Traditional and non traditional risk factors in accelerated atherosclerosis in systemic lupus erythematosus: role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGATS Study)

Barbara Maria Colombo, Fabio Cacciapaglia, Matteo Puntoni, Giuseppe Murdaca, Edoardo Rossi, Guido Rodriguez, Flavio Nobili, Livia Pisciotta, Stefano Bertolini, Tiziano Moccetti, Francesco Dentali, Luigi Steidl, Giorgio Ciprandi, Antonella Afeltra, Francesco Indiveri, Francesco Puppo
Autoimmunity Reviews 2009, 8 (4): 309-15

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in accelerated atherosclerosis in patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).

METHODS: We have enrolled 80 SLE female patients and 80 age-matched healthy control females who underwent a structured interview, physical examination, routine laboratory tests, VEGF plasma level determination and B-mode ultrasonography of carotid arteries to determine carotid intima media thickness (IMT). Framingham risk factors for cardiovascular events were also calculated and VEGF plasma levels were correlated with traditional and nontraditional cardiovascular risk factors.

RESULTS: SLE was significantly associated with higher mean IMT values (0.74+/-0.15 mm versus 0.59+/-0.12 mm in controls, p<0.001) and higher mean plasma VEGF levels (307.9+/-292.2 pg/mL versus 120.7+/-118.4 pg/mL in controls, p<0.001) independently from age, smoking habits, and Framingham risk factors. A significant correlation was also found between IMT and VEGF values (r=0.25; p<0.001).

CONCLUSION: We show that SLE patients have increased mean IMT and VEGF values as compared with healthy age-matched controls and that IMT and VEGF values are independently and directly associated with SLE disease.

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