A Long-term Follow-up Study of Individual Differences in Arterial Stiffening

Researchers: Jun Sugawara, Senior Researcher, Human Informatics Research Institute and Naohiro Noda, Leader, and Satoko Matsukura, Researcher, Biomedical Research Institute


Using a 10-year follow-up study, the researchers evaluated the change in arterial stiffness in 92 persons. They found that increases in arterial stiffness of individuals with specific genetic polymorphisms are 2.4 times larger than increases of the others. They also found that physically-active individuals showed a substantially smaller decadal increase in arterial stiffness than sedentary peers (+5% vs. +13~14%).

Change over 10 years in arterial stiffness (baPWV)


Arterial stiffening increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. AIST reported that regular physical activity, mainly aerobic exercise, can delay or mitigate arterial stiffening and that several genetic polymorphisms influence the effectiveness of the exercise. However, there have been no reports examining the influence of genetic polymorphisms and the effectiveness of regular exercise on age-related change in arterial stiffness in the same person.

New findings

The researchers evaluated decadal changes in arterial stiffness of 92 volunteers who had participated in other experiments in their laboratory about 10 years ago. In addition, the researchers investigated the volunteers’ endothelin-1 (ET)-related gene polymorphisms and regular aerobic physical activity levels. A specific combination of ET-related gene polymorphisms was associated with 2.4 times greater decadal increase in arterial stiffness compared with no genetic risk, suggesting that endothelin-related gene polymorphisms contribute to divergent increases in arterial stiffness with advancing age. In comparison among three (low-, medium- and high-) physical activity groups, the decadal increase in arterial stiffness in the high-physical activity group was less than half of that in the other two groups. Regular sufficient aerobic exercise may attenuate age-related arterial stiffening independently of ET-related gene polymorphisms. The knowledge obtained is potentially useful for developing a new gene marker to identify the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Additionally, the results of this study partly support prevailing evidence that regular aerobic exercise contributes to a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease.

Future plans

The researchers aim to establish an effective screening method and guidelines for physical activity to prevent cardiovascular disease.

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