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Abdominal aortic calcification quantified by the Morphological Atherosclerotic Calcification Distribution (MACD) index is associated with features of the metabolic syndrome

Natasha Barascuk1*, Melanie Ganz12, Mads Nielsen12, Thomas C Register3, Lars M Rasmussen4, Morten A Karsdal1 and Claus Christiansen1

Author Affiliations

1 Nordic Bioscience A/S, Herlev Hovedgade 207, 2730 Herlev, Denmark

2 Department of Computer Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 1, 2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark

3 Department of Physiology, Section on Comparative Medicine, Wake Forest University Medical School, NC, USA

4 Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Odense University Hospital, University of Southern Denmark, 5000 Odense, Denmark

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BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2011, 11:75  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-11-75

Published: 20 December 2011



Abdominal aortic calcifications (AAC) predict cardiovascular mortality. A new scoring model for AAC, the Morphological Atherosclerotic Calcification Distribution (MACD) index may contribute with additional information to the commonly used Aortic Calcification Severity (AC24) score, when predicting death from cardiovascular disease (CVD). In this study we investigated associations of MACD and AC24 with traditional metabolic-syndrome associated risk factors at baseline and after 8.3 years follow-up, to identify biological parameters that may account for the differential performance of these indices.


Three hundred and eight healthy women aged 48 to 76 years, were followed for 8.3 ± 0.3 years. AAC was quantified using lumbar radiographs. Baseline data included age, weight, blood pressure, blood lipids, and glucose levels. Pearson correlation coefficients were used to test for relationships.


At baseline and across all patients, MACD correlated with blood glucose (r2 = 0.1, P< 0.001) and to a lesser, but significant extent with traditional risk factors (p < 0.01) of CVD. In the longitudinal analysis of correlations between baseline biological parameters and the follow-up calcification assessment using radiographs we found LDL-cholesterol, HDL/LDL, and the ApoB/ApoA ratio significantly associated with the MACD (P< 0.01). In a subset of patients presenting with calcification at both baseline and at follow-up, all cholesterol levels were significantly associated with the MACD (P< 0.01) index. AC24 index was not correlated with blood parameters.


Patterns of calcification identified by the MACD, but not the AC24 index, appear to contain useful biological information perhaps explaining part of the improved identification of risk of cardiovascular death of the MACD index. Correlations of MACD but not the AC24 with glucose levels at baseline suggest that hyperglycemia may contribute to unique patterns of calcification indicated by the MACD.

Cardiovascular disease; aortic calcification; risk factors; AAC24