Subclinical Atherosclerosis in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Antiphospholipid Syndrome
Focus on β2GPI-Specific T Cell Response
Objective—Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) are associated with a high prevalence of atherosclerosis. β2 glycoprotein I (β2GPI) represents a link between autoimmunity and endothelial dysfunction. Recently, β2GPI reactive T cells have been identified; however, their role in atherosclerosis is still under investigation. We evaluated early atherosclerosis in patients with SLE and APS and investigated T cell reactivity to β2GPI and its relationship with atherosclerotic process.
Approach and Results—Fifty SLE, 18 patients with primary APS (PAPS), and 25 healthy controls were enrolled. Demographic and clinical data, including traditional cardiovascular risk factors, were recorded. Monocyte β2GPI and Tissue Factor (TF) expression and peripheral blood mononuclear cell response to β2GPI stimulation were evaluated. Doppler ultrasound was performed to investigate flow-mediated dilatation (FMD) and carotid intima-media thickness (IMT). We detected an increase in mean IMT and a decrease in FMD in patients with SLE versus controls (P<0.05 and P=0.0001, respectively) and a decrease in FMD in patients with PAPS versus controls (P<0.05). Monocyte β2GPI and TF expression was higher in patients with SLE and PAPS than in controls (P=0.006 and P=0.001, respectively); no correlation of monocyte β2GPI and TF with IMT or FMD was detected. β2GPI induced peripheral blood mononuclear cell proliferation in 32% of patients with SLE, 25% of patients with PAPS yet in none of the controls. Proliferative response to β2GPI correlated with a history of arterial thrombosis, thrombocytopenia, and IMT >0.9 mm.
Conclusions—A significant percentage of patients with SLE and PAPS show a β2GPI-specific T cell reactivity, which is associated with subclinical atherosclerosis.
- Received June 4, 2013.
- Accepted January 3, 2014.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.