Role of plasma extracellular vesicles in prediction of cardiovascular risk and alterations in response to statin therapy in hypertensive patients

S. Oggero, T. Godec, R. van Gorp, L.A. Pinto, J.L. Schurgers, C. Reutelingsperger, P. Sever, L.V. Norling, M. Perretti, A. Gupta*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Rapid and accurate new biomarkers to predict risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) are essential. The utility of extracellular vesicles in predicting the CVD risk is postulated, yet it remains unknown whether their expression is altered in response to statin therapy. Methods: We performed in-vitro studies with human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) and vascular smooth muscle cells (hVSMC), and conducted a nested case-control study (nCCS) in hypertensive patients (n = 40) randomized to either atorvastatin or placebo in the ASCOT-LLA. Cases had a major adverse cardiovascular event or death (MACE) during 3.5 years of follow-up (median) from the time of extracellular vesicle characterization while controls, matched for age and duration of treatment, remained event-free. Conditional logistic regression models determined the risk of MACE. Additionally, the relationship of extracellular vesicle levels with statin therapy was assessed. Results: Added to HUVEC, extracellular vesicles increased neutrophil recruitment, and to hVSMC, aggravated calcification and proliferation. In the nCCS, compared with controls, cases (i.e. with MACE) had preceding higher levels of CD14+ and CD14+/CD41+ extracellular vesicles (P = 0.009 and P = 0.012, respectively) and a significant reduction in the median size of the vesicles (P = 0.037). On matched analysis, higher CD14+ extracellular vesicles were associated with a 3.7-fold increased risk of MACE (P = 0.032). Patients treated with atorvastatin (vs. placebo) had both reduced size of extracellular vesicles and the proportion of CD146+ extracellular vesicles (P = 0.034 and P = 0.020, respectively). Conclusion and relevance: These pilot analyses suggest a mechanistic role for extracellular vesicles in the development of CVD, with significant and differential changes in extracellular vesicles amongst those at risk of MACE, and those on atorvastatin therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1522-1529
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hypertension
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022


  • cardiovascular risk
  • extracellular vesicles
  • hypertension
  • monocyte
  • platelet


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