Plasma levels of matrix metalloproteinase‐9 in a normal population a psychoneuroendocrinological approach
Sammanfattning: Several large‐scale epidemiological studies have demonstrated the prognostic significance of psychosocial factors and stress for coronary artery disease (CAD). Observations of sudden changes in CAD incidence have led to the proposal of mechanisms regarding atherosclerotic plaque vulnerability. The collagen‐degrading enzyme matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) is increased in rupture‐prone plaques with high inflammatory activity, and circulating levels of MMP-9 are raised in patients with acute coronary syndrome. However, the distribution of MMP‐9 levels and its relations to psychosocial factors and the stress hormone cortisol have not been previously explored in a normal population.The aim of this dissertation was to examine in a normal population the association of circulating levels of MMP-9 with traditional cardiovascular risk factors including levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), with psychosocial factors, and with saliva levels of cortisol. In addition, the reliability of a new method of ambulatory saliva sampling for assessment of cortisol levels was evaluated. A sub‐sample of the Life conditions, Stress, and Health (LSH)-study, a population based study exploring psychoneuroendocrinological pathways mediating the differences in CAD incidence over socioeconomic status, was used. Plasma levels of MMP-9 were examined in a sample randomly drawn from the LSH‐study (n=400), aged 45 to 69 years at enrollment.The main findings were: 1) there was a positive association between plasma MMP-9 levels and total risk load of cardiovascular risk factors. The findings were persistent after adjusting for CRP and could not be attributed to a single risk factor. 2) After adjusting for traditional cardiovascular risk factors and CRP, MMP-9 levels were positively associated with psychosocial risk factors and negatively associated with psychosocial resources. 3) Pooling saliva samples prior to laboratory analysis were as reliable as arithmetic means for assessment of diurnal cortisol variation in a field research setting. 4) There was a positive association between circulating levels of MMP‐9 and saliva levels of cortisol, both diurnal peak level and evening level of cortisol. The observed associations between MMP‐9 and traditional cardiovascular risk factors, psychosocial factors, and saliva cortisol levels suggest a psychoneuroendocrinological pathway linking stress to plaque vulnerability and provide increased understanding of the association between psychosocial factors and CAD.
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