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Scand J Rheumatol. 2009 Jan-Feb;38(1):38-45. doi: 10.1080/03009740802366050.

Clinical significance of nailfold capillaroscopy in systemic lupus erythematosus: correlation with endothelial cell activation markers and disease activity.

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  • 1Department of Rheumatology and Internal Diseases, Medical University of Bialystok, Bialystok, Poland. akuryl@umwb.edu.pl

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To evaluate whether nailfold capillaroscopy (NC) changes are associated with the main serum endothelial cell activation markers and the disease activity of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

METHODS:

Serum levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), endothelin-1 (ET-1), soluble E-selectin (sE-selectin), and soluble thrombomodulin (sTM) were determined by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in 80 SLE patients and 33 healthy controls.

RESULTS:

Nailfold capillary abnormalities were seen in 74 out of 80 (92.5%) SLE patients. A normal capillaroscopic pattern or mild changes were found in 33 (41.25%) and moderate/severe abnormalities in 47 (58.75%) of all SLE patients. In SLE patients a capillaroscopic score >1 was more frequently associated with the presence of internal organ involvement (p < 0.001) as well as with immunosuppressive therapy (p < 0.01). Significant differences were found in VEGF (p < 0.001), ET-1 (p < 0.001), sE-selectin (p < 0.01), and sTM (p < 0.001) serum concentrations between SLE patients with a capillaroscopic score > 1 and controls. SLE patients with severe/moderate capillaroscopic abnormalities showed significantly higher VEGF serum levels than patients with mild changes (p < 0.001). Moreover, there was a significant positive correlation between the severity of capillaroscopic changes and the Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI) (p < 0.005) as well as between capillaroscopic score and VEGF serum levels (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS:

Our findings confirm the usefulness of NC as a non-invasive technique for the evaluation of microvascular involvement in SLE patients. A relationship between changes in NC, endothelial cell activation markers and clinical features of SLE suggest an important role for microvascular abnormalities in clinical manifestation of the disease.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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