Endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis in rheumatoid arthritis: a multiparametric analysis using imaging techniques and laboratory markers of inflammation and autoimmunity

György Kerekes, Zoltán Szekanecz, Henriett Dér, Zsuzsa Sándor, Gabriella Lakos, László Muszbek, István Csipö, Sándor Sipka, Ildikó Seres, György Paragh, János Kappelmayer, Edit Szomják, Katalin Veres, Gyula Szegedi, Yehuda Shoenfeld, Pál Soltész
Journal of Rheumatology 2008, 35 (3): 398-406

OBJECTIVE: Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of mortality in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Endothelial dysfunction often precedes manifest atherosclerosis. We assessed endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis in RA in context with laboratory markers.

METHODS: Fifty-two patients with RA and 40 matched healthy controls were studied. We assessed common carotid intima-media thickness (ccIMT) and flow- (FMD) and nitroglycerine-mediated vasodilation (NMD). We also assayed numerous immunological and metabolic laboratory markers.

RESULTS: FMD was significantly lower in RA (5.32% +/- 4.66%) compared to controls (8.30% +/- 3.96%) (p = 0.001). NMD was preserved in RA. ccIMT was significantly greater in patients with RA (0.63 +/- 0.14 mm) versus controls (0.54 +/- 0.15 mm) (p = 0.012). In patients with RA, ccIMT correlated with FMD% (R = -0.318, p = 0.022), age (R = 0.831, p < 0.001), and anti-dsDNA levels (R = 0.463, p = 0.006). FMD% correlated with serum interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) levels (R = 0.516, p = 0.014). NMD% correlated inversely with the percentage of Th0 lymphocytes (R = -0.636, p = 0.006), serum immune complex (R = -0.692, p < 0.001), and IgM levels (R = -0.606, p = 0.003). Patients with RA were divided as "low" (< 0.65 mm) versus "high" (> 0.65 mm) ccIMT groups, and into "normal" (> 5%) versus "impaired" (< 5%) FMD% subsets. Low and high ccIMT groups differed significantly in age and serum interleukin 1 (IL-1) and anti-dsDNA levels. RA patients with normal versus impaired FMD% differed significantly in age, disease duration, and serum IFN-gamma levels. Lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] also correlated with rheumatoid factor (RF) and C-reactive protein (CRP); homocysteine (HCy) correlated with CRP and correlated inversely with folate and vitamin B12 production. Paraoxonase-1 (PON-1) activity correlated with serum tumor necrosis factor-alpha(TNF-alpha) and IL-6 levels.

CONCLUSION: This was a well characterized RA population, where FMD and ccIMT were impaired, indicating early endothelial dysfunction and accelerated atherosclerosis, respectively. RA-related autoimmune-inflammatory mechanisms and metabolic factors including anti-CCP, RF, CRP, circulating immune complexes, IgM, TNF-alpha, IL-6, Th0/Th1 ratio, HCy, folate, vitamin B12, and PON-1 may all be involved in the development of vascular disease in RA. Although ccIMT and FMD, as well as some laboratory factors, have been assessed by other investigators in RA-associated atherosclerosis, our results regarding the possible involvement of anti-CCP, anti-dsDNA, Lp(a), some cytokines, and PON-1 activity are novel. Early determination of FMD% and ccIMT may be useful to assess RA patients with high cardiovascular risk.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Trending Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"