People with reduced arterial elasticity may have impaired lung function, and vice versa, say US researchers.
This suggests "parallel physiological pathways for elastic changes in the vasculature and in lung parenchymal tissue," say Daniel Duprez (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis) and colleagues in Hypertension.
"A common process could be a loss of arterial elasticity, particularly in the small arteries, and of elastic recoil of the lung tissue," they add.
The researchers studied data on 1823 women and 1803 men from the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, aged from 45 to 84 years at baseline. They found that lung function measured around 5 years after baseline rose in line with baseline measurements of arterial elasticity, assessed by radial artery tonometric pulse waveform registration.
The strongest association was with small-arterial elasticity; each standard deviation increase (2.9 mL/mmHgx100) was associated with a 40 mL increase in forced vital capacity (FVC). There was a similar relationship between small-arterial elasticity and forced expiratory volume in 1 second, and both associations were significantly stronger in men than in women.
The findings were similar for large-arterial elasticity, although the associations were slightly weaker overall, and did not differ between men and women.
This loss of function in the vasculature and lung tended to be accompanied by increases in biomarkers of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, reports the team. Elevated levels of a range of inflammatory and endothelial markers were related to reduced FVC in both genders, with each standard deviation increase of a marker associated with a 30-40 mL decrease in FVC.
In men, reduced small-arterial elasticity was associated with increased levels of C-reactive protein and interleukin 6.
"Although the vasculature and the lung are distinct body systems, early detection of decrease in arterial elasticity and lung function can each be helpful diagnostic steps in preventing both future CVD and pulmonary disease," say Duprez et al.
They speculate that fibrosis plays a major part in declining function in these systems. "The study of fibrotic markers in relation to arterial stiffness and decline in lung function should be investigated, with a goal toward development of potential anti-inflammatory and antifibrotic therapy in early stages of CVD and lung disease."
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