Physical activity is associated with a large number of cardiovascular-specific proteins: Cross-sectional analyses in two independent cohorts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aims: We aimed to discover and replicate associations between leisure-time physical activity and cardiovascular candidate plasma protein biomarkers and to examine whether the associations were independent of body fat. Methods: We used cross-sectional data from two population-based cohorts, the EpiHealth (discovery cohort; n = 2239) and the Swedish Mammography Cohort – Clinical (SMCC; replication cohort; n = 4320). Physical activity during leisure time was assessed using questionnaires, and plasma concentrations of 184 proteins were assayed using the Olink Proseek Multiplex Cardiovascular 2 and 3 kits. We applied adjusted linear regression models using the False Discovery Rate to control for multiple testing in discovery. Results: In EpiHealth, physical activity was associated with 75 cardiovascular plasma biomarkers, of which 28 associations were verified (replicated) in SMCC. Findings include seven novel associations in human: paraoxonase 3, cystatin B, cathepsin Z, alpha-L-iduronidase, prostasin, growth differentiation factor 2 and tumour necrosis factor alpha receptor superfamily member 11A. Estimates for associations were similar across tertiles of body fat and physical activity was associated with four biomarkers independent of body fat percentage: paraoxonase 3, cystatin B, fatty acid-binding protein 4 and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist. Conclusion: Leisure-time physical activity was associated with 28 cardiovascular-specific proteins; four associations were independent of body fat. Biomarkers in novel associations are involved in several atherosclerotic processes including regulation of low-density lipoprotein oxidation, protein degradation and immune cell adhesion and migration. Further research into these pathways may yield new insights into how physical activity affects cardiovascular health.


  • Karl Stattin
  • Lars Lind
  • Sölve Elmståhl
  • Alicja Wolk
  • Eva Warensjö Lemming
  • Håkan Melhus
  • Karl Michaëlsson
  • Liisa Byberg
External organisations
  • Uppsala University
  • Karolinska Institutet
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Medicinal Chemistry


  • biomarkers, cardiovascular disease, exercise, Physical activity, proteins, proteomics
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1865-1873
JournalEuropean Journal of Preventive Cardiology
Issue number17
Early online date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch