Background: Ultrasound evaluation of carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) has been extensively used for potentially improving cardiovascular (CV) risk stratification in several patients’ categories. Subjects with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have been investigated by both imaging and molecular biomarker approaches with contrasting results. Here, we focused on the role of osteopontin (OPN) as biomarker of subclinical atherosclerosis associated with SLE. Materials and Methods: Eighty females (age 18-65 years) affected by SLE and eighty age-matched healthy female controls without a clinical history of CV disease underwent ultrasound evaluation of cIMT and blood sample assay of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and OPN. Results: Healthy controls and SLE patients significantly differed for CV risk factors (ie, waist circumference, hypertension and dyslipidaemia) and the inflammatory status. Noteworthy, an opposite association between cIMT and OPN was observed in the two study groups. Whereas OPN was positively associated with mean cIMT (r = 0.364; P = 0.001) in SLE patients, a negative correlation was found in healthy controls. Furthermore, in SLE patients increased circulating levels of OPN were associated with the use of hydroxychloroquine and the positivity for the anti-dsDNA autoantibodies. At linear regression analysis, only OPN remained independently associated with cIMT also after adjustment for age, smoking pack-year, Heart SCORE, disease length and steroid therapy length. Conclusions: These results indicate that serum OPN levels were strongly associated with subclinical atherosclerosis in patients with LES and it might be a useful CV biomarker that requires additional validation in larger trials.
- C-reactive protein
- carotid intima-media thickness
- osteopontin and atherosclerosis
- systemic lupus erythematosus
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Biochemistry