Alpha2-macroglobulin as a promising biomarker for cerebral small vessel disease in acute ischemic stroke patients

J Neurol. 2013 Oct;260(10):2642-9. doi: 10.1007/s00415-013-7040-x. Epub 2013 Jul 23.


Alpha2-macroglobulin is a protease inhibitor that enhances procoagulant properties via the neutralization of plasmin, plasminogen activators and metalloproteinases. Additionally, alpha2-macroglobulin is thought to be involved in inflammatory reactions as a carrier protein for interleukin-6 (IL-6). The objective of this study was to evaluate the usefulness of alpha2-macroglobulin as a biomarker for cerebrovascular diseases. Patients with acute ischemic stroke (n = 159; 93 male and 66 female, 71.6 ± 10.3 years) and patients with no previous history of stroke (n = 77; 38 male and 39 female, 70.7 ± 9.5 years) were consecutively enrolled in this study. White matter lesions were assessed via the fluid-attenuated inversion recovery image of magnetic resonance images using the Fazekas classification. The serum alpha2-macroglobulin levels were measured by nephelometry. The serum alpha2-macroglobulin levels at admission in patients with acute ischemic stroke were higher than those in the control patients (230.2 ± 73.7 vs. 205.0 ± 55.8 mg/dl, p = 0.009). The serum alpha2-macroglobulin levels were positively correlated with age and the severity of the white matter lesions (R (2) = 0.048, p < 0.001 and R (2) = 0.058, p < 0.001, respectively), although there was no significant association between serum alpha2-macroglobulin levels and IL-6 levels. In addition, multivariate analysis showed that increased serum alpha2-macroglobulin levels were independently associated with the severity of white matter lesions [standardized partial regression coefficient (β) 0.102, p = 0.026]. Increased serum alpha2-macroglobulin levels might be involved in the pathophysiology of acute ischemic stroke. Furthermore, serum alpha2-macroglobulin levels, which were associated with high-grade white matter lesions, may reflect the chronic pathophysiological condition of cerebral small vessel disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Brain Ischemia / complications
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases / blood*
  • Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / pathology
  • ROC Curve
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Stroke / complications*
  • Stroke / etiology
  • alpha-Macroglobulins / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers
  • alpha-Macroglobulins
  • C-Reactive Protein