The GlycA test is a recently developed proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H-NMR) spectroscopy-based assay that has been gaining increased interest as a serum biomarker for systemic inflammation, and consequently, as a potential biomarker for cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk assessment.
The test has undergone investigation in several large cohort studies, since its development, to assess its predictive value for incident CVD events, CVD-associated mortality, and all-cause mortality. Despite variation in the generated estimates by these studies, they have all consistently demonstrated moderate-strength positive correlations between baseline GlycA levels, and incident CVD event rates and associated mortality. These correlations withheld testing even after adjusting for several other established CVD risk factors, including notable inflammatory biomarkers such as high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). Compared with hsCRP, which is a well-known inflammatory biomarker for CVD risk assessment, GlycA has a comparable predictive value for future CVD-related events. However, the indications to pursue GlycA testing, and its clinical utility in patient care management, are yet to be determined.
In this review, we define the GlycA test and what it “measures”, and provide a brief summary of the findings of studies showing its association with incident CVD rates, and CVD-related mortality, as well as its correlation with other inflammatory biomarkers, namely hsCRP. Finally, we highlight the analytical advantages of the GlycA test, compared with “traditional” inflammatory biomarkers, while also mentioning its current limitations.