Determinants of vascular phenotype in a large childhood population: the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC)

AE Donald, M Charakida, E Falaschetti, D Lawlor, JP Halcox, J Golding, AD Hingorani, G Davey Smith, JE Deanfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

54 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: To assess the feasibility and reproducibility of non-invasive vascular assessment in a childhood population setting and identify the determinants of vascular phenotype in early life. Methods and results: We studied 7557 children (age 9.8–12.3 years) participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Six research technicians underwent a 5-month training protocol to enable study of brachial artery endothelial function by flow-mediated dilatation (FMD) and arterial stiffness by carotid to radial pulse wave velocity (PWV) and brachial distensibility [distensibility coefficient (DC)]. Reproducibility studies were performed at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the study. A blinded repeat evaluation of a random selection of 3% of the cohort was also undertaken throughout the study. The effect of anthropometric and environmental factors on each measure was examined. Successful measures were obtained in 88, 95, and 87% of the studied children for FMD, PWV, and DC, respectively. The coefficients of variation between technicians for FMD, PWV, and DC were 10.5, 4.6, and 6.6% at the beginning of the study and reached 7.7, 4.1, and 10% at the end. Baseline vessel diameter and gender were important determinants of all the vascular measures, with a small effect of room and skin temperatures on FMD and PWV. Boys consistently had lower FMD and DC and higher PWV measures (P <0.01 for all). Conclusion: Reproducible, high-quality assessments of vascular structure and function in children can be made on a large scale in field studies by suitably trained non-specialist operators. This study provides an invaluable resource for assessing the impact of early influences, genetic, and environmental factors on arterial phenotype.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1502 - 1510
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Heart Journal
Volume31 (12)
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010

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