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Hepatocyte growth factor demonstrates racial heterogeneity as a biomarker for coronary heart disease.



To determine if hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), a promising biomarker of coronary heart disease (CHD) given its release into circulation in response to endothelial damage, is associated with subclinical and clinical CHD in a racial/ethnic diverse population.


HGF was measured in 6738 participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Highest mean HGF values (pg/mL) were observed in Hispanic, followed by African, non-Hispanic white, then Chinese Americans.


In all races/ethnicities, HGF levels were associated with older age, higher systolic blood pressure (SBP) and body mass index, lower high-density lipoprotein, diabetes and current smoking. In fully adjusted models, each SD higher HGF was associated with an average increase in coronary artery calcium (CAC) of 55 Agatston units for non-Hispanic whites (p<0.001) and 51 Agatston units for African-Americans (p=0.007) but was not in the other race/ethnic groups (interaction p=0.02). There were 529 incident CHD events, and CHD risk was 41% higher in African (p<0.001), 17% in non-Hispanic white (p=0.026) and Chinese (p=0.36), and 6% in Hispanic Americans (p=0.56) per SD increase in HGF.


In a large and diverse population-based cohort, we report that HGF is associated with subclinical and incident CHD. We demonstrate evidence of racial/ethnic heterogeneity within these associations, as the results are most compelling in African-Americans and non-Hispanic white Americans. We provide evidence that HGF is a biomarker of atherosclerotic disease that is independent of traditional risk factors.

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