Aim: Advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) have been involved in the atherogenic process in the high-risk population. The goal of this study was to demonstrate that AGEs are related to subclinical atheromatous disease in subjects with low to moderate vascular risk.
Methods: A cross-sectional study in which 2,568 non-diabetic subjects of both sexes without cardiovascular disease were included. Subcutaneous content of AGEs was assessed by skin autofluorescence (SAF) and subclinical atheromatous disease was measured by assessing the atheromatous plaque burden in carotid and femoral regions using ultrasonography. In addition, serum pentosidine, carboxymethyl-lysine (CML) and AGE receptors (RAGE) were assessed in a nested case-control study with 41 subjects without plaque and 41 individuals subjects with generalized disease.
Results: Patients with atheromatous plaque had a higher SAF than those with no plaque (1.9 [1.7 to 2.3] vs. 1.8 [1.6 to 2.1] arbitrary units (AU), p＜0.001). The SAF correlated with the total number of affected regions (r= 0.171, p＜0.001), increasing progressively from 1.8 [1.6 to 2.1] AU in those without atheromatous disease to 2.3 [1.9 to 2.7] AU in patients with ≥ 8 plaques (p＜0.001). A correlation was also observed between SAF and the total plaque area (r=0.113, p＜0.001). The area under the Receiver Operating Characteristic curve was 0.65 (0.61 to 0.68) for identifying male subjects with atheromatous disease. The multivariable logistic regression model showed a significant and independent association between SAF and the presence of atheromatous disease. However, no significant differences in serum pentosidine, CML, and RAGE were observed.
Conclusions: Increased subcutaneous content of AGEs is associated with augmented atheromatous plaque burden. Our results suggest that SAF may provide clinically relevant information to the current strategies for the evaluation of cardiovascular risk, especially among the male population.
Keywords: Advanced glycation end-products; Atheromatous plaque burden; Cardiovascular risk; Skin autofluorescence.