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Lupus. 2010 Jul;19(8):913-7. doi: 10.1177/0961203310364397. Epub 2010 Apr 21.

Pro-inflammatory high-density lipoproteins and atherosclerosis are induced in lupus-prone mice by a high-fat diet and leptin.

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Division of Rheumatology, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Atherosclerosis is accelerated in people with systemic lupus erythematosus, and the presence of dysfunctional, pro-inflammatory high-density lipoproteins is a marker of increased risk. We developed a mouse model of multigenic lupus exposed to environmental factors known to accelerate atherosclerosis in humans - high-fat diet with or without injections of the adipokine leptin. BWF1 mice were the lupus-prone model; BALB/c were non-autoimmune controls. High-fat diet increased total serum cholesterol in both strains. In BALB/c mice, non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels increased; they did not develop atherosclerosis. In contrast, BWF1 mice on high-fat diets developed increased quantities of high-density lipoproteins as well as elevated high-density lipoprotein scores, indicating pro-inflammatory high-density lipoproteins; they also developed atherosclerosis. In the lupus-prone strain, addition of leptin increased pro-inflammatory high-density lipoprotein scores and atherosclerosis, and accelerated proteinuria. These data suggest that environmental factors associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome can accelerate atherosclerosis and disease in a lupus-prone background.

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