Plasma ferritin concentrations are not associated with abdominal aortic aneurysm diagnosis, size or growth

Atherosclerosis. 2016 Aug:251:19-24. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2016.05.022. Epub 2016 May 12.


Background and aims: Experimental studies using a rodent model have suggested that iron overload may contribute to abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) pathogenesis.

Methods: We assessed the association of total body iron, as measured by plasma ferritin, with AAA diagnosis, size and growth in 4024 community-dwelling older men screened for AAA, using logistic regression and linear mixed effects models.

Results: Plasma ferritin concentrations were similar in men who did (n = 293) and did not (n = 3731) have an AAA (median [inter-quartile range] concentrations 115.4 [63.0-203.1] and 128.5 [66.1-229.1] ng/mL respectively, p = 0.124). There was no association between plasma ferritin concentration and AAA diagnosis in unadjusted logistic regression (odds ratio (OR) for a 1 standard deviation increase: 0.880 [95%CI: 0.764-1.015]; p = 0.078), or when adjusting for AAA risk factors and factors known to influence circulating ferritin (OR for a 1 standard deviation increase: 0.898 [95% CI: 0.778-1.035]; p = 0.138). Iron overload prevalence (plasma ferritin concentrations >200 ng/mL) was lower in men with an AAA (25.3%) than those without (30.8%; p = 0.048), but was not associated with AAA diagnosis after adjusting as above (OR: 0.781 [95% CI:0.589-1.035]; p = 0.086). The association of iron overload with AAA growth was investigated in 265 men with small AAAs who received at least 1 repeat ultrasound scan in the 3 years following screening. We saw no difference in AAA growth between men who did and did not have iron overload (n = 65 and 185 respectively, p = 0.164).

Conclusions: Our data suggest that iron overload is unlikely to be important in AAA pathogenesis.

Keywords: Abdominal aortic aneurysm; Biomarker; Ferritin; Iron overload.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / blood*
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / diagnosis*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood*
  • Humans
  • Iron Overload
  • Iron, Dietary*
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers
  • Iron, Dietary
  • Ferritins