Objective: To investigate the possible involvement of hepatocyte growth factor in arteriosclerotic lesions, by studying the relationship between serum concentrations of hepatocyte growth factor and grades of retinal arteriosclerosis.
Methods: We measured the blood pressure, body mass index, serum concentrations of total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, creatinine, uric acid, total protein, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, lactate dehydrogenase, gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase, alkaline phosphatase, and hepatocyte growth factor, erythrocyte counts, hemoglobin concentration, and hematocrit levels of 112 adults. Serum concentrations of hepatocyte growth factor were measured by a specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. For each subject, photographs of both optic fundi were taken, and the grade of arteriosclerotic changes in the retinal arteries was evaluated according to Scheie's classification.
Results: Individuals with more advanced grades of arteriosclerotic changes had higher serum hepatocyte growth factor values (grade 0, 0.056 +/- 0.004 ng/ml, n = 86; grade 1, 0.132 +/- 0.026 ng/ml, n = 17, P < 0.01, versus grade 0; grade 2-3, 0.271 +/- 0.023 ng/ml, n = 9, P < 0.01, versus grades 0 and 1). The serum hepatocyte growth factor concentrations were also correlated significantly to the serum uric acid concentrations (r = 0.230, P = 0.015) and erythrocyte counts (r = 0.299, P = 0.001), but not to the systolic and diastolic blood pressures, and other physical and humoral parameters.
Conclusions: Serum hepatocyte growth factor levels are thought to indicate the presence or development of arteriosclerotic lesions and may be a useful biochemical parameter for estimating the development of systemic arteriosclerosis irrespective of blood pressure levels.