Plasminogen activator inhitor-1 associates with cardiovascular risk factors in healthy young adults in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study

Atherosclerosis. 2012 Sep;224(1):208-12. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2012.06.062. Epub 2012 Jul 16.


Aims: Hypofibrinolysis displayed by elevated serum plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1) level has been associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and its risk factors such as obesity and insulin resistance. However, no studies have examined associations between PAI-1 and CVD risk factors in healthy subjects. We examined associations between serum PAI-1, ultrasound markers of atherosclerosis and CVD risk factors and whether PAI-1 improves prediction of atherosclerosis over known risk factors in a cohort of asymptomatic adults.

Methods: We analyzed PAI-1 and CVD risk factors and assessed carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT), distensibility (CDist) and the presence of a carotid atherosclerotic plaque and flow-mediated dilation (FMD) ultrasonographically for 2202 adults (993 men and 1,209 women, aged 30-45 years) participating in the ongoing longitudinal cohort study, The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study. High cIMT was defined as >90th percentile and/or carotid plaque and low CDist and low FMD as <20th percentile.

Results: In bivariate analyses, PAI-1 correlated directly with cIMT and the risk factors: blood pressure, BMI, waist and hip circumference, alcohol use, total and LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, glomerular filtration rate, high-sensitivity CRP and glucose (all P<0.005). PAI-1 was higher in men and increased with age. Inverse correlation was observed with CDist, HDL-cholesterol and adiponectin in both sexes, with testosterone and sex hormone binding globulin in men and with creatinine and oral contraceptive use in women (P<0.005). Independent direct associations were observed between PAI-1 and waist circumference, serum triglycerides, insulin, alcohol use and age and inverse with serum creatinine, HDL-cholesterol and adiponectin. PAI-1 did not improve estimation of high cIMT, low CDist and low FMD over conventional risk factors (P for difference in area under curve ≥ 0.37).

Conclusion: PAI-1 was independently associated with several known CVD risk factors, especially obesity markers, in both men and women. However, addition of PAI-1 to known risk factors did not improve cross-sectional prediction of high cIMT, low CDist and low FMD suggesting that PAI-1 is not a clinically important biomarker in early atherosclerosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1 / blood*
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1