Specific clusters of metabolic syndrome (MetS) components impact differentially on arterial stiffness, indexed as pulse wave velocity (PWV). Of note, in several population-based studies participating in the MARE (Metabolic syndrome and Arteries REsearch) Consortium the occurrence of specific clusters of MetS differed markedly across Europe and the US. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether specific clusters of MetS are consistently associated with stiffer arteries in different populations. We studied 20,570 subjects from 9 cohorts representing 8 different European countries and the US participating in the MARE Consortium. MetS was defined in accordance with NCEP ATPIII criteria as the simultaneous alteration in >= 3 of the 5 components: abdominal obesity (W), high triglycerides (T), low HDL cholesterol (H), elevated blood pressure (B), and elevated fasting glucose (G). PWV measured in each cohort was "normalized" to account for different acquisition methods. MetS had an overall prevalence of 24.2% (4985 subjects). MetS accelerated the age-associated increase in PWV levels at any age, and similarly in men and women. MetS clusters TBW, GBW, and GTBW are consistently associated with significantly stiffer arteries to an extent similar or greater than observed in subjects with alteration in all the five MetS components - even after controlling for age, sex, smoking, cholesterol levels, and diabetes mellitus - in all the MARE cohorts. In conclusion, different component clusters of MetS showed varying associations with arterial stiffness (PWV). (C) 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.