Background: Carbamylation is a non-enzymatic post-translational modification of proteins that has been recently identified as a non-traditional risk factor for atherosclerosis. The aim of this study was to determine whether serum homocitrulline (HCit), a characteristic carbamylation-derived product, was related to the presence and the severity of coronary artery disease (CAD).
Methods: Forty-five control subjects and 109 patients were included in this cross-sectional study. After coronary angiography, the patients were classified as non-CAD patients (patients with normal arteries, n=33) and CAD patients (n=76). The severity of CAD was then evaluated using the Gensini scoring system. Serum total HCit concentrations were determined by LC-MS/MS.
Results: Serum HCit concentrations were significantly (p<0.001) higher in CAD patients than in control or non-CAD subjects. The receiver operating characteristic curve analysis showed an area under the curve equal to 0.908 (95% confidence interval, 0.853-0.964, p<0.001) and a threshold HCit concentration of 0.16 mmol/mol Lys for predicting the presence of CAD (78.9% sensitivity and 78.8% specificity). HCit concentrations significantly (p<0.001) increased concomitantly with the severity of CAD and were positively correlated with Gensini scores (r=0.725, p<0.001) as well as with the number of stenotic coronary arteries (p<0.001). Furthermore, in a multiple stepwise regression analysis, HCit was significantly (p<0.001) and independently associated with the presence of CAD, the Gensini score, and the number of stenotic arteries (standardized β values of 0.525, 0.722, and 0.642, respectively).
Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that serum HCit concentrations are increased during CAD and are positively associated with the severity of the disease.