This article finds that using biomarkers (like C-reactive protein and homosyteine) to help predict the risks of patients developing life-threatening cardiovascular disease have only marginal advantages over traditional risk factor analysis.
Few investigations have evaluated the incremental usefulness of multiple biomarkers from distinct biologic pathways for predicting the risk of cardiovascular events.
We measured 10 biomarkers in 3209 participants attending a routine examination cycle of the Framingham Heart Study: the levels of C-reactive protein, B-type natriuretic peptide, N-terminal proľatrial natriuretic peptide, aldosterone, renin, fibrinogen, D-dimer, plasminogen-activator inhibitor type 1, and homocysteine; and the urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio.
During follow-up (median, 7.4 years), 207 participants died and 169 had a first major cardiovascular event. In Cox proportional-hazards models adjusting for conventional risk factors, the following biomarkers most strongly predicted the risk of death (each biomarker is followed by the adjusted hazard ratio per 1 SD increment in the log values): B-type natriuretic peptide level (1.40), C-reactive protein level (1.39), the urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio (1.22), homocysteine level (1.20), and renin level (1.17). The biomarkers that most strongly predicted major cardiovascular events were B-type natriuretic peptide level (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.25 per 1 SD increment in the log values) and the urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio (1.20). Persons with "multimarker" scores (based on regression coefficients of significant biomarkers) in the highest quintile as compared with those with scores in the lowest two quintiles had elevated risks of death (adjusted hazard ratio, 4.08; P<0.001) and major cardiovascular events (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.84; P = 0.02). However, the addition of multimarker scores to conventional risk factors resulted in only small increases in the ability to classify risk, as measured by the C statistic.
The authors conclude that "for assessing risk in individual persons, the use of the 10 contemporary biomarkers that we studied adds only moderately to standard risk factors."