Association of Sex Hormones With Carotid Artery Distensibility in Men and Postmenopausal Women
Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis
The decline in carotid distensibility with age is steeper in women than in men, however, the correlates of this sex difference are not known. We examined the association of bioavailable testosterone, estradiol, dehydroepiandrosterone, and sex hormone–binding globulin, in 2783 postmenopausal women and 2987 men aged 45 to 84 years at the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis baseline examination. Carotid artery lumen diameters by ultrasound and brachial artery blood pressures were measured at systole and diastole. Regression models to determine the association of carotid distensibility coefficient and lumen diameter with sex-specific quartiles of sex hormones were adjusted for age, race, height, weight, diabetes mellitus, current smoking, antihypertensive medication use, total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, and hormone replacement therapy in women. A higher DC indicates a more distensible vessel. In women, higher dehydroepiandrosterone (P=0.008) and lower sex hormone–binding globulin (P=0.039) were associated with lower distensibility; higher dehydroepiandrosterone and lower estradiol were associated with smaller carotid diameters. In men, higher Bio-T (P=0.009) and lower estradiol (P=0.007) were associated with greater distensibility and also with smaller diameters (P=0.012 and 0.002, respectively). An androgenic internal milieu is associated with lesser carotid distensibility and diameter remodeling in women, but the opposite is true for men. Higher levels of estradiol are associated with smaller carotid diameters in both the sexes. Future longitudinal and experimental studies are needed to reveal the mechanism and clinical consequences of these associations.
- Received October 29, 2014.
- Revision received November 10, 2014.
- Accepted February 16, 2015.
- © 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.