New means of predicting atherosclerosis risk in lupus patients developed

Published on 09 January 2014
New means of predicting atherosclerosis risk in lupus patients developed

A new technique of predicting the risk of atherosclerosis among women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) - also known as lupus - has been developed in the US, using multiple biomarkers to create a more comprehensive screening method.

The University of California, Los Angeles study suggests that combining a number of different measurements into a single biomarker panel can be used to better predict future progression of atherosclerosis in this patient group.

Currently, it is known that lupus is associated with an increased frequency of atherosclerosis, but this is not fully explained by the presence of traditional cardiac risk factors. However, measurements of nontraditional biomarkers such as proinflammatory high-density lipoprotein and leptin have been shown to help demonstrate this association in the past.

For the new study, these and other biomarkers - including age and diabetic histories - were combined into a single risk profile called the Predictors of Risk for Elevated Flares, Damage Progression and Increased Cardiovascular Disease in Patients with SLE (PREDICTS).

Results published in the medical journal Arthritis & Rheumatology revealed that no single variable demonstrated an ideal combination of good positive/negative predictive values, sensitivity and specificity.

However, the combination of all of them proved more informative, as patients with high-risk PREDICTS score had 28-fold increased odds of the presence of any current, progressive or acquired carotid plaque and arterial wall thickening, both of which are consequences of atherosclerosis.

This could be an important finding, as heart diseases such as atherosclerosis are among the most serious complications of lupus.

A spokeswoman for Arthritis Research UK, which funds a considerable amount of research into lupus, welcomed news of the new combined biomarker panel.

"Biomarkers to predict disease progression, severity and - in this case - the risk of atherosclerosis in lupus are very much the way forward in being able to treat patients more effectively as individuals, rather than taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach," she added.