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Scand J Rheumatol. 2014;43(3):209-16. doi: 10.3109/03009742.2013.846408. Epub 2014 Jan 7.

Macro- and microvascular function in habitually exercising systemic lupus erythematosus patients.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic , Rochester, MN , USA.



Vascular dysfunction is commonly observed in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients and may explain the accelerated cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. It is unknown whether physical activity influences vascular function in SLE patients. We aimed to determine whether habitually exercising SLE patients also demonstrate a reduction in vascular function.


This study involved 41 young and middle-aged adults, including 15 healthy controls, 12 sedentary SLE patients, and 14 physically active SLE patients.


Flow-mediated dilation (FMD), a measure of macrovascular function, was lower (3.6 ± 1.3 vs. 8.1 ± 1.2%; p < 0.05) and inflammatory markers [C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin (IL)-12, and tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α] were higher in sedentary SLE patients than in age-matched healthy controls (p < 0.05). Importantly, FMD and inflammatory markers were not different between physically active SLE patients and healthy controls. There were no group differences in skin reactive hyperaemia (RH) or minimal vascular resistance, both measures of microvascular function. Physically active SLE patients had lower intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1 concentrations and SLE disease activity scores than their sedentary peers. FMD was inversely associated with IL-6 and IL-10 (both p < 0.05).


Significant SLE-associated macrovascular dysfunction was absent in physically active SLE patients. Additionally, vascular function was associated with inflammatory markers, suggesting that the favourable influence of physical activity may be mediated by its effect on inflammation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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