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15-03-2011 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Link between hsCRP, the metabolic syndrome varies by ethnicity


Free abstract

MedWire News: Study findings suggest that high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) levels are elevated among adolescents with the metabolic syndrome, but that the degree of elevation varies by ethnicity.

Mark DeBoer (University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA) and colleagues show that compared with non-Hispanic White, diagnosis of the metabolic syndrome in non-Hispanic Black adolescents is associated with disproportionately high levels of hsCRP protein, a key marker of inflammation.

"These data may indicate that non-Hispanic Black adolescents with the metabolic syndrome have a more advanced inflammatory condition than non-Hispanic Whites," write the authors in the journal Diabetes Care.

"Therefore, even though the metabolic syndrome has a paradoxically low prevalence in non-Hispanic Blacks, the metabolic syndrome may be a particularly good indicator of inflammation in non-Hispanic Black adolescents," they suggest.

Using data from the 1999-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the team evaluated the relationship between the metabolic syndrome and hsCRP on the basis of ethnicity in 3559 male and female adolescents, aged between 12 and 19 years.

The metabolic syndrome was defined using a pediatric/adolescent adaptation of the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel (NCEP ATP)-III criteria.

Overall, the metabolic syndrome was present in 8.4% of individuals, with prevalence higher in men than women (11.0% vs 5.5%, respectively), and among non-Hispanic Whites and Hispanics, compared with non-Hispanic Blacks (8.6% and 10.8% vs 4.5%, respectively).

However, among non-Hispanic Blacks there was a greater elevation in adolescents with than without the metabolic syndrome, compared with non-Hispanic Whites; the difference in hsCRP, as expressed by the ratio of geometric means of hsCRP, was 4.8 in non-Hispanic Blacks compared with 3.5 in Hispanics and 3.0 in non-Hispanic Whites.

Correlations between hsCRP and individual components of the metabolic syndrome were similar in all three ethnic groups. However, among individuals diagnosed with the metabolic syndrome, non-Hispanic Blacks had a significantly higher body mass index and a higher frequency of hypertension than those from other ethnicities, which the team says could explain the elevated hsCRP levels observed in these adolescents.

"There remains a great need for specific diagnostic tools to assess inflammation-related and metabolic syndrome-related risk among adolescents of all ethnic groups," the researchers conclude.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Nikki Withers

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