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Proteomics and Risk of Atrial Fibrillation in Older Adults (From the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities [ARIC] Study)

      Plasma proteomic profiling may aid in the discovery of novel biomarkers upstream of the development of atrial fibrillation (AF). We used data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study to examine the relation between large-scale proteomics and incident AF in a cohort of older-aged adults in the United States. We quantified 4,877 plasma proteins in Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities participants at visit 5 (2011–2013) using an aptamer-based proteomic profiling platform. We used Cox proportional hazards models to assess the association between protein levels and incident AF, and explored relation of selected protein biomarkers using annotated pathway analysis. Our study included 4,668 AF-free participants (mean age 75 ± 5 years; 59% female; 20% Black race) with proteomic measures. A total of 585 participants developed AF over a mean follow-up of 5.7 ± 1.7 years. After adjustment for clinical factors associated with AF, N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) was associated with the risk of incident AF (hazard ratio, 1.82; 95% CI, 1.68 to 1.98; p, 2.91 × 10−45 per doubling of NT-proBNP). In addition, 36 other proteins were also significantly associated with incident AF after Bonferroni correction. We further adjusted for medication use and estimated glomerular filtration rate and found 17 proteins, including angiopoietin-2 and transgelin, that remained significantly associated with incident AF. Pathway analyses implicated the inhibition of matrix metalloproteases as the top canonical pathway in AF pathogenesis. In conclusion, using a large-scale proteomic platform, we identified both novel and established proteins associated with incident AF and explored mechanistic pathways of AF development.
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