Plasma biomarkers of inflammation, endothelial function and haemostasis in cerebral small vessel disease

Stewart Wiseman, Fergus Doubal, Francesca Chappell, Maria Valdes Hernandez, Xin Wang, Ann Rumley, Gordon D. O. Lowe, Martin Dennis, Joanna Wardlaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The cause of lacunar ischemic stroke, a clinical feature of cerebral small vessel disease (SVD), is largely unknown. Inflammation and endothelial dysfunction have been implicated. Plasma biomarkers could provide mechanistic insights but current data are conflicting. White matter hyperintensities (WMHs) are an important imaging biomarker of SVD. It is unknown if plasma biomarkers add predictive capacity beyond age and vascular risk factors in explaining WMH. Methods: We prospectively recruited patients presenting with non-disabling ischemic stroke, classifying them clinically and with the help of MRI as lacunar or cortical. We measured biomarkers of inflammation, endothelial dysfunction and hemostasis for >1 month after stroke and compared biomarker levels between stroke subtypes. We quantitatively calculated WMH. We used multiple linear regression analysis to model WMH as a function of age, sex, hypertension and smoking (the baseline model). We fitted exploratory models using plasma biomarkers as predictor variables to assess model improvement over baseline. Results: We recruited 125 patients. The lacunar group (n = 65) had lower tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) levels in unadjusted (7.39 vs. 8.59 ng/ml, p = 0.029) and adjusted (p = 0.035) analyses compared with the cortical group (n = 60). There were no significant differences in the other plasma biomarkers. The results for t-PA were consistent with an updated meta-analysis, although the effect remains non-significant (standardized mean difference -0.08 (95% CI -0.25 to 0.09)). The baseline regression model explained 29% of the variance in quantitative WMH (R2 0.289). Inflammatory biomarkers showed minor improvement over baseline (R2 0.291), but the other plasma biomarkers did not improve the baseline model. Conclusion: Plasma t-PA levels appear to differ between lacunar and cortical stroke subtypes, late after stroke, independent of age, sex and vascular risk factors and may reflect endothelial dysfunction. Except for a minor additional predictive effect of inflammatory markers, plasma biomarkers do not relate to WMH severity in this small stroke population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-164
JournalCerebrovascular diseases
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015


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