To inform the study and regulation of emerging tobacco products, we sought to identify sensitive biomarkers of tobacco-induced subclinical cardiovascular damage by testing the cross-sectional associations of smoking with 17 biomarkers of inflammation in 2,702 GENOA study participants belonging to sibships ascertained on the basis of hypertension. Cigarette smoking was assessed by status, intensity (number of cigarettes per day), burden (pack-years of smoking), and time since quitting. We modeled biomarkers as geometric mean (GM) ratios using generalized estimating equations (GEE). The mean age of participants was 61 ±10 years; 64.5% were women and 54.4% African American. The prevalence of smoking was 12.2%. After adjusting for potential confounders, 6 of 17 biomarkers were significantly higher among current smokers at a Bonferroni adjusted p-value threshold (p<0.003). High sensitivity C-reactive protein was the most elevated biomarker among current smokers when compared to never smokers [GM ratio = 1.39 (95% CI: 1.23, 1.57); p <0.001]. Among former smokers, each pack-year of cigarettes smoked was associated with a 0.4% higher serum level of hsCRP [GM ratio = 1.004 (95% CI: 1.001, 1.006); p = 0.002] and each 5-year lapsed since quitting was associated with a 4% lower serum level of hsCRP [GM ratio = 0.96 (95% CI: 0.93, 0.99); p = 0.006]. However, we found no significant association of smoking intensity or burden with biomarkers of inflammation among current smokers. HsCRP appears to be the most sensitive biomarker of inflammation associated with cigarette smoking of those investigated, and could be a useful biomarker of smoking-related injury for the study and regulation of emerging tobacco products.
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