Objectives: Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) insertion/deletion (I/D) polymorphism has been shown to be an independent risk factor for myocardial infarction and other cardiovascular diseases. The aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between ACE genotype and carotid atherosclerosis evaluated by ultrasonography.
Patients and methods: ACE I/D polymorphism was determined in 240 low-risk patients (mean age 53.6 +/- 7 years) in relation to traditional risk factors and the degree of carotid atherosclerosis. Intimal-medial thickness was measured at the level of the common carotid artery, bifurcation and internal carotid on both sides. Patients were defined as normal (n = 47, intimal-medial thickness <1.0 mm), thickened (n = 56, intimal-medial thickness > or = 1.0 and < or = 1.3 mm in the thickest wall) or with an atherosclerotic plaque (n = 137, intimal-medial thickness >1.3 mm for at least one level of examination). Age, sex, body mass index, blood pressure levels and prevalence of other risk factors were similar in the three groups. I/D polymorphism was determined by polymerase chain reaction using specific primers and genomic DNA from leukocytes as template. Plasma ACE levels, plasma renin activity and plasma aldosterone were evaluated in all patients by standard procedures.
Results: No significant differences were found in humoral parameters, ACE, genotype distribution and the corresponding allele frequency among the three groups of patients. Only ACE plasma levels were significantly higher in the DD and ID genotypes compared with the II genotype (DD 14.27 +/- 5.05 IU/ml, ID 12.70 +/- 4.31 IU/ml; II 8.04 +/- 3.45 IU/ml). The mean intimal-medial thickness was similar in all three genotypes.
Conclusion: Although ACE genotype has been shown to be related to coronary atherosclerosis, the present data do not indicate that the DD genotype is associated with carotid atherosclerosis. However, further studies of larger populations are needed to clarify whether genetic ACE polymorphism is associated with carotid atherosclerosis.