Atherosclerosis contributes to the majority of deaths related to cardiovascular disease (CVD). Recently, the nonspecific inflammatory biomarker soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR) has shown prognostic value in patients with CVD; however, it remains unclear whether suPAR participates in the disease process. In this issue of the JCI, Hindy and colleagues report on their evaluation of a multi-ethnic cohort of over 5,000 participants without known CVD. High suPAR levels correlated with incident CVD and atherosclerosis. Genetic analysis revealed two variants associated with the suPAR-encoding gene (PLAUR) with higher plasma suPAR levels. Notably, a mouse model with high suPAR levels possessed aortic tissue with a proinflammatory phenotype, including monocytes with enhanced chemotaxis similar to that seen in atherogenesis. These findings suggest a causal relationship between suPAR and coronary artery calcification and have clinical implications that extend to inflammatory disorders beyond CVD.
Traci T. Goodchild, Zhen Li, David J. Lefer
suPAR has a causative role in atherogenesis and CVD.