Objective: Several cohort studies have shown a link between serum C-reactive protein (CRP) and subsequent cardiovascular disease; however, the role of CRP as an independent risk factor remains controversial. We therefore investigated the association between CRP and sclerotic lesions of common carotid atherosclerosis.
Patients and methods: We evaluated sclerotic lesions of common carotid arterial intima-media thickness (IMT) by ultrasonography in 139 men aged 67 +/- 15 years and 201 women aged 75 +/- 10 years. To investigate the relation between CRP and various confounding factors, subjects were divided into four groups based on the quartile of CPR.
Results: Carotid IMT values were significantly higher in groups with higher CRP (p = 0.022). To identify the possible CRP level and risk factor interactions for IMT, multiple regression analysis for IMT was performed based on risk factors in subjects with a specific CRP level. It was shown that age, smoking status, systolic blood pressure (SBP) and LDL cholesterol were significantly associated with IMT in subjects in the lower CRP groups (CRP-1 approximately CRP-3), and age, SBP and presence of diabetes mellitus in the highest CRP group (CRP-4). To further investigate whether the interaction between CRP and conventional risk factors could influence IMT, a general linear model demonstrated that interaction between CRP and the presence of diabetes mellitus (F = 4.754 p = 0.030) was significantly associated with IMT, in addition to sex, age, SBP, antihypertensive drug use, LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol.
Conclusions: This finding indicates that the association between CRP and IMT significantly differed between subjects with and without diabetes mellitus.