Ceramides and phospholipids in plasma extracellular vesicles are associated with high risk of major cardiovascular events after carotid endarterectomy

Nathalie Timmerman, Farahnaz Waissi, Mirthe Dekker, Gert J. de Borst, Joelle van Bennekom, Robbert J. de Winter, Mika Hilvo, Antti Jylhä, Gerard Pasterkamp, Dominique P. V. de Kleijn, Reijo Laaksonen

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Ceramides and phosphatidylcholines (PCs) are bioactive lipids and lipid bilayer membrane components. Distinct ceramides/PCs (ratios) predict cardiovascular outcome in patients with coronary artery disease. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are proposed biomarkers for cardiovascular disease and contain ceramides/PCs. Ceramides/PCs have not been studied in patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy (CEA) nor in EVs. We therefore investigated whether levels of ceramides/PCs in plasma and EVs are associated with postoperative risk of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) following CEA. In 873 patients undergoing CEA of the Athero-Express biobank, we quantitatively measured seven ceramides/PCs in preoperative blood samples: Cer(d18:1/16:0), Cer(d18:1/18:0), Cer(d18:1/24:0), Cer(d18:1/24:1), PC(14:0/22:6), PC(16:0/16:0) and PC(16:0/22:5) in plasma and two plasma EV-subfractions (LDL and TEX). We analyzed the association of ceramides, PCs and their predefined ratios with the three-year postoperative risk of MACE (including stroke, myocardial infarction and cardiovascular death). A total of 138 patients (16%) developed MACE during the three-year follow-up. In the LDL-EV subfraction, higher levels of Cer(d18:1/24:1) and Cer(d18:1/16:0)/PC(16:0/22:5) ratio were significantly associated with an increased risk of MACE (adjusted HR per SD [95% CI] 1.24 [1.01–1.53] and 1.26 [1.04–1.52], respectively). In the TEX-EV subfraction, three ratios Cer(d18:1/16:0)/Cer(d18:1/24:0), Cer(d18:1/18:0)/Cer(d18:1/24:0) and Cer(d18:1/24:1)/Cer(d18:1/24:0) were positively associated with MACE (adjusted HR per SD 1.34 [1.06–1.70], 1.24 [1.01–1.51] and 1.31 [1.08–1.58], respectively). In conclusion, distinct ceramides and PCs in plasma EVs determined in preoperative blood were independently associated with an increased 3-year risk of MACE after CEA. These lipids are therefore potential markers to identify high-risk CEA patients qualifying for secondary preventive add-on therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5521
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022

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