Background: Vasa vasorum (VV) vessels are critical in the genesis of atherosclerosis. Therefore, we assessed measures of carotid VV, intima-media thickness (CIMT), and patient risk factors in a primary prevention population.
Methods: We used multivariable linear models to evaluate the relationship between baseline covariates and a measure of carotid VV (VV ratio) and CIMT among 324 diabetics and 141 nondiabetics.
Results: Median CIMT (in mm) and VV ratio among nondiabetics were 0.82 ± 0.22 and 0.80 ± 0.19, respectively, and 1.06 ± 0.19 and 1.21 ± 0.26 among diabetics (P < 0.0001). Diabetes was associated with 36% (95% CI: 24.3-48.0, P < 0.001) higher VV ratio whereas a unit change in BMI was associated with ≈1% (95% CI: 0.5-1.4, P < 0.001) change in VV ratio. A 10-year increase in age was associated with 4% (95% CI: 1-7, P = 0.005) higher CIMT. Each 10 mmHg increase in mean systolic blood pressure was associated with 2% (95% CI: 1-4, P = 0.003) higher CIMT whereas diabetes conferred 31% (95% CI: 19.1-42.1, P < 0.001) higher CIMT. Female sex was associated with a 9% (95% CI: -12.9 to -4.1, P < 0.001) lower CIMT. Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, blood pressure, and CIMT were not significantly associated with VV ratio.
Conclusion: In this cohort of patients with low CIMT, VV ratio, and CIMT were distinctly unrelated, but each independently associated with diabetes. VV ratio and CIMT relationships warrant further investigation in large-scale studies and across a spectrum of atherosclerostic states.
Keywords: atherosclerosis; cardiovascular risk; contrast-enhanced ultrasound; in vivo imaging; neovascularization; noninvasive imaging; vasa vasorum.
© 2014, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.