It has been demonstrated that atherosclerosis (ATS) is enhanced in autoimmune rheumatic diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The reason for this accelerated process is still debatable and, although traditional risk factors are more prevalent in SLE patients than in general population, they do not seem to fully explain the enhanced risk. ATS has the characteristics of an autoimmune chronic disease, involving both the innate and the adaptive immunity. Moreover, it satisfies the four criteria defining an autoimmune disease, proposed by Witebsky and Rose. It has been shown that some autoantibodies, including anti-oxLDL, anti-β2GPI, anti-HSP60/65, and more recently anti-oxLDL/β2GPI, play a key role in the pathogenesis of ATS. However the role of these autoantibodies in accelerated ATS in SLE patients is still controversial. In fact, some of them seem to be proatherogenic and other protective; moreover, it has been demonstrated that induced oral tolerance has a protective role against ATS. We have recently observed that the levels of oxLDL/β2GPI antigenic complexes and their antibodies were higher in patients with SLE than in healthy subjects, but we did not find a clear association between oxLDL/β2GPI complexes and IgG or IgM anti-oxLDL/β2GPI autoantibodies and subclinical ATS in SLE patients. Many other studies are required to explain the role of autoantibodies in the pathogenesis of ATS in SLE patients, because the characteristics of SLE seem to mask their effects for atherogenesis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy