- Ischemic stroke occurs when there is a block in the blood supply to the brain
- Scientists have found elevated levels of beta-2 microglobulin protein in the blood to increase stroke risk in women
- Further research is to be done to find out if the beta-2 microglobulin levels could be modified
Elevated levels of beta-2 microglobulin protein in the blood could increase the risk of ischemic stroke in women, finds a new study published in the journal Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Ischemic stroke is a common type of stroke that occurs when there is a blockage in the blood supply to the brain. The protein could also be a marker for inflammation.
‘Higher levels of beta-2 microglobulin protein in the blood have been found to be associated with an increased risk of stroke in women.’
Pamela Rist, ScD, Brigham Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, said,"Recent studies have found associations between beta-2 microglobulin and heart disease."
"However, less is known about the association between beta-2 microglobulin and ischemic stroke."
The research study conducted on women who enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study, with an average age of 61 years, provided blood samples between 1989-1990. They had no history of stroke or cancer.
The study participants were asked to complete questionnaires about their lifestyle and medical history for every two years.
Possible Link to Stroke
To understand the possible association of beta-2 microglobulin with stroke, the research team measured the protein levels in about 473 study participants who had an ischemic stroke and participants who did not have a stroke.
The study results were also matched based on other factors which could increase the stroke risk. The stroke occurred at an average of nine years after the study.
The findings revealed that:
Participants who had an ischemic stroke had higher levels of beta-2 microglobulin protein than those who did not have a stroke.
The level of protein was 1.86 milligrams per liter in people with stroke when compared to 1.80mg/L in those who did not have a stroke.
The participants were divided into four groups based on the protein levels.Women with the highest quarter of beta-2 microglobulin levels had a 56% increased risk of stroke when compared to the bottom quarter.
Out of the 283 women, around 163 of them had strokes in the top quarter and of the 227 women, 106 participants had stroke in the bottom quarter.
The study results were adjusted for factors which could affect stroke risk. This could include physical activity, high blood pressure and diabetes.
The study was conducted only on white women and it could not find any changes in the protein levels.
Rist, said, "Given the high rate of disability from stroke, it is important to identify people who may be at higher risk of this disease. This protein could be a marker that might help us in the fight against stroke."
"Further studies are needed to determine if beta-2 microglobulin levels can be modified through lifestyle changes."