High-sensitivity cardiac troponin T is a biomarker for atherosclerosis in systemic lupus erythematous patients: a cross-sectional controlled study

Gillian Divard, Rachid Abbas, Camille Chenevier-Gobeaux, Noémie Chanson, Brigitte Escoubet, Marie-Paule Chauveheid, Antoine Dossier, Thomas Papo, Monique Dehoux, Karim Sacre
Arthritis Research & Therapy 2017 June 13, 19 (1): 132

BACKGROUND: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the main cause of death in systemic lupus erythematous (SLE) patients. The Framingham score underestimates the risk for CVD in this population. Our study aimed to determine whether serum high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T (HS-cTnT) might help to identify SLE patients at risk for CVD.

METHODS: The presence of carotid plaques was prospectively assessed by ultrasound in 63 consecutive SLE patients asymptomatic for CVD and 18 controls. Serum HS-cTnT concentration was measured using the electrochemiluminescence method. Factors associated with carotid plaques were identified and multivariate analysis was performed.

RESULTS: Framingham score was low in both SLE patients (median 1 (range 1-18%)) and controls (1 (1-13%)). Nevertheless, 23 (36.5%) SLE patients, but only 2 (11.1%) controls (p = 0.039), had carotid plaque detected by vascular ultrasound. In the multivariate analysis, only age (p = 0.006) and SLE status (p = 0.017) were independently associated with carotid plaques. Serum HS-cTnT concentration was detectable (i.e. >3 ng/L) in 37 (58.7%) SLE patients and 6 (33.3%) controls (p = 0.057). Interestingly, 87% of SLE patients with carotid plaques, but only 42.5% of SLE patients without plaques (p < 0.001), had detectable HS-cTnT. Conversely, 54.5% of SLE patients with detectable HS-cTnT, but only 11.5% with undetectable HS-cTnT (p < 0.001), had a carotid plaque. In the multivariate analysis, only body mass index (p = 0.006) and HS-cTnT (p = 0.033) were statistically associated with carotid plaques in SLE patients. Overall, the risk of having a carotid plaque was increased by 9 (odds ratio 9.26, 95% confidence interval 1.55-90.07) in SLE patients in whom HS-cTnT was detectable in serum.

CONCLUSION: Serum HS-cTnT level is high and associated with carotid plaques in SLE patients who are at an apparently low risk for CVD according to the Framingham score. HS-cTnT may be a useful biomarker for SLE-associated atherosclerosis.

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