Background: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is more frequent in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) compared with age- and sex-matched healthy subjects. SLE is an autoimmune disease that is more prevalent in women (9:1). Women tend to develop CVD in post-menopausal years; however, women with SLE may develop endothelial dysfunction and CVD at a younger age in the pre-menopausal years.
Objectives: To study the endothelial function of adult-onset SLE patients from the north of Israel (the Galilee region) and to determine whether modern management (including biological treatments) changes the risk of developing CVD.
Methods: Thirteen females with adult-onset SLE without renal involvement were recruited to this prospective study. Clinical parameters (age, height, body mass index [BMI]), laboratory parameters (C-reactive protein [CRP] and hemoglobin level), and vascular responsiveness (flow mediated diameter percent change [FMD%]) were evaluated and compared to 11 age-matched healthy females. Student's t-test was used to find differences between the two groups.
Results: No difference was observed in adult-onset SLE female patients and their age- and sex-matched controls with regard to age (42.1 ± 11.8 years vs. 36.6 ± 10.8 years, P = NS), BMI (25 ± 1.8 kg/m2 vs. 25 ± 2.5 kg/m2, P = NS), and hemoglobin level (11.9 ± 0.9 gr% vs. 12.7 ± 1.2 gr%, P = NS). However, a significant difference was found in CRP (2.57 ± 2.2 mg vs. 0.60 ± 0.37 mg, P = 0.001), vascular responsiveness (0.94 ± 6.6 FMD% vs. 9.2 ± 8.1 FMD%, P = 0.012), and height (165.7 ± 4.5 cm vs. 171.6 ± 5.8 cm, P = 0.009).
Conclusions: Adult-onset SLE females had impaired endothelial function even though they were treated by modern protocols.