carotid artery intimal-medial thickness, as determined by B-mode ultrasound at the baseline or first follow-up examination in asymptomatic individuals.
Results: We found a suggestion of an interaction between the functional GSTT-1 genotype (GSTT-1) and heavy smoking. For 20 or more pack-years and GSTT1-1, the odds ratio for increased intimal-medial thickness was 4.7 (95% confidence interval = 1.9-11.8); for 20 or more pack-years and GSTT1-0, 1.7 (0.5-5.5); and for nonsmokers and GSTT1-1, 0.7 (0.3-1.5). We found no interaction between smoking and GSTM1.
Conclusions: The results of this analysis of preclinical atherosclerosis extend reports from the ARIC study of an interaction between smoking and GSTT1-1 in relation to the risk of incident coronary heart disease and lower extremity arterial disease.