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Wiley Open Access, Journal of the American Heart Association, 3(9), 2020

DOI: 10.1161/jaha.119.014170



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Wnt Pathway Gene Expression Is Associated With Arterial Stiffness

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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Background Animal and in vitro experiments implicate the Wnt pathway in cardiac development, fibrosis, vascular calcification, and atherosclerosis, but research in humans is lacking. We examined peripheral blood Wnt pathway gene expression and arterial stiffness in 369 healthy African ancestry men (mean age, 64 years). Methods and Results Gene expression was assessed using a custom Nanostring nC ounter gene expression panel (N=43 genes) and normalized to housekeeping genes and background signal. Arterial stiffness was assessed via brachial‐ankle pulse‐wave velocity. Fourteen Wnt genes showed detectable expression and were tested individually as predictors of pulse‐wave velocity using linear regression, adjusting for age, height, weight, blood pressure, medication use, resting heart rate, current smoking, alcohol intake, and sedentary lifestyle. Adenomatous polyposis coli regulator of Wnt signaling pathway ( APC ), glycogen synthase kinase 3β ( GSK 3B ), and transcription factor 4 ( TCF 4 ) were significantly associated with arterial stiffness ( P <0.05 for all). When entered into a single model, APC and TCF 4 expression remained independently associated with arterial stiffness ( P =0.04 and 0.003, respectively), and each explained ≈3% of the variance in pulse‐wave velocity. Conclusions The current study establishes a novel association between in vivo expression of the Wnt pathway genes, APC and TCF 4 , with arterial stiffness in African ancestry men, a population at high risk of hypertensive vascular disease.