OBJECTIVE: Atherosclerosis and vascular remodeling after injury are driven by inflammation and mononuclear cell infiltration. Unstable atherosclerotic plaques are characterized by a large necrotic core. In this study we investigated the distribution and interaction between gene polymorphisms encoding proinflammatory molecules in an Italian population with internal carotid artery stenosis (ICAS). We also evaluated whether reciprocal interaction between these gene polymorphisms increased the risk of plaque vulnerability. METHODS: In this genetic association study, 11 proinflammatory gene polymorphisms were analyzed in 933 individuals comprising 344 patients with ICAS who underwent carotid endarterectomy and 589 controls without ultrasound evidence of atherosclerosis or intimal thickening. RESULTS: We found that interleukin (IL) 6 (IL-6), IL-1β, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (CCL2) macrophage inflammatory protein-1α (CCL3), E-selectin (SELE), intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM1), and matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP-3), and 9 (MMP-9) gene variants were independently and significantly associated with ICAS. The association remained significant even after the Bonferroni correction. We also found a genetic profile associated with different risks for ICAS, depending on the number of high-risk genotypes simultaneously present in an individual. Furthermore, proinflammatory genetic profiles are significantly more common in individuals with unstable carotid plaque. CONCLUSIONS: Our study shows, for the first time, a reciprocal interaction between proinflammatory genotypes for the development and progression of ICAS.
- Plaque vulnerability