Objective: To investigate the metabolic and immunologic factors associated with the presence of central arterial stiffness as measured by the augmentation index (AIx).
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of 69 female patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) compared with a control group of 34 healthy women. The anthropometrical variables, the vascular studies, and the analytic data were obtained the same day. The AIx was assessed by peripheral arterial tonometry. The analysis of lipoprotein populations was performed using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy.
Results: Arterial stiffness was increased in patients with SLE compared with control subjects (mean ± SD 20.30 ± 21.54% versus 10.84 ± 11.51%; P = 0.0021). Values for the AIx were correlated with the Framingham risk score (r = 0.481, P < 0.001), carotid intima-media thickness (r = 0.503, P < 0.001), systolic blood pressure (r = 0.270, P < 0.001), and age (r = 0.365, P < 0.001). Patients receiving antimalarial drugs had a lower AIx (mean ± SD 11.74 ± 11.28% versus 24.97 ± 20.63%; P = 0.024). The AIx was correlated with the atherogenic lipoproteins analyzed by NMR. The immunologic variables associated with the AIx were C4 (r = 0.259, P = 0.046) and IgM anti-β2 -glycoprotein I (IgM anti-β2 GPI) (r = 0.284, P = 0.284). In the multivariate analysis, age (β = 0.347, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.020-0.669, P = 0.035), IgM β2 GPI (β = 0.321, 95% CI 0.024-0.618, P = 0.035) and small dense high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particles (β = 1.288, 95% CI 0.246-2.329, P = 0.017) predicted the AIx.
Conclusion: SLE patients had increased arterial stiffness compared with healthy control subjects. Arterial stiffness was decreased in patients treated with antimalarial drugs. Age, IgM β2 GPI, and the number of small dense HDL particles predicted the AIx.