Researchers find biomarkers for heart disease in young adults

The proteomic analysis detected differences in oxidative stress markers

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Cardiovascular diseases, or CVD, are the leading cause of mortality in the United States. As such, early detection of the risk factors for CVD allows for preventive measures to be put in place.

Many of the current risk prediction algorithms place the most emphasis on age as a contributor in developing CVD. Consequently, CVD risks for many younger adults are often underestimated. A recent study from vascular physiopathologists in Spain searched for a new method to estimate CVD risk for this population using a technique called proteomics, by quantifying risk of CVD in young adults based on the proteins found in their plasma. They were particularly interested in oxidative stress markers, because oxidative stress is associated with the development of CVD. Oxidative stress occurs when you have more free radicals than antioxidants in your body, which damages your cells.

The study placed younger adults into three groups: healthy participants, participants with risk factors for CVD, and those who had already experienced a cardiovascular event. Among the proteins found in the participants' plasma samples, the team identified more irreversible oxidation of certain amino acids in those who had experienced a cardiovascular event, compared to healthy adults. 

The results indicate that oxidation is progressive with the development of CVD. Additionally, there were increases in the antioxidant response for both the adults with CVD risk factors and patients who had already experienced a cardiovascular event. This antioxidant boost is assumed to be a response to the increased oxidative stress seen with CVD.

Ultimately, these results revealed exciting findings that both markers of oxidative stress and the antioxidant response are altered in those at risk for CVD. Thus, these biomarkers may be clinically useful in developing better tests to quantify the risk of CVD in young adults.