Soluble ST2 (sST2) is an emerging prognostic biomarker in patients with existing cardiovascular disease. ST2 and its ligand, interleukin-33 (IL-33), are expressed in endothelial cells, and may play an important role in the development of early atherosclerosis and vascular biology. We sought to investigate the association of sST2 and progression of blood pressure (BP), as well as the development of hypertension.
Circulating sST2 concentrations were measured in 1834 participants (mean age 56 years, 57% women) of the community-based Framingham Offspring study. Participants were free of hypertension at baseline. Multivariable linear and logistic regression models were used to evaluate the association of sST2 concentrations and subsequent BP outcomes.
Higher sST2 concentrations were associated with incident hypertension over 3 years of follow-up [multivariable-adjusted odds ratio per 1 standard deviation increase in sST2 1.22, 95% confidence interval 1.05–1.42, P = 0.01]. Individuals in the upper sST2 quartile had a 2.6 mmHg greater increase in SBP compared with those in the lowest quartile (P for trend across quartiles 0.002) and a 1.8 mmHg greater increase in pulse pressure (P for trend 0.005). In contrast, sST2 concentrations were not associated with changes in DBP (P = 0.27).
These findings suggest that sST2 concentrations predict changes in BP physiology typically seen with aging and progressive arterial stiffness. Further studies are needed to elucidate underlying mechanisms by which the ST2/IL-33 pathway may contribute to BP physiology.