Monocyte subsets, T cell activation profiles, and stroke in men and women: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Cardiovascular Health Study

Matthew J. Feinstein, Petra Buzkova, Nels C. Olson, Margaret F. Doyle, Colleen M. Sitlani, Alison E. Fohner, Sally A. Huber, James Floyd, Arjun Sinha, Edward B. Thorp, Alan Landay, Matthew S. Freiberg, William T. Longstreth, Russell P. Tracy, Bruce M. Psaty, Joseph AC Delaney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background and aims: Despite mechanistic data implicating unresolving inflammation in stroke pathogenesis, data regarding circulating immune cell phenotypes – key determinants of inflammation propagation versus resolution – and incident stroke are lacking. Therefore, we aimed to comprehensively define associations of circulating immune phenotypes and activation profiles with incident stroke. Methods: We investigated circulating leukocyte phenotypes and activation profiles with incident adjudicated stroke in 2104 diverse adults from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) followed over a median of 16.6 years. Cryopreserved cells from the MESA baseline examination were thawed and myeloid and lymphoid lineage cell subsets were measured using polychromatic flow cytometry and intracellular cytokine activation staining. We analyzed multivariable-adjusted associations of cell phenotypes, as a proportion of parent cell subsets, with incident stroke (overall) and ischemic stroke using Cox regression models. Results: We observed associations of intermediate monocytes, early-activated CD4+ T cells, and both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells producing interleukin-4 after cytokine stimulation (Th2 and Tc2, respectively) with higher risk for incident stroke; effect sizes ranged from 35% to 62% relative increases in risk for stroke. Meanwhile, differentiated and memory T cell phenotypes were associated with lower risk for incident stroke. In sex-stratified analyses, positive and negative associations were especially strong among men but null among women. Conclusions: Circulating IL-4 producing T cells and intermediate monocytes were significantly associated with incident stroke over nearly two decades of follow-up. These associations were stronger among men and not among women. Further translational studies are warranted to define more precise targets for prognosis and intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-25
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomarkers
  • Epidemiology
  • Immune cells
  • Inflammation
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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