Evaluation of the relationship between plaque formation leading to symptomatic carotid artery stenosis and cytomegalovirus by investigating the virus DNA

Arch Med Sci Atheroscler Dis. 2019 Mar 4;4:e19-e24. doi: 10.5114/amsad.2019.83304. eCollection 2019.

Abstract

Introduction: The most common etiologic factor of coronary artery disease (CAD), carotid artery disease, and peripheral artery disease is atherosclerosis. In our study, we aimed to show the effect of cytomegalovirus (CMV), which can occur almost everywhere in the human body, on triggering the chronic inflammatory process in the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis, and its presence and impact in the plaques leading to carotid artery stenosis.

Material and methods: Thirty-six patients, who underwent carotid endarterectomy at the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Istanbul University Istanbul Medical Faculty between April 2017 and April 2018, were included in this study upon their consent. Patients with additional immunosuppressive conditions were not included in the study. Unilateral atheromatous plaque was preferred for patients undergoing bilateral carotid endarterectomy and all risk factors (DM, HT, hyperlipidemia, etc.) were evaluated together for all patients.

Results: When the relationship between CMV (DNA) presence in samples taken from patients' plaques and sex, age and comorbidities was examined, CMV (DNA) positivity (45.8%) was significantly higher in DM patients than non-DM patients (8.3%) (p = 0.024). Likewise, CMV(DNA) positivity (40%) was significantly higher in HT patients than in non-HT patients (25%) (p = 0.008). CMV(DNA) positivity (63%) was significantly higher in patients with bilateral carotid artery stenosis than patients without bilateral carotid artery stenosis (0%) (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: It has not yet been clarified whether CMV is a primary trigger for atherosclerosis on the vascular wall, or whether it presents incidentally due to its affinity. When CMV (DNA) positivity was examined according to the presence of bilateral carotid artery stenosis in our study, CMV (DNA) positivity was found to be significantly higher in patients with bilateral carotid artery stenosis (63.16%).

Keywords: carotid artery stenosis; cytomegalovirus; plaque.