The aim of this study was to investigate whether soluble adhesion molecule levels differ by ethnic group. Soluble plasma adhesion molecules [soluble P-selectin (sP-selectin), soluble E-selectin (sE-selectin), soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1) and soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1)] were measured in 261 white (120 females), 188 African origin (99 females) and 215 South Asian (99 females) individuals living in England. All were free from coronary heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular disease, diabetes, drug therapy for hypertension or high lipids, hormone-replacement therapy or oral contraceptive pill. The results of the study indicated that there were important differences in the levels of adhesion molecules by sex and smoking. However, when adjusting for these and other potential confounders, there were no differences in levels between white subjects and individuals of South Asian origin. In contrast, people of African origin had significantly lower levels of sICAM-1 [Caribbean -30% (-36 to -23%); West African -22% (-29 to -15%), values are means (95% confidence intervals)], sVCAM-1 [Caribbean -14% (-19 to -8%); West African -10% (-17 to -3%)] and sP-selectin [Caribbean -10% (-17 to -2%); West African -24% (-31 to -16%)] than white individuals. In conclusion, circulating levels of some soluble adhesion molecules are lower in individuals of Caribbean or West African origin compared with white or South Asian individuals. These relationships may contribute to the low risk of coronary heart disease seen in people of African origin living in England.

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