Analysis of blood protein data from the study participants in the Women's Health Initiative has revealed new biomarkers for stroke and coronary heart disease.
The study, published online in the journal Genome Medicine, found that beta-2 microglobulin levels were significantly elevated in postmenopausal women with heart disease, and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 4 was strongly associated with stroke.
The Public Health Sciences Division’s Dr. Ross Prentice, principal investigator of the Center-based WHI clinical coordinating center, led the study. He worked with a team of researchers, including PHS investigator Dr. Sam Hanash, to carry out proteomic analyses on samples from 800 women who developed heart disease, 800 who developed stroke and a group of matched controls.
“The two novel markers we identified, B2M and IGFBP4, have the potential to help elucidate hormone therapy effects on the cardiovascular diseases as observed in the WHI randomized controlled trials,” said Prentice, a senior vice president at the Center and director of PHS.
B2M has previously been associated with heart disease risk factors including age, blood pressure, and C-reactive protein, and has been reported to show an inverse association with high-density lipoprotein (healthy) cholesterol, but the researchers’ discovery of elevated B2M levels months or years prior to a heart disease diagnosis is new.
“Blood protein concentrations provide a source for novel disease risk markers that may be modifiable by treatments or other exposures,” said Prentice, who is also a University of Washington biostatistics professor. “Such markers have potential to enhance the understanding of disease progression, and to elucidate the biological processes underlying exposure and disease risk."
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute funded the WHI study.
[Adapted from a Genome Medicine news release]