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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Anti-inflammatory therapies reduce major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) in coronary artery disease but remain unproven after stroke. Establishing the subtype-specific association between inflammatory markers and recurrence risk is essential for optimal selection of patients in randomized trials (RCTs) of anti-inflammatory therapies for secondary stroke prevention. METHODS: Using individual participant data (IPD) identified from a systematic review, we analyzed the association between high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, interleukin-6 (IL-6), and vascular recurrence after ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack. The prespecified coprimary end points were (1) any recurrent MACE (first major coronary event, recurrent stroke, or vascular death) and (2) any recurrent stroke (ischemic, hemorrhagic, or unspecified) after sample measurement. Analyses were performed stratified by stroke mechanism, per quarter and per biomarker unit increase after loge transformation. We then did study-level meta-analysis with comparable published studies not providing IPD. Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses IPD guidelines were followed. RESULTS: IPD was obtained from 10 studies (8,420 patients). After adjustment for vascular risk factors and statins/antithrombotic therapy, IL-6 was associated with recurrent MACE in stroke caused by large artery atherosclerosis (LAA) (risk ratio [RR] 2.30, 95% CI 1.21-4.36, p = 0.01), stroke of undetermined cause (UND) (RR 1.78, 1.19-2.66, p = 0.005), and small vessel occlusion (SVO) (RR 1.71, 0.99-2.96, p = 0.053) (quarter 4 [Q4] vs quarter 1 [Q1]). No association was observed for stroke due to cardioembolism or other determined cause. Similar results were seen for recurrent stroke and when analyzed per loge unit increase for MACE (LAA, RR 1.26 [1.06-1.50], p = 0.009; SVO, RR 1.22 [1.01-1.47], p = 0.04; UND, RR 1.18 [1.04-1.34], p = 0.01). High-sensitivity CRP was associated with recurrent MACE in UND stroke only (Q4 vs Q1 RR 1.45 [1.04-2.03], p = 0.03). Findings were consistent on study-level meta-analysis of the IPD results with 2 other comparable studies (20,136 patients). DISCUSSION: Our data provide new evidence for the selection of patients in future RCTs of anti-inflammatory therapy in stroke due to large artery atherosclerosis, small vessel occlusion, and undetermined etiology according to inflammatory marker profile.

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Humans, Interleukin-6, C-Reactive Protein, Stroke, Cerebral Infarction, Atherosclerosis, Anti-Inflammatory Agents