Objective: Endothelial cell (EC) dysfunction is a well-established response to cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as smoking and obesity. Risk factor exposure can modify EC signaling and behavior, leading to arterial and venous disease development. Here, we aimed to identify biomarker panels for the assessment of EC dysfunction, which could be useful for risk stratification or to monitor treatment response. Approach and Results: We used affinity proteomics to identify EC proteins circulating in plasma that were associated with cardiovascular disease risk factor exposure. Two hundred sixteen proteins, which we previously predicted to be EC-enriched across vascular beds, were measured in plasma samples (N=1005) from the population-based SCAPIS (Swedish Cardiopulmonary Bioimage Study) pilot. Thirty-eight of these proteins were associated with body mass index, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, smoking, hypertension, or diabetes. Sex-specific analysis revealed that associations predominantly observed in female- or male-only samples were most frequently with the risk factors body mass index, or total cholesterol and smoking, respectively. We show a relationship between individual cardiovascular disease risk, calculated with the Framingham risk score, and the corresponding biomarker profiles.
Conclusions: EC proteins in plasma could reflect vascular health status.
Keywords: cardiovascular diseases; endothelium; hypertension; risk factors; smoking.