Background and aims: Wnt signaling is involved in atherosclerotic plaque formation directly and indirectly by modulating cardiovascular risk factors. We investigated whether circulating concentrations of Wnt inhibitors are associated with cardiovascular events in subjects with intermediate cardiovascular risk.
Methods: 904 non-diabetic subjects participating in the SAPHIR study were assessed. In the SAPHIR study, middle-aged women without overt atherosclerotic disease at study entry were followed up for 10 years. 88 patients of our study cohort developed cardiovascular disease at follow-up (CVD group). Subjects of the CVD group were 1:2 case-control matched for age, sex, BMI and smoking behavior with subjects without overt cardiovascular disease after a 10 year-follow-up (control group). 18 patients of the CVD group and 19 subjects of the control group were retrospectively excluded due to fulfilling exclusion criteria. Baseline circulating sclerostin, dickkopf (DKK)-1, secreted frizzled-related protein (SFRP)-1 and Wnt inhibitory factor (WIF)-1 levels were assessed by ELISA.
Results: Baseline systemic SFRP-1 and WIF-1 levels were significantly higher in patients with cardiovascular events (n = 70) when compared to healthy controls (n = 157) while DKK-1 and sclerostin levels were similar in both groups. Logistic regression analysis revealed WIF-1 as a significant predictor of future cardiovascular events.
Conclusions: Our data suggest that increased SFRP-1 and WIF-1 levels precede the development of symptomatic atherosclerotic disease. Assessment of systemic WIF-1 levels, which turned out to be independently associated with CVD, might help to early identify patients at intermediate cardiovascular risk.
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