Leukocyte count is associated with reduced endothelial reactivity

Mitchell S.V. Elkind, Robert R. Sciacca, Bernadette Boden-Albala, Maria Lucia C. Tondella, Daniel R. Feikin, Barry S. Fields, Ralph L. Sacco, Marco R. Di Tullio, Shunichi Homma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background: Leukocyte count has been associated with cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease in several studies. We hypothesized that white blood cell count is associated with endothelial reactivity. Methods and results: Leukocyte count was measured in a sample of stroke-free community participants undergoing brachial artery testing for endothelial reactivity. Flow-mediated dilation (FMD) during reactive hyperemia was assessed in each subject using high-resolution B-mode ultrasound. Multivariate linear regression was used to calculate the effect of leukocyte count on endothelial reactivity after adjusting for potential confounding factors. Mean age of the 868 participants was 66.7 ± 8.8 years; 57% were women. Mean leukocyte count was (6.1 ± 1.8) × 109/L. Each unit increase in leukocyte count was associated with a mean 0.18% decrease in FMD (p = 0.01). After adjusting for other atherosclerosis risk factors, including age, sex, hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and smoking, the relationship persisted (mean decrease in FMD per unit leukocyte count = 0.17%, p = 0.02). There was a linear decrease in FMD by quartile of leukocyte count (p = 0.0014). The effect of leukocyte count on FMD was greater for women, those under age 70, and non-diabetics. Conclusions: Relative elevations in leukocyte count are associated with a reduction in brachial artery endothelial reactivity. These findings are consistent with current hypotheses regarding the inflammatory or infectious etiology of risk of atherosclerosis and stroke, but also suggest interactions with demographic and other risk factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-338
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Endothelial reactivity
  • Epidemiology
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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