Atherosclerosis impacts the link between hepatocyte growth factor and cognition

Nermien N. Adly 1, Wessam H. El-kawaly 1, Hoda A. Abdelsattar 2

1 Geriatrics and Gerontology department, Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt; 2 Clinical pathology department, Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt

Background. There is a controversy about the association between Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and cognition. Increased serum level of HGF has been reported in patients with hypertension, peripheral arteriosclerosis and carotid atherosclerosis. Ankle-brachial index (ABI) is considered as a marker of atherosclerosis. we hypothesized that hypertension or atherosclerosis with hypertension could alter the relation between HGF serum level and cognitive function.

Aim. To study HGF and cognitive function in hypertensives with and without atherosclerosis versus healthy controls. 

Methods. This case-control study included ninety elderly subjects attending outpatient primary care geriatric clinics. They were subdivided into 3 groups; Group A (30 normotensives with normal Ankle-brachial index (ABI) as controls, group B (30 hypertensives with normal ABI) and group C (30 hypertensives with abnormal ABI) as cases. Cognitive function was assessed by Rowland Universal Dementia Assessment Scale (RUDAS). 

Results. Group C had worse score in RUDAS than controls (P = 0.01). HGF was negatively correlated with ABI in group C (p = 0.007). HGF was positively associated with RUDAS score, in group A (p < 0.001), in group B; after further adjustment for systolic blood pressure (SBP) (p = 0.024) and in group C; after adjustment for ABI (p = 0.031) or ABI and SBP (p = 0.05). 

Conclusions. The potential beneficial link between HGF serum concentration and cognition was met in normotensive subjects with normal ABI. However, this link is halted in the presence of hypertension or atherosclerosis as assessed by ABI. Alternatively, the raised HGF serum level may be an epiphenomenon of atherosclerosis. 

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