Background: High red cell distribution width (RDW) has been increasingly recognized as a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), but the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. Our aim was to explore the associations between RDW and plasma proteins implicated in the pathogenesis of CVD using a targeted proteomics panel. Methods: RDW and 88 plasma proteins were measured in a population-based cohort study (n = 4726), Malmö Diet and Cancer-Cardiovascular Cohort (MDC-CC). A random 2/3 of the cohort was used as discovery sample and remaining 1/3 was used for replication. Multiple linear regression was used to assess the associations between RDW and plasma proteins, with adjustments for age, sex, and other potential confounders. Proteins with Bonferroni-corrected significant associations with RDW in the discovery sub-cohort were validated in the replication cohort. Results: Thirteen of 88 plasma proteins had significant associations with RDW in the discovery sample, after multivariate adjustments. Eleven of them were also significant in the replication sample, including SIR2-like protein 2 (SIRT2), stem cell factor (SCF, inversely), melusin (ITGB1BP2), growth differentiation factor-15 (GDF-15), matrix metalloproteinase-7 (MMP-7), hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), chitinase-3-like protein 1 (CHI3L1), interleukin-8 (IL-8), CD40 ligand (CD40-L), urokinase plasminogen activator surface receptor (U-PAR) and matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP-3). Conclusions: Several proteins from this targeted proteomics panel were associated with RDW in this cohort. These proteins could potentially be linked to the increased cardiovascular risk in individuals with high RDW.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12
JournalClinical Proteomics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems
  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology

Free keywords

  • Cardiovascular panel
  • Plasma proteomics
  • Population-based
  • Red cell distribution width


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