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Patients With Coronary Microvascular Dysfunction Have Less Circulating α-Klotho.

BACKGROUND: Coronary microvascular dysfunction (CMD) represents an early functional characteristic of coronary vascular aging. Klotho (α-klotho) is a circulating protein inversely linked to physiological aging. We examined low klotho as a potential marker for vascular aging in patients with CMD and no coronary artery disease.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Patients undergoing nonurgent angiogram for chest pain who had no coronary artery disease underwent invasive coronary microvascular and endothelial function testing. CMD was defined by ≤50% increase in coronary blood flow (percentage change in coronary blood flow) in response to intracoronary acetylcholine or coronary flow reserve ≤2. Fresh arterial whole blood was used to analyze circulating endothelial progenitor cells with flow cytometry. Stored arterial plasma was used for klotho analysis by ELISA. Participants with CMD (n=62) were compared with those without CMD (n=36). Those with CMD were age 55±10 years (versus 51±11 years; P =0.07) and 73% women (versus 81%; P =0.38). Traditional risk factors for coronary artery disease were similar between groups. Patients with CMD had less klotho (0.88±1.50 versus 1.75±2.38 ng/mL; P =0.03), and the odds of low klotho in CMD were significant in a logistic regression model after adjusting for traditional cardiovascular risk factors (odds ratio [OR], 0.80 [95% CI, 0.636-0.996]; P =0.05). Higher klotho was associated with higher numbers of endothelial progenitor cells with vascular regenerative potential (CD34+ and CD34+ CD133+ KDR+ ). Among a subgroup of patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk <5% (n=58), CMD remained associated with lower klotho (OR, 0.80 [95% CI, 0.636-0.996]; P =0.047).

CONCLUSIONS: Klotho may be a biomarker for CMD and may be a therapeutic target for groups of patients without significant traditional cardiovascular risk.

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