Soluble CD40 ligand expression in stable atherosclerosis: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Tiago Pereira-da-Silva, Vera Ferreira, Alexandra Castelo, Daniel Caldeira, Patrícia Napoleão, Teresa Pinheiro, Rui Cruz Ferreira, Miguel Mota Carmo

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Background and aims: The role of inflammation in atherosclerosis development and expression in different arterial territories is unclear. Soluble CD40 ligand (sCD40L) mediates inflammation and atherogenesis. Through a systematic review and meta-analysis, we assessed whether sCD40L was dysregulated in stable atherosclerosis, irrespective of the diseased arterial territory, and whether this dysregulation differed according to the specific territory. Methods: Systematic literature searches were performed in MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, and Embase for studies reporting circulating sCD40L levels in individuals with and without stable atherosclerosis. sCD40L levels were compared using random-effects meta-analysis, weighted by the inverse variance method (study protocol: PROSPERO CRD42020181392). Results: Fifty-four studies (59 estimates) including 7705 patients and 7841 controls were analyzed. sCD40L levels were found to be increased in patients with atherosclerosis, irrespective of the territory (standardized mean difference [SMD] 0.43, 95% CI 0.29–0.57; 59 estimates; χ2 heterogeneity p < 0.001; I2 = 92%). SMD was greatest in carotid atherosclerosis (SMD 0.58, 95% CI 0.30–0.86; 17 estimates), followed by coronary (SMD 0.43, 95% CI 0.24–0.62; 33 estimates), lower extremity (SMD 0.26, 95% CI -0.02–0.54; 7 estimates), and renal atherosclerosis (SMD -0.07, 95% CI -2.77–2.64; 2 estimates) (χ2 heterogeneity p < 0.001; I2 ≥ 80% for all). Subgroup analysis revealed that sCD40L levels were increased in clinical, but not subclinical, atherosclerosis. Conclusions: sCD40L levels were increased in stable atherosclerosis, particularly in the carotid and coronary territories. These novel data support sCD40L as a marker of systemic atherosclerosis, possibly with differential roles in specific territories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-100
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Carotid artery disease
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Inflammation
  • Lower extremity arterial disease
  • Renal artery disease
  • Soluble CD40 ligand


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