Objective: Besides its effects on glucose and lipid metabolism, the Wnt pathway has been increasingly implicated in the regulation of proliferation, migration and survival of vascular cells. In addition, defective Wnt signaling has been identified in a family with autosomal dominant early coronary artery disease. The aim of this study was to investigate whether premature coronary artery disease is associated with features of decreased Wnt signaling.
Methods and results: We prospectively enrolled 100 consecutive young survivors of myocardial infarction (MI≤40 years of age) from two high-volume cardiac catheterization centers and 100 sex and age matched hospital controls. We determined serum levels of Wnt-1 and its antagonist Dkk-1 by ELISA. MI patients showed significantly lower Wnt-1 levels as compared to controls (151 ng/mL, IQR 38-473 ng/mL vs. 233 ng/mL, IQR 62-1756; p<0.005) whereas Dkk-1 was not different at baseline. Wnt-1 levels remained stable over time, whereas Dkk-1 significantly increased at one-year follow-up from 3557, IQR 2306-5810 pg/mL to 4973, IQR 3293-7093 pg/mL (p<0.001). In the stable phase of the disease, Wnt-1 levels were lower (p<0.005) and Dkk-1 levels were significantly higher (p<0.001) as compared to controls. Wnt-1 at follow-up was associated with glucose, HbA1c, non-HDL-, HDL-cholesterol and triglyceride levels but no other features of the metabolic syndrome.
Conclusion: This study establishes an association between low Wnt-1 and high Dkk-1 serum levels and premature myocardial infarction. Wnt-1 is associated with markers of glucose and lipid metabolism. Further research elucidating the role of Wnt pathways in premature coronary artery disease and metabolic syndrome is warranted.
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