Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a multisystem multifactorial autoimmune disorder. The survival of SLE patients has been improved by the administration of immunomodulatory therapy. Patients, however, are affected by late onset complications of the disease such as atherosclerosis. Lipoprotein Lp(a) is a known risk factor for the development of atherosclerosis.
The aim was to study Lp(a) levels and their relationship with disease activity in SLE patients.
Patients with SLE, n=74, aged 2164 years, and normal controls, n=74, of the same age and sex were studied. In patients and controls the levels of hematocrit, hemoglobin, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C-reactive protein, antinuclear antibodies, complement, anti-dsDNA antibodies, cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, LDL and lipoprotein Lp(a) were measured.
Lp(a) levels (normal values <30 mg/dl) were found increased in 23 of 74 (31.1%) patients with SLE and in 9 of 74 (12.2%) controls. Within the group of 23 SLE patients with increased Lp(a) levels 17 (73.9%) had active disease. In 11 of 23 (47.8%) SLE patients with increased Lp(a) levels anticardiolipin antibodies were detected, while anticardiolipin antibodies were found in 12 of 51 (23.5%) patients with Lp(a) levels within the normal range. All patients with active disease and increased Lp(a) levels had renal and/or central nervous system involvement. A strong relationship was observed between Lp(a) levels and anti-dsDNA antibodies.
Lp(a) levels were higher in SLE patients. Increased Lp(a) levels were found to be related to disease activity in SLE, specifically with renal and central nervous system involvement and anticardiolipin antibodies. Increased Lp(a) levels may contribute to the development of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease in SLE patients.