Plasma IL-5 concentration and subclinical carotid atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis. 2015 Mar;239(1):125-30. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2014.12.046. Epub 2014 Dec 23.


Objective: Genetic variants robustly associated with coronary artery disease were reported in the vicinity of the interleukin (IL)-5 locus, and animal studies suggested a protective role for IL-5 in atherosclerosis. Therefore, we set this work to explore IL-5 as a plasma biomarker for early subclinical atherosclerosis, as determined by measures of baseline severity and change over time of carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT).

Methods: We used biobank and databases of IMPROVE, a large European prospective cohort study of high-risk individuals (n = 3534) free of clinically overt cardiovascular disease at enrollment, in whom composite and segment-specific measures of cIMT were recorded at baseline and after 15 and 30 months. IL-5 was measured with an immunoassay in plasma samples taken at baseline.

Results: IL-5 levels were lower in women than in men, lower in the South than in North of Europe, and showed positive correlations with most established risk factors. IL-5 showed significant inverse relationships with cIMT change over time in the common carotid segment in women, but no significant relationships to baseline cIMT in either men or women.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that IL-5 may be part of protective mechanisms operating in early atherosclerosis, at least in women. However, the relationships are weak and whereas IL-5 has been proposed as a potential molecular target to treat allergies, it is difficult to envisage such a scenario in coronary artery disease.

Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Coronary artery disease; Cytokines; Interleukin-5; Intima-media thickness.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anthropometry
  • Biological Specimen Banks
  • Biomarkers
  • Carotid Arteries / diagnostic imaging
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / blood*
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness*
  • Disease Progression
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay
  • Interleukin-5 / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • IL5 protein, human
  • Interleukin-5