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Lupus. 1999;8(3):220-6.

Atherosclerosis-related markers in systemic lupus erythematosus patients: the role of humoral immunity in enhanced atherogenesis.

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  • 1Department of Medicine B, Sheba Medical Center, Tel-Hashomer, Israel.


Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) patients experience premature atherosclerosis. A deranged lipid metabolism and use of immunosuppressive medications accounts partially for the accelerated process. The role of autoimmunity in atherosclerosis has recently been highlighted. Autoantigenic determinants thought to play a role in the development of atherosclerosis include: modified lipoproteins, heat shock proteins and beta2-glycoprotein I (a target of 'autoimmune' anticardiolipin antibodies). In this present work we determined autoimmune markers which may be associated with premature atherosclerotic process found in SLE patients. We have found that antibodies to oxLDL were raised in the sera of lupus patients and cross-reacted with cardiolipin and with beta2GPI. OxLDL containing immune-complexes of the IgG and IgM isotypes were both elevated in the SLE patients as compared with healthy controls. Patients with high Lipoprotein (a) concentrations (>30 mg/dl) had higher levels of IgM oxLDL-containing immune-complexes. IgM but not IgG anti-HSP-65 antibodies were elevated in the lupus patients and levels of oxLDL containing immune-complexes correlated positively with the presence of anti-HSP 65 antibodies. Lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) is a peroxide-derivative formed during LDL oxidation, was shown to evoke a humoral response in healthy subjects. Antibodies to lysophosphatidylcholine of the IgG but not the IgM isotype were reduced in SLE patients compared with controls, suggesting it may be 'consumed' into oxLDL containing immune complexes. Therefore, SLE patients exhibit a humoral autoimmune response towards the antigenic candidates incriminated in the progression of atherosclerosis. These findings may help identify factors that are involved in accelerating atherogenesis in SLE patients.

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